Measure 65: aggressively progressive

By John Kitzhaber, former Governor of Oregon.

As a lifelong progressive democrat, I believe that Measure 65 – the open primary proposal -- is the one measure on the 2008 ballot that presents a truly progressive foundation for our representative form of government. This ballot measure offers an opportunity to undo a fundamental injustice in our voting system and lay the foundation for more effective governance in the future. It will immediately invite all Oregonian voters to meaningfully participate in elections and -- over the long term -- it will create a space in which Oregonians can rebuild their trust in government as a tool for positive progressive change in their communities.

In many legislative districts across Oregon, only members of the two dominant parties may help choose the nominee who – if elected in the general election – will represent all the citizens in the district.

I believe that this kind of exclusion is fundamentally wrong and is incompatible with the democratic and progressive cause. Our history has been one of expanding participation in the electoral process, not restricting it: from the 17th Amendment which provided for direct election of the United States Senate; to the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote; to the 24th Amendment which prohibited the restriction of voting rights due to the inability to pay poll taxes; to the 26th Amendment which lowered the national voting age from 21 to 18. This progressive record of inclusion is based on the belief that the people, not the parties they choose to join are best equipped to govern and to solve our problems.

The current closed system has practical consequences as well. When legislators are sent to Salem by the party members of their districts, rather than by all those who reside there, genuine interests go unrepresented and public trust in the legislature to represent its interests is diluted.

In a progressive democracy, we must always be attentive to the needs and concerns not only of the majority, but of those who don't have a prominent voice. Whether we are developing a framework for health care in Oregon, reworking the tax code, or improving the quality of our schools, we need to have input from all Oregonians if we hope to get it right.

But if an Oregonian never hears from their elected officials during a campaign, what reason do they have to trust the legislature to represent their interests? If we ask them to approve the expansion of a program within a government in which they have no meaningful stake, how should we expect them to respond?

The 2005 Oregon Legislature -- recognizing the low regard in which this institution is held by the general public -- convened the Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature to seek out and address the root causes of this problem. The commission’s first recommendation was to open the primary process to empowering voters without regard to their party affiliation.

Now is the time to heed this considered recommendation and pass Ballot Measure 65.

John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.
Oregon Governor
1995 - 2003

Comments

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Dr. Gov. John, Thanks for weighing in. Your opinion will always have merit for me. I voted against this but believe it will probably pass. So I hope that your valuation of this measure proves to be true. We are likely to have the chance to test it out.

  • The Libertarian Guy (unverified)
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    Oregon should be discussing Instant Run-off Voting instead of Measure 65.

    TLG

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    Dr. K's arguments should be carefully considered. Unfortunately, this measure "opens" the primary while closing the general election where the election actually occurs. Fusion or Instant Run-off Voting or both would be better, by far.

    In addition, if this measure passes, the legislature will have to fix glaring problems with the processes the measure contains for replacing nominees or officeholders and repair the election process for PCPs. See my earlier comment and others on the broken details of this measure.

    I voted "No" and I hope you will as well.

  • RW (unverified)
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    Mr. Kitzhaber: I am a pretty politically-ignorant human. So you might consider me a prime "teachable moment".

    Could you explain to me what you believe will be the outcome of this measure if we see a propagation of splinter progressivist and other party candidates, but a continued, staunch core of conservative voting that stays to the arrowhead of "Republican"?

    I suspect one of the fears is that diversity-tended social progressives will find our collective votes splintered out so severely that we will lose to that effect rather than any one conservative candidate truly having a following and a stand.

    Can you speak to that?

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    Measure 65 is political union-busting.

    Very few Oregonians have Kitzhaber's political influence. Most of us have to work together with many others, learn the art of compromise, and spend a lot of time and effort organizing to create change.

    Measure 65 denies those who do the work getting organized the right to choose their candidate. The net result will be that those who own the media or have the money and influence to control it will call all the shots. Average folks will be silenced, because there will be no point in working together if you can't choose a candidate.

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    Measure 65 is political union-busting.

    Very few Oregonians have Kitzhaber's political influence. Most of us have to work together with many others, learn the art of compromise, and spend a lot of time and effort organizing to create change.

    Measure 65 denies those who do the work getting organized the right to choose their candidate. The net result will be that those who own the media or have the money and influence to control it will call all the shots. Average folks will be silenced, because there will be no point in working together if you can't choose a candidate.

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    Measure 65 is political union-busting.

    Very few Oregonians have Kitzhaber's political influence. Most of us have to work together with many others, learn the art of compromise, and spend a lot of time and effort organizing to create change.

    Measure 65 denies those who do the work getting organized the right to choose their candidate. The net result will be that those who own the media or have the money and influence to control it will call all the shots. Average folks will be silenced, because there will be no point in working together if you can't choose a candidate.

  • (Show?)

    Measure 65 is political union-busting.

    Very few Oregonians have Kitzhaber's political influence. Most of us have to work together with many others, learn the art of compromise, and spend a lot of time and effort organizing to create change.

