Political parties and open primaries are the electoral equivalent of oil and water. They may coexist, but they don’t mix. So it’s hardly surprising that neither California’s dominant Democrats nor its fading Republicans have ever really embraced Proposition 14, the sweeping ballot measure that abolished partisan primaries six years ago. Some, in fact, say they’ve seen enough. It’s time to scrap it. “If we don’t get California straightened out for every party, at least give them some kind of chance, then why the hell are we involved in politics at all?” asks Tom Palzer, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga.
Palzer, who recently launched his second straight long-shot bid for the U.S. Senate, is the author of a proposed ballot initiative for November 2018 that would wipe out the top-two primary. It would restore the role of parties in picking who’s on the ballot in California’s general elections.
While he’s an activist who’s largely been doing this on his own, Palzer’s effort was crafted at the same time rumors swirled in Sacramento this summer of powerful political groups hoping to do the same thing. That effort, in a perfect world, would have produced an initiative which included “reform” items like new campaign money rules while also repealing the top-two primary. But in an unusually quiet ballot measure year, it never materialized. And it would surely have been fought by self-styled good government groups.