In 2010, Chris Rothfuss was elected to the Wyoming Senate, even though registered Republicans and independents in his Laramie district didn’t have a choice in the matter. Now, the Laramie Democrat wants to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Today, he plans to introduce legislation that would change the way political primaries in Wyoming are held. Currently, voters from the two major parties choose their general election nominee during the August primary election; minor parties, such as the Libertarians, nominate their own candidates for the November ballot. Under Rothfuss’ proposal, statewide and legislative candidates from all parties — as well as unaffiliated candidates — would run against each other in a single primary race. All registered voters would be asked to pick two candidates, and the top two vote-getters would then face each other in the general election.
The system is already in place in Washington state and California. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the system as constitutional. The legislation would also change the way political vacancies are filled. Instead of the current system, in which local precinct committeepeople select finalists and county commissions pick the replacement, Rothfuss’ bill would have the second-highest vote-getter from the last election take over the office.
A third change would stop precinct committeepeople from being elected during primary elections; instead, it would be up to each political party to decide how they should be chosen. Rothfuss said the “top two” system would guarantee registered independents and voters from the minority party a say in who their elected officials are. In 2010, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, three of 15 state Senate candidates — including Rothfuss — and 10 of 60 state House candidates each won a competitive primary election but ran unopposed in the general election. A number of other candidates won a competitive primary race and faced only token opposition in November. A “top two” system would also make elections less politically polarizing, Rothfuss said.
Full Article: Bill would alter how Wyoming handles primary elections.