    Measure 65 denies those who do the work getting organized the right to choose their candidate. The net result will be that those who own the media or have the money and influence to control it will call all the shots. Average folks will be silenced, because there will be no point in working together if you can't choose a candidate.

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    (Sorry for the double post, the site's acting up. Please remove the double and this note if possible.)

  • Joel H (unverified)
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    Gov. Kitzhaber,

    The 2002 French Presidential election is a good example of Rebecca Whetstine's scenario. 9 left-wing candidates together and 5 right-wing candidates together each had about 45% of the vote; 1 centrist and 1 traditionalist candidate had about 10% of the vote together. The top two candidates were Chirac and Le Pen -- obviously not representative of the French people. Arguably, the second round should have had Chirac and Jospin, which would probably have been the result under IRV or approval voting.

    Of course there are important differences between Oregon and France, but I don't know of any that would prevent this scenario. Neither the right wing nor the left wing is a monolith that likes to vote in lock-step, so this scenario might come out either way under M. 65, but either way would be a disservice to Oregon.

    I voted no, but I'd easily vote yes on a proposal for instant runoff or approval voting.

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    Rebecca,

    Your concern is legitimate. But in recent Oregon history, there's only one race I can think of where party infighting appears to do significant damage: the fifth Congressional district. At least in that case, it's been Republicans, not Democrats damaging their chances. So I think the premise that Republicans will pick a candidate and fall into line is less certain than you suggest.

    Like any new system, there will be some strategic adjustment compared to how things work now. This would happen under any kind of election reform.

    Personally, I see lots of opportunity for using the ever-richer communications options for organizing and galvanizing public opinion around the best candidate. I suspect that whatever party or cause is best able to tap into those opportunities would do very well; not only at winning elections, but at tapping into the public's political will.

    Imagine a campaign as distributed and volunteer-run as Barack Obama's under a system like this.

    There are, of course, BlueOregon posters with a stronger grounding in political history than me, who take a different view. But I find myself wondering they don't seem to take into account the rapidly-changing communications landscape.

  • k (unverified)
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    Leo - I'm unclear on how M65 prevents unions or anyone else from having a voice or organizing. No where have I seen in M65 literature that says candidates may not be endorsed or supported by unions, parties or anyone else. Is it possible you are confusing M65 with M64 that basically prohibits fund-collecting?

    And what of all of those Oregonians that do not belong to unions (who will still be able to organize & contribute vast amounts of time & money to candidates) and yet are not members of the media and do not have the money to contribute to political campaigns? If they are independents or have chosen a party that they do not truly align with just to vote in the primary, they are completely without a voice.

    Currently 25% of Oregon's voters have no say in who ends up in the final election. Personally, I find that incredibly UN-democratic. The Bus Project registers voters to encourage participation. We have vote-by-mail, that allows many people to vote who might otherwise be unable to without difficulty whether it be disability, time or other. We talk about encouraging people to vote and we've gone part way. Let's go all of the way to encouraging true democracy and Vote YES on 65; let those 25% who currently have no say in primaries have a voice.

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    This is the only measure that I left blank. I was leaning towards voting against it but just didn't feel enough conviction either way to vote one way or the other.

    The present system has significant drawbacks, IMHO. I very strongly agree with Governor Kitzhaber that exclusion is fundamentally wrong. But I remain unconvinced that M65 would be a better system.

    Given my druthers I'd have modified the existing system rather than dumping it. Let NAVs (and only NAVs) participate in any party's primary. Otherwise I'd leave the present system as is. Seems to me that this would both address the exclusion issue while at the same time preserving the party's right to choose it's own candidate however it wishes.

  • rural resident (unverified)
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    M65 doesn't advance the interest of minor parties, and I don't see how it really helps members of those parties as individual citizens. Under the current system, smaller parties can effectively advance their candidates to the general election. (There are seldom competing candidates at the primary level in the Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc.)

    That means that their candidates appear on the ballot at the time when people are focusing more of their attention on the candidates and issues. Excluding them in the general election (the usual result) isn't in their best interests, nor does it serve the interests of the general electorate well.

    I hope the main goal of M65 isn't simply make the general election ballot tidier. Getting rid of the "clutter" (all of those minor party candidates) does reduce the number of things voters have to think about, but that's not necessarily in the best interests of democracy. I'm also bothered by the contention that, under M65, the winner will be that person with "majority" support. It doesn't. It only guarantees that, of those who choose to vote, one candidate will mathematically have at least 50.01% of the vote. But forcing people to hold their noses while voting for one of two bad alternatives -- or encouraging them not to cast a vote in certain races, which will surely result from limiting choices -- doesn't mean that the winner can claim a sort of mandate. Under the current system, if you dislike the D and R candidates, you can, in some cases, cast an otherwise meaningless protest vote by selecting a minor party candidate.

    John Kitzhaber wrote:

    When legislators are sent to Salem by the party members of their districts, rather than by all those who reside there, genuine interests go unrepresented and public trust in the legislature to represent its interests is diluted.

