The potentially dramatic effects of two landmark ballot measures approved by California voters in recent years began to emerge Tuesday with a primary election that could lead to shifts in the state’s legislative profile in Sacramento and Washington. In the Bay Area, the new order was most apparent in southern Alameda County, where 19-term Democratic Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark of Fremont was leading county prosecutor Eric Swalwell in the redrawn 15th Congressional District – but by far less than typical for an incumbent. Come the November election, Stark will be facing not a Republican, but fellow Democrat Swalwell – the result of the inaugural run of the state’s “top two” primary system, in which the two leading vote-getters in the primary advance to the fall ballot regardless of party affiliation. The idea was approved by voters as Proposition 14 in 2010.
Early results indicated that several other contests for the House and state Legislature could pit two candidates from the same party against each other in November. Californians were also voting for the first time for candidates vying to represent legislative and congressional districts drawn up not by gerrymandering politicians or the courts, but by a citizens’ commission – the result of a ballot measure that voters passed in 2008, Proposition 11. Stark was one of several incumbents once considered invincible and now thought to be in danger of losing their jobs in redrawn districts.
Full Article: Shift in voting rules shakes up primary elections.