They don’t agree on much, but a plan to create “top two” primaries has Arizona’s major and minor political parties on the same page – or at least close to it. Their responses range from outright opposition from Republican, Libertarian and Green leaders to noncommittal dislike from the Arizona Democratic Party. Proposition 121, dubbed the Open Elections/Open Government Act, would replace the current partisan primary system with a single primary that advances the top vote-getters regardless of party. The Open Government Committee, led by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, contends the change would produce more moderate candidates and increase primary election turnout.
Tim Sifert, spokesman for the state’s Republican Party, said voters should be able to elect the candidates of their choice and that political parties should maintain the right to elect their own candidates. “We are adamantly opposed to this constitutional amendment,” Sifert said. The state Democratic Party hasn’t taken an official stand on the measure, but Executive Director Luis Heredia said there is little support for it. “We believe that Prop. 121 does not resolve what the proponents believe, which is to moderate the state,” he said.
Leaders of Arizona’s Libertarian and Green parties argue that the initiative would make it virtually impossible for their candidates to make it onto the general election ballot. “It will destroy third parties in Arizona,” said Warren Severin, chairman of Arizona’s Libertarian Party.