    Wrong. Legislators aren't sent to Salem by the party members. They're advanced to the general election ballot by party members in those districts. They're only sent to Salem in an election the includes ALL registered voters in those districts.

    This kind of muddleheaded thinking illustrates why I don't have much sympathy with the argument that "Independents" or "NAVs" suffer terrible injustices and are excluded from the primary process. They're making a conscious decision to lock themselves out. Most people know that by registering as an Independent, they won't be allowed to vote for candidates in the primaries. Since the purpose of primaries is to encourage parties to advance their best candidates to the general election, it makes sense that only party members should vote for their party's nominees.

    Most NAVs are philosophically close to at least SOME party (even if it's not the two dominant ones). They're not going to be able to vote for BOTH the D and R nominees, so if they want to have a say in the process, they should register in that party for the primary. They don't have to change back right away, because party registration has little effect in the general election. Besides, it isn't that hard to re-register. Bill O'Reilly blathers at length about how he's an "Independent." Whatever his reason for so claiming (ego, commercial interest, self-delusion), he clearly isn't, and neither are most people who register this way.

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    Rural Resident, you say:

      Wrong. Legislators aren't sent to Salem by the party members. They're advanced to the general election ballot by party members in those districts. They're only sent to Salem in an election the includes ALL registered voters in those districts.

    I think you've missed the point. In general elections in East Portland, Democrats defeat Republicans with 75% of the vote and more. In Eastern Oregon, Democrats often don't even bother to run. These are not exceptional cases, but common outcomes; in 2006, half the legislative general elections were decided by over 60% of the vote, and a quarter were decided by over 70%. This cycle it looks to be even more lopsided, with 21 uncontested races in the House alone.

    The meaningful decisions in these districts are made in the primary, when often a majority of voters in the district are excluded (anyone not registered with the majority party).

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    Generally, I am disinclined to post "THIS" type posts, since they really don't add anything. But rural resident really hit the nail on the head. This is perhaps the most muddle headed argument I've heard from Governor Kitzhaber, and his post clearly shows that he hasn't really thought all the implications of this law all the way through.

  • rw (unverified)
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    All the years I lived in Oklahoma, I was denied the opportunity to vote in primaries, as I was not D or R. There never were any other options!

    It was distressing to ultimately be "forced" into D party membership simply to gain access to the right to vote... in primaries.

    However, the schisming of voter numbers across splintered possibilities can be a problem if you have a heavily-galvanized opposition that aggregates to fewer options.

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    By the way, for anyone wanting to see the breakdown of 2006 or 2008 legislative races:

    Oregon state elections, 2006

    Oregon legislative elections, 2008

  • rw (unverified)
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    And here, on NPR, an interactive map:

    http://www.npr.org/news/specials/election2008/2008-election-map.html#/president-nprOvM/

  • jeremyscorttrogers (unverified)
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    First of all, none of us should be here talking to each other on a Saturday before an election. We should be out talking to voters about electing progressive candidates and defeating regressive + passing progresive ballot measures. I'm about to head out. Defend Oregon is having a canvass, the Bus Project is heading out to help Jim Gilbert and there are lots of opportunities.

    That being said, I think that folks should take a minute to stop thinking about mathematical "what ifs" and start thinking about what voters want. Up in Washington, 70% of voters in an independent poll said they loved the top two primary. An equal number said they hated the pick-a-party primary that I've seen folks here advocate for instead of the top-two.

    While a small circle of us here on the blogs sit around and think about how elections could be rigged as if they occur in a vaccuum and as if candidates don't decide to run on their own and as if Republicans are so disciplined that they could control who runs in elections, all the rest of Oregon voters are out there thinking hell-i don't always agree with the Ds or the Rs, I don't like the fact that neither of them have the courage to challenge their interest group bases and I wish that I had more choices.

    M65 is for those voters.

    Thank you Dr. Kitzhaber for your post.

  • rw (unverified)
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    hey there jeremy: i've a broken foot and a pretty bad flu. C'n I shake yer hand?

    ;)... point taken, if I can understand it.

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    Whatever you think about the good or bad effects this measure might have, it is all conjecture. We have seen arguments going both ways, for example, concerning its effects on minor parties, neither having solid evidence to offer. (My own take is that the opponents' arguments come closer to substantiation than the proponents, but that's me.)

    This measure is a statewide experiment. While some of its features have been tried elsewhere, other significant details are entirely novel. Voting for this is taking a flyer based on the proponents' claims.

    And you can't argue that instant runoff voting would be an improvement and also argue for this, as it actually moves us the other direction in terms of discerning the majority's preferences.

    So, the proponents' argument comes down to: 1. We have a serious problem (arguable). 2. This measure would fix it (also arguable). We also have to worry about the possibility (probability?) that it could make matters worse. The answers to that question tend to beg it and recycle back to 1 and 2.

    I just don't think the case has been made.

