Guide for ethics-minded California voters: Yes on 20, No on 27, and Abel Maldonado for Lt Governor


California voters face two critical ballot issues, and have a chance to reward the person who has arguably had the most positive influence on California politics in a generation.

First, the ballot measures: Presently California legislators—members of the state senate, assembly, and U. S. Congress—don’t have to contest their general elections because of extreme gerrymandering*: the winner of the primary gets a free ride in the general.

Proof? In the last four election cycles (2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008) combined, only nine seats have changed parties in 648 California legislative and congressional races. Or looking at it like a betting person, the incumbent party has a 981/2 percent chance of holding on to each seat. Stalin and Mao would have been impressed.

In 2008, California voted to take the power to set state legislative district boundaries away from legislators and give it to an independent nonpartisan commission. Next week there are two ballot measures about drawing district boundaries:

Proposition 20 would do for congressional districts what the 2008 measure did for assembly and state senate districts—give the job to the independent nonpartisan commission established by the 2008 vote. This would remove from elected officials the power to choose their own voters and get re-elected at will.

Proposition 27 would reverse the 2008 reform and return the redistricting powers to the legislature.

Passage of proposition 20 and defeat of proposition 27 would transfer the choice of legislators from the party primaries to the general elections, where it belongs. This will have a beneficial effect far beyond justmaking lifetime incumbency rare. Nonpartisan redistricting will encourage candidates for office to run more civil campaigns, because they will need to attract voters from the center of the political spectrum.

This effect will be magnified by California’s new open-primary law, which takes effect in 2012.  It matches the top two vote-getters in the primary in the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. Most people expect it to lead candidates to appeal to voters across the spectrum, in contrast to today’s closed primary system, which encourages Republicans to run to the right and Democrats to run to the left.

Abel Maldonado, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, insisted the open primary be placed on last year’s ballot in return for supporting the February 2009 budget.  Maldonado has touted the change in law as a way to reduce partisanship and legislative gridlock, and further empower the state’s 3.4 million Independent “decline-to-state” voters. Ethics Bob agrees.

Maldonado also gave strong support to the 2008 redistricting proposition. His stand for the voters and against the politicians of both parties (whose stranglehold he was breaking) has done a great favor to all Californians who want their elected officials to do their job and govern instead of fight. It’s time for California voters to return the favor and elect Maldonado Lieutenant Governor.


*The map is of California’s 38th Congressional district, carried in 2008 by incumbent Grace Napolitano (D) with 82% of the vote. No Republican bothered to contest her election


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6 Responses to “Guide for ethics-minded California voters: Yes on 20, No on 27, and Abel Maldonado for Lt Governor”

  1. Mick Ukleja Says:

    This is why I love you!! We support different parties, but we agree on just about everything. This is because we do not let the parties define who we are, or what is right or wrong. DO THE RIGHT THING, DO IT RIGHT, AND DO IT RIGHT NOW. Ethics starts from the inside out. When I get the inside right, the outside takes care of itself.

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    Yeah, it’s scary how much we agree on. Note, I didn’t write anything about the California governor’s or senator’s races.

  3. Steve Rankin Says:

    I’ve been observing Louisiana’s “top two open primary” since 1975, and, believe me, it hasn’t reduced partisanship or resulted in the election of more “centrists.” The 1991 runoff for governor featured a crook versus an ex-Ku Klux Klansman; the 1995 runoff for governor pitted a white conservative Republican against a black liberal Democrat. Neither the ’91 runoff nor the ’95 runoff was a competitive race.

    Why should the voters be limited to just two choices in the final, deciding election?

    Ask yourself: If the “open primary” is such a great idea for state and congressional elections, why is it that Washington, in 2008, became only the second state to begin using it? And both the Washington system and the California “open primary” are facing litigation.

    So Dis-Abel is a “hero” for supporting the biggest tax increase in California history?? I’d vote for a far leftist like Newsom before I’d vote for someone who’s responsible for spearheading something as idiotic as the “top two open primary.”

  4. Ethics Bob Says:

    Steve, the open primary won’t guarantee civility or softened partisanship, but the current system–closed primary plus greeymandered districts–guarantees UN-civility and hyperpartisanship.

    It’ll be a big improvement, not nirvana.

  5. Steve Rankin Says:

    Having observed Louisiana’s “open primary” for 35 years, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

    Gerrymandering is a redistricting problem. It won’t be solved by screwing up the election system.

    How’s it an improvement to take away the parties’ ability to nominate candidates– which is one of the basic functions of a political party?

    In California’s current system, of course, independents have their choice of voting in either the Republican or the Democratic primary. That’s a semi-closed primary.

    If the “open primary” is good for state and congressional elections, why not also use it to elect the president? Just think: The final choice in 2008 might have been McCain vs. Romney– or Obama vs. Clinton!!

    Suppose two teams from the same conference played each other in the Super Bowl. What if the two World Series teams were both from the same league?

  6. Ethics Bob Says:

    Might be a better Super Bowl or World’s Series.

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