Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
Laurie Roberts at the AZ Republic is beside herself that the well-heeled proponents of the dumb Top Two Primary idea are, as she delightedly exclaims, baaaaaack. (Much more after the jump)
It’s baaaaaack: Top-two primary 2.0
About now is the time you start thinking it.
Who elected these clowns, you ask, as you read about the serious business being conducted at the state Capitol. About bills aimed at barring certain children from going to school and bills that enshrine discrimination in the name of religion. About bills to nullify Environmental Protection Agency rules and gun laws and pretty much anything else the Arizona Legislature doesn’t like.
Who elected those clowns, you ask?
The answer is: we did. Really, we did.
Which is why it’s time to consider changing the way we elect our leaders in this state.
Fortunately, we may get the chance. Again, that is.
Plans are afoot to bring back a new and improved version of the top-two primary initiative — the one trounced by voters in 2012 with a little help from, well, we never did find out where all that dark money came from to torpedo the proposal.
Although Proposition 121 died, the impetus behind it remains.
It’s fascinating how Roberts rattles off a list of bad legislation while acting like the legislature as a whole was responsible for it. In reality, all of it came from the Republicans. The problem is the Republican majority and the obvious answer is to change that but the establishment types here won’t admit it. Sure, they will name certain, obvious names like Carl Seel or John Kavanagh but they are incapable of acknowledging that the bad bills pass because all or most of the Republicans in the legislature vote for them. Instead, they flail about desperately for a solution that involves “moderate” Republicans somehow seizing the reins of power from the “kooks” and ushering in an era where Republican policies still prevail but they’re more polite about it. Also, somehow these better-behaved Republicans will have an epiphany and start fully funding the schools and infrastructure again, like they did back in the 60s and 70s.
The Top Two Primary, as I’ve mentioned here before, is just such a harebrained solution. Apparently they don’t plan to put it on the ballot here in 2014 but Paul Johnson intends to blackmail midterm candidates into supporting it for 2016.
Johnson says his group will be asking candidates in this fall’s elections where they stand on a top-two primary and passing that along to independent voters.
Independent voters, meaning out of every three voters in Arizona.
Here’s how that will most likely play out: Republican candidates will laugh right in Johnson’s face. With few exceptions, they don’t care about independent voters. So the target is obviously Democrats, some of whom are in competitive districts and do need independent votes. They might be convinced to endorse a primary system that can only “work” by obliterating the Democrats in Arizona for generations.
This proposed stunt by Johnson may turn out to be a waste of time and money but it’s clear that his gang is not giving up in their quest to siphon resources and labor from Democrats and liberal activists in order to remake the Arizona GOP. The Top Two people claim to be looking out for independent voters but if they consider such voters to be the most important ones, and believe that independents are a silent plurality that agrees with them, then why don’t they run pro-business independent candidates and recruit an army of enthusiastic centrist volunteers to get out the vote for them? Because, yeah, that would be pretty difficult, wouldn’t it? Thus their hope that they can conscript Democrats into helping to elect less obstreperous Republicans. I mean, don’t you, liberal activist, want to spend hours trudging through suburban neighborhoods in the dead of August in Arizona getting the vote out for some “nice” Republican anti-choicer with an A rating from the NRA? Sure you do.
Another way in which Arizona Democrats are being pressured to help save the Republicans is by the demand that they stand down and let some “nice” Republican glide into a seat that could be won by a Democrat. Back in 2012 Laurie Roberts and Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times were gunning to get Republican Jerry Lewis elected to the Senate in LD26. Lewis had defeated Russell Pearce in the famous recall election in 2011 but had been redistricted into a Democratic-leaning district which included Tempe. Roberts and Lemons were very peeved that Ed Ableser not only had the audacity to run for (and win) that Senate seat, but that he was (shockingly) contrasting his own liberal voting record and positions against Lewis’ conservative ones. The nerve!
This year a similar thing is happening in LD9, a competitive district in the Tucson area. Rep. Ethan Orr is the “moderate” Republican currently representing that district and, you guessed it, a local columnist is smitten with him. Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star is perplexed that a Democrat is *gasp* challenging Orr for his seat. The Democrat happens to be the surgeon who saved Gabby Giffords life and is running on a solid progressive platform with an emphasis on health care. What a terrible person! Steller also thinks that Democrats are being big old unfair meaniebutts to Orr by pointing out that Orr frequently votes for bad things like voter suppression and that he signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s anti-Roe v Wade pledge. Steller wants Democrats to ignore those things and focus on the few times Orr didn’t vote like a total dick, as in for the Medicaid expansion. When challenged on his Facebook page for his defense of Orr and characterization of him as a “moderate”, Steller sniffed:
Hey, it’s fine, Dems. Put up Randall Friese, hope he turns into a future congressional candidate. Just don’t expect the Tucson who knows Ethan Orr to suddenly be shocked that he votes Republican some of the time. He’s a Republican!
He votes Republican most of the time and Randall Friese and his supporters are going to inform the voters in that Democratic-leaning district of the many times that Republican Ethan Orr has voted Republican. And that he’s anti-choice and the NRA loves him and he loves to suppress voters. Ethan Orr is not going to be handed a reelection. Boo hoo. Orr and his supporters are going to have to put on their comfy shoes and knock on doors and make the case for his reelection. Newsflash: Democrats are not required to sacrifice themselves to accommodate anyone’s pathetic Stockholm Syndrome-ish yearning for “nice” Republicans. But Tim can take heart in the considerable war chest of lobbyist money that Orr has. (By the way, if you want to contribute to Dr. Friese’s campaign, you can do it here.)
Seriously, centrists/moderates/independents, or whatever those of you who disdain partisans want to call yourselves: If you want a bipartisan kumbaya utopia in Arizona, get off your lazy backsides and make it happen yourselves. Stop expecting Democrats to do it for you while you sit behind your keyboard and whine. Sheesh.