  • rural resident (unverified)
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    Pete, I agree with you that many of our legislative races aren't very competitive. We either have incumbents who are so well regarded that nobody in either party feels it's worthwhile to run against them, or we have major parties that are so dominant that nobody from the oppositon party wants to take on the challenge.

    How does M65 improve things? The best result you might get is to put up a sacrificial lamb who is a member of the same party, and then watch him get a small percentage of the vote. You still haven't changed the main dynamic of a one-sided election. In heavily Republican Eastern Oregon districts, for example, what are the Dems going to do -- try to upset the process by voting for a spoiler candidate. If there's a competitive race between two or more candidates of one party, the purpose of the primary is for that party to select their candidate. If "Independents" really care, they can temporarily change their registration.

    The answer is to come up with a process that encourages a wide variety of qualified candidates to run so that there are choices in each race. Wouldn't it be better for the other parties to find such candidates, rather than limit choices in the general election? If we really want to improve the process and have better choices, let's do the following:

    1) Make it less expensive and time-consuming to run, so more people -- with a wider variety of backgrounds -- can do so;

    2) Understand the process better. The legislative process is complicated. Sometimes a "yes" vote on a bill doesn't mean approval, and a "no" vote doesn't mean that someone is against every facet of an issue. These ridiculous ads saying that "someone voted for a tax increase X number of times," for example, lead not only to legislators who are afraid of making decision, but also to people becoming disgusted with the process and not wanting to run for office;

    3) Be less dogmatic. Yes, issues are important. But legislators considers lots of issues. Forcing someone to agree with you on every issue, or vote for your cause 100% of the time before you'll vote for them, discourages people from running; and

    4) stop expecting our public officials to be perfect in every way. I don't care if Candidate X threw a water balloon at someone when they were in the second grade. Yes, character and competence matter. But what we want are good decision makers who carefully consider various points of view, treat others (including people in the opposing parties) with respect, and make the best judgments they can given the facts and time available. People have flaws. They have skeletons in their closets. Anyone who's been alive long enough to run for office has made a bad decision now and then. Unless it's really major, get over it. Look how annoyed most of us at BO are over the kerfuffle over the Obama-Ayers thing -- and with good reason.

    M65 doesn't do anything to change the fundamental flaws of the system, and limiting choices in the general election isn't an improvement. We can come up with a less superficial solution.

  • bird (unverified)
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    If this measure prevents there being but 2 candidates on the ballot, it is unconstitutional and our courts will eliminate it. I am deeply concerned because the measure appears to remove a third or fourth candidate from consideration. For those of us independents that do not always believe there is a democrat or a gop candidate worthy of our vote, our choices have been taken from us. How do you justify disenfranchising us with a simple stroke? This is not the sort of thing I could imagine of a truly democratic society. I usually vote for democrats, but I would prefer a green party victory in many cases over someone entrenched in the politics of party. Party members do not change their stripes and are beholding to their backers. This places undue burden on other office seekers. ( I am not speaking of the governor, as he is one politician that I have deep respect for) As long as we have 2 parties, we will have ultimate corruption. When we have parties that actually serve the interests of the people that vote, we will have considerations for others points of view. I bring as an example, the fact that neither presidential candidate will speak of issues that are of extreme importance to the people of this country. No talk about the war, about infrastructure, of education, of medical coverage for all by our government, of safe food and water, or even the following of the rule of law as set forth in our constitution. And strangely, no talk about how to fix the economic disaster that is looting our treasury to pay bankers big dividends on their mistakes, and even perhaps RICO based conspiracy. I watched with awe as numerous democrats voted to commit treason on the floor of the senate by voting to abandon our constitution due to what can only guessed at as morbid fear. They voted to suspend habeas corpus when there is no war or other rational reason. No one talked about their violating their oath of office in all this time. Just sort of ignored it.

    Alas, if you vote to limit democracy, you get what you pay for. And you will pay for it as ever more of these "rights" are eroded, and ignored, and crushed under foot.

    I am ashamed to have to be a part of such a discussion in a country where democracy is supposed to be protected by a republican form of government. When our elected officials suggest we abandon our rights, we should all be deeply concerned. The 2 party system is what got us to this point. It has clearly failed in all respects. It deserves no trust.

    Vote no, protect your children if not yourself.

  • Joel H (unverified)
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    This morning, I compared perceived corruption in countries (from Transparency Interational) with their election methods for the head of state, which I got mostly from Wikipedia. I was surprised to find that runoff methods such as M. 65 were associated with governments with approximately the same average corruption perception as First Past The Post systems, which is what we use now. These had average scores of 3.47 and 3.44 respectively, which is about the level associated with Brazil, Mexico, China and India. However, (and what was not surprising) the systems I grouped together as "parliamentary" (where the head of state is elected by, and responsible to, the legislature) had average scores of 5.06, about the level of South Africa, Italy, and Costa Rica.

    I don't know what this means, except that most world governments outside Europe are perceived as completely corrupt. But would Oregon consider a parliamentary election of the governor?

  • cecil (unverified)
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    Overpopulation by high birth rate poor people will send not only this state into ruin, but the USA will not be recognizable in the second half of the 21st century. "Progressives" are simply utopianists. They are the reincarnation of the San Francisco "Diggers" from the late '60s. Only it is taking them longer to realize a failed dream. But the pending scale of failure will be irreversible. You will not be able to call off the party and send everybody home like the Diggers did when the dream failed. The poor will be here and they will stay here and there will be nothing you can do about it. They will only increase in higher rates. In the coming years you misguided dummies will realize that, but it will be far too late.

  • Joel H (unverified)
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    Actually, the answer to that is so obvious I'm embarrassed to have asked it. It would be perceived as undemocratic.

    Here's my spreadsheet (I've made a couple revisions): http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=peYcAWBxHC4kkWgoHCOBaLA

  • Joel H (unverified)
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    Cecil: It occurred to me yesterday that, going by the McCain campaign's idea of "Real Americans" -- that is, people with rural, country, religious, close family values, who drive pickups and care about tradition, Mexico is way more American than the United States. Your thoughts?

    Disclaimer: I also drive a pickup, but it wasn't made in Mexico.

  • rw (unverified)
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    So today I voted. And I'm disappointed to find that nearly every single race in WA county has nobody to vote for but an incumbent, or a single person.

    THere has to be a better way. There just has to.

    Campaign finance reform is, effectively, sitting in the electric chair with the juice heading this way as of this election.

    How is there any hope of lively and fruitful local-level elections in this climate?

  • cecilo (unverified)
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    McCain campaign's idea of "Real Americans" -- that is, people with rural, country, religious, close family values, who drive pickups and care about tradition, Mexico is way more American than the United States. Your thoughts?>>>

    Some of that is true, but the traditions, and therefore cultures, are different and have been tested long enough thus far to conclude there are growing signs of Balkanization, the strength of which is headed into uncharted territory. What then? Mexico is not America. At the time we first trekked cross this continent we were also poor, but we had something then that we do not have now. Free land. You cannot get 320- 640 acres for free anymore. There are no more gold, copper, and silver mines to lift us out of poverty. Too many poor give up now, and when there are too many suffering poor, the party will be over. And that is exactly where we are headed.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thank you Dr. John!

    I believe that we have a healthier democracy when there are debates among party members rather than just the "Team D vs. Team R" stuff we've seen in recent years. Sen. President and then Gov. Kitzhaber was involved in some of those issue debates inside the Democratic Party. I was on his side of most of those debates.

    Pete F., the interesting thing about the 5th District is what would have happened if there had been a single ballot when Jackie Winters ran against Zupancic for the chance to take on Darlene Hooley. Zupancic ran an intellectually empty campaign--he hated her voting record, and she was "too old" (obviously he hadn't tried to keep up with her hectic schedule or he wouldn't have said that).

    Suppose the primary ballot for 5th District had said, in alphabetical order,

    Hooley Winters Zupancic

    Zupancic might have won the nomination the year he ran against Jackie Winters, but he failed to carry Marion County in either the primary or the general. Perhaps the top 2 under this scenario might have been Hooley and Winters. In that case, a general election between 2 women former legislators might have been more intelligent than what we got with Zupancic vs. Hooley.

    And here's where IRV runs into a problem in my mind. There are folks in Marion County who regard Zupancic as "the man who attacked Jackie" and know both Winters and Hooley as hard working legislators who made an impression on the people who met them.

    Exactly why would IRV have been a better situation than One Ballot in the above scenario? Esp. among those who say "I respect (Darlene/ Jackie) but I would never want to vote for her"?

    I hope Rep. Barnhart sponsors IRV legislation in the next session and there are lots of public hearings. That way we could hear more detail than "IRV is better than Measure 65" as we often read here.

    Why? My impression of the IRV advocates here is that their answer is "because we said so, that's why".

    Anyone who ever worked in sales knows that is no way to sell anything, esp. an idea or a proposed change to a current system.

  • k (unverified)
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    "So, the proponents' argument comes down to: 1. We have a serious problem (arguable). 2. This measure would fix it (also arguable). We also have to worry about the possibility (probability?) that it could make matters worse. The answers to that question tend to beg it and recycle back to 1 and 2."

    Sue - Let me offer the other side to your arguement.

    So, the opponents' argument comes down to: 1. We don't have a problem even though 25% of Oregon's voters have NO say in the primary (false). 2. This measure would destroy democracy (since when does allowing MORE voters to participate destroy democracy?). The sky hasn't yet fallen in those states that do have open primaries which begs the question, WHY are certain organizations so fearful of it? Perhaps the answer is that despite claims, they don't really want everyone to vote, they want everyone to belong to a party and stick to that party line.

    Seriously, the comments I am reading smack of the same type of fear-mongering and paranoia that the Rs, specifically the Christian Conservatives, try to induce in regards to electing a D for POTUS.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thanks, k.

    What the opposition reminds me of is when the Measure 9 campaign finance reform landed on the ballot -- the opinion of "professionals" (lobbyists and others invested in the status quo) was that it didn't have a chance.

    It got on the ballot with signatures in all 36 counties, but there were legislators who didn't want it to pass and were thrilled when it was overthrown by the Supreme Court. They liked the status quo, whether voters supported it or not.

    What I believe is happening with M.65 is what sometimes happens when there is a political establishment which is convinced only they have the revealed truth.

    40 years ago, in 1968, lots of those "always done it that way" ideas were challenged, which is why it was seen as such a revolutionary year.

    Challenging orthodoxy is happening this year when Republicans, absolutely sure they spoke for anyone who mattered, are having their heads handed to them if polls are anywhere near accurate.

    It happened in the primary of 1984 when the "good old boys and girls club", otherwise known as the Oregon Democratic Party establishment, supported Mondale and then Hart + Jackson won something close to 70% of the Democratic vote in that primary.

    This measure challenges orthodoxy by saying people who don't make the effort to register with a party to vote in a primary and then re-register NAV after the primary if they so choose should have a role in choosing nominees.

    As I understand it, there are states which require parties holding primaries to fund those primaries themselves.

    Now that over 20% of Oregonians don't register with major parties, why should those voters be required to fund those closed primaries with their tax dollars?

    "But we've always done it that way" is not an answer.

    When Dr. Kitzhaber was Sen. President and then Gov., he did not strictly follow orthodoxy. That is why some of us were such fans of him.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    One premise of those who support this measure is that it will drive wingnut extremists out of business in Oregon. If that were so, I would be be an enthusiastic supporter of M65. I'm just wondering if it is so. Would a new generation of that extinct species, the moderate Republican, burst onto the scene? A new generation in the mode of Norma Paulus, Dave Frohenmayer, or even a Tom McCall? Would the Republican Party join the reality based community? Would the militant fundies be cast into the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and gnashing of teeth? :-)

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    k:

    I've seen a lot of well reasoned arguments against it, and the "fearful" claim is offensive. There's plenty of "fear-mongering" on the pro side of this measure, including the ones such as yours that impute dire ulterior motives to those who oppose it. To ask "why are certain organizations so fearful of it?" is to mock the motives of those organizations. I stand by the questions I asked, which did not reference the motives of the proponents, despite my curiosity.

    I hope you can see the logical fallacy here: If you don't like this proposal, you must fear change. It's not an answer, it's a dodge.

    I've posted repeatedly on this subject, citing, among other things, electoral theory put forward by Kenneth Arrow, 1972 Nobel Laureate in Economics. There is good electoral theory to support the idea that this scheme would lead to reduced confidence that the majority's will is expressed in the final outcome under several likely scenarios.

    As I said, the case just has not been made for this complete and experimental overhaul of the electoral system. Given the extent of the change proposed, there should be a lot more evidence that it leads to improvement of some kind. We have only the proponents' assertions on that score.

    I'll also point out, once again, that "saying no to the primary" is not the same as being disenfranchised. Everybody has an opportunity to opt in or out of any primary or other nominating process of a party. Registration is just the first step in the nominating process. And saying that this scheme leads to greater turnout is just a claim. There is no evidence connecting this cause to that effect.

  • KC Hanson (unverified)
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    LT says: "I believe that we have a healthier democracy when there are debates among party members rather than just the "Team D vs. Team R" stuff we've seen in recent years."

    Problem is that while LT argues FOR M65,the debates between Party Members will be reduced under M65, at least any debates voters are privy to. Anyone who thinks there won't be enormous pressure from parties and from wealthy sources to limit candidacies PRIOR to the filing deadline is fooling themselves.

    The upshot is this: there are a myriad of scenarios that could play out, and not even the proponents of this measure have a firm take on how it will transform our election system.

    I chose to become a Democrat long ago; I consciously remain a Democrat in order to move a more progressive agenda from within the Party.

    Every registered voter has made a personal choice as to their alignment.

    M65 throws this into a disarray. With passage of M65, either I will have to play a strategic game, anticipating the vote of the Republican voter in order to be sure a Dem advances to the final round or I will have no choice at all since the most favored Democratic candidate has already been pre-selected and other Democratic candidates have been dissuaded from running.

    Either way, I'll have less choice as a voter.

    Minor parties may be split on the possible ramifications of this measure, but you can be sure of one thing: while the field may be wide open to voters, the choices will be limited, the discourse will be narrowed, and the top candidates' best friend will be the cash that they will desperately need in order to contend.

    I'm sure Loren Parks would appreciate our passage of M65.

  • (Show?)

    One premise of those who support this measure is that it will drive wingnut extremists out of business in Oregon.

    The implications of such a premise are deeply disturbing in light of the cosmic reality that what goes around comes around. Would progressives like Republicans trying to engineer internal Democratic party dynamics? I can guarantee that the vast bulk of wingnuts don't see themselves as extremists but do see progressives as extremists.

  • (Show?)

    k, LT:

    1) We don't have a problem because the 20% (not 25%) who have "no say" in a party's nomination do so by their own free will.

    2) The phrase "destroy democracy" didn't come up about this measure until "K" mentioned it. Clearly you hope to delegitimize opposition to this measure by lying about people with whom you disagree. I think this says far more about you than it does your opponents.

    3) What opponents of this measure do, legitimately, argue, is that it leads to pathological electoral results. We've given specific examples from history, which you refuse to acknowledge because you assert that Oregon is supposedly an exceptional place where the normal rules of politics don't apply (and you provide absolutely no evidence for this dubious assertion). This appeal to arrogance (bash the French) is not convincing.

    4) You also seem to think the onus is on the opposition to prove that this dangerous, stupid, system, is dangerous and stupid. You're wrong. The onus is on you to show how this system is actually better, which is something you have failed to even mention, much less argue.

  • (Show?)

    k, LT:

    1) We don't have a problem because the 20% (not 25%) who have "no say" in a party's nomination do so by their own free will.

    2) The phrase "destroy democracy" didn't come up about this measure until "K" mentioned it. Clearly you hope to delegitimize opposition to this measure by lying about people with whom you disagree. I think this says far more about you than it does your opponents.

    3) What opponents of this measure do, legitimately, argue, is that it leads to pathological electoral results. We've given specific examples from history, which you refuse to acknowledge because you assert that Oregon is supposedly an exceptional place where the normal rules of politics don't apply (and you provide absolutely no evidence for this dubious assertion). This appeal to arrogance (bash the French) is not convincing.

    4) You also seem to think the onus is on the opposition to prove that this dangerous, stupid, system, is dangerous and stupid. You're wrong. The onus is on you to show how this system is actually better, which is something you have failed to even mention, much less argue.

  • (Show?)

    Sue,

    I largely agree with what you've been saying here, but there is one fundamental point of disagreement which I believe is very important.

    It's true that "everybody has an opportunity to opt in or out of any primary or other nominating process of a party." But nobody has any opportunity to opt in or out of the tax dollars which pay for the party selection process.

    I don't see a meaningful difference between an "they can opt in" hurdle and other means of restricting who can participate in public elections (birth certificates, poll taxes, etc).

    A hurdle is a hurdle. If the parties want to restrict who can participate in their internal selection process then it seems to me that they are perfectly free to pay for their own selection processes.

  • (Show?)

    k says: "Currently 25% of Oregon's voters have no say in who ends up in the final election. Personally, I find that incredibly UN-democratic."

    This is wrong for many reasons. First, as others have noted, any registered voter can join a party and vote in its primary. Second, as no one has mentioned, any voter can join a minor party and have very great influence on the party's nominations merely by participating in party processes. M 65 abolishes that route to the general election.

    Third, as no one has mentioned, anyone can collect about 18,500 signatures statewide and put a candidate on the ballot for any statewide office. For a legislative district, the signature requirement is only about 300 for a House district and 600 for a Senate district. Under existing law, your rights as a voter includes the right to sign a petition to nominate your own candidate to the general election. M 65 abolishes that right completely.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, but every new post on M 65 needs a reprint of the expanded version of my op-ed from the Oregonian (for those new to the conversation):

    Measure 65 will destroy most of Oregon's minor political parties, reduce voter choices, confuse the ballots, reward dirty politicking, and fail to achieve the stated purpose of its sponsors: to elect more moderate candidates to partisan offices.

    Measure 65 Destroys Most Minor Parties

    Today, Oregon's six minor parties can provide good alternatives to Democratic and Republican candidates in the general election. But Measure 65, the "top two primary" on the November ballot, effectively abolishes the Pacific Green, Constitution, Working Families, and Peace parties by removing their legal basis (getting 1% of the vote in the previous statewide general election). Under Measure 65, these 4 minor parties will cease to exist as of November 2010. Each can continue to exist after that only if it has increased its registered membership to about 10,500 ( ½ of 1% of all Oregon registered voters). The Constitution and Working families would need to increase their memberships by a factor of 4 or 5. The Peace Party would need to increase by a factor of 100. The Pacific Green Party would need a 25% expansion of membership.

    Measure 65 is intended by its sponsors to remove all minor-party and citizen-sponsored candidates from the general election ballot, including those supported by tens of thousands of voter signatures.

    Remaining Parties Subject to Identify Theft

    Under Measure 65, any resident can register as, say, a Democrat (up to the 70th day before the primary election) and immediately file as a candidate, with "Registered: Democratic" next to his name on the ballot. That person might be a Nazi, a Communist, a convicted child molester, you name it. Any political party can have its identity stolen in this way by complete strangers who suddenly take the party's name on the primary ballot.

    Measure 65 will thus force minor parties to endorse candidates they don't agree with, just to oppose the strangers on the ballot suddenly displaying their party names. Minor parties currently don't field candidates for every partisan office, rarely nominating more than a few candidates for the 75 races for the Oregon Legislature, for example. To avoid having their party labels hijacked by strangers, each minor party will be forced to endorse major-party candidates in those races, even if they differ with the minor party on the issues. This will further erode the identity of each minor party, which is usually based on a coherent, but not “mainstream,” political philosophy.

    Each major or minor party will fight the resulting confusion by endorsing a candidate in each race, since Measure 65 also allows party endorsements to appear on the ballot. No party would want to endorse more than one candidate per race, as that would split the votes of the party faithful and harm its endorsed candidates' chances to finish in the "top two" and advance to the general election. If voters were to follow these party endorsements, Measure 65 will, in effect, replace the major-party primaries with backroom endorsement deals.�

    The "Ringer" Primary

    Under Measure 65, primary elections could become a game of "ringers," with political consultants recruiting candidates just to split the votes of the other parties. Republican consultants could recruit people to register and file as "Democratic" candidates, splitting the Democratic vote. Democrats could recruit phony "Republicans." Both of them could recruit phony "Independents" and phony "Libertarians," further increasing the party identity theft.

    Expect a confusing ballot, with a dozen or more candidates for each major office who are "Registered" and/or "Endorsed" the surviving parties. In primary elections since 1979 in Louisiana, the only state where the Measure 65 system has operated for a full election cycle, there have been nine, nine, eight, 12, 16, 11, 17, and 12 candidates on the ballot for governor alone.

    Not Necessarily Advance Moderate Candidates

    Measure 65 will not necessarily achieve the stated goal of its supporters--to advance moderate candidates to the general election. In Louisiana, it has advanced extremists, as the moderate vote is split among several moderate candidates in the primary. Ku Klux Clan leader David Duke has twice advanced to the statewide Louisiana general election. Of the 16 candidates for Governor in 1995, the top two (with 26% and 19% of the vote in the primary) were the two considered most extreme by conventional political observers. The organization FairVote states:

    A Republican state legislator, Duke ran a strong second in the 1990 U.S. Senate election and gained a spot in the runoff election in the governor's race in 1991. In that 1991 runoff, he faced Edwin Edwards, a former governor with a history of suspected corruption. Indicating the polarized nature of the choice between Duke and Edwards, a popular bumper sticker in favor of Edwards was: "Vote the Crook: It's Important."

    In the 1995 governor's race, sixteen candidates ran in the opening round, including four major candidates who ultimately won at least 18% of the vote. The two most ideologically extreme major candidates were Mike Foster, a conservative Republican who earned Pat Buchanan's endorsement and inherited much of David Duke's constituency, and Cleo Fields. a leading liberal Democrat in the Congressional Black Caucus. They advanced to the runoff election with a combined vote of only 45% of votes casts, with the more centrist vote split among other candidates. Foster ultimately was elected in the runoff election.

    A Louisiana-style nonpartisan primary easily can produce these kind of results because in a large field of candidates, the top two vote-getters can have relatively few votes. In a multi-candidate field, this rule tends to favor non-moderate candidates with the strongest core support that can be narrow rather than broad.

    Former Governor Edwards is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for corruption.

    For more reading on this subject, see:

    http://www.nwprogressive.org/Special/Primary/ http://southerncrown.blogspot.com/2005/09/should-mississippi-change-its-primary.html http://southerncrown.blogspot.com/2004/10/will-washington-and-california-cross.html http://www.fairvote.org/irv/louisiana.htm

  • (Show?)

    People like to bring up the cost, but the fact is that ballots would have to be printed and elections held even if we completely removed the partisan primaries from the election and made the parties handle their nomination process.

    There are a number of non-partisan elections that happen in May every 2 years, not to mention president.

    What would the effect of moving them off the ballot? You'd see much, much lower turnout in the May elections (which is an even bigger problem if the double majority item doesn't pass).

    Plus, you'd have a much smaller population of people picking who the nominee for each party. For instance, in Multnomah County it could be a few hundred to maybe a thousand or two, as opposed to 85,000+.

    There are plenty of problems with our current system, but M65 does nothing but bring in more problems. There are other solutions that are much better than this - and yes, I have been actively lobbying for some of those changes.

    I just have a real hard time believing that the parties aren't going to do everything they can to limit the number of candidates on the May ballot. And once that happens, people will have even less choices than they do now.

  • (Show?)

    Particularly interesting is that some prominent Democrats support M 65, when I think it will hurt the D party most of all. Governor Arnold in California apparently agrees, as he is now puhing a nearly identical top-two primary proposal for 2010. See http://www.politickerca.com/node/See

    How does it hurt Democrats the most? It degrades the value of "Democrat" on the ballot by allowing an unlimited number of candidates, including ringers (see my above long post), to display that label next to their names on the ballot. Voters now see "Democrat" only on the general election ballot and know that the person has been nominated via the primary election by members of the party. This is extremely valuable to the Democratic candidate, who is quite likely to be outspent by the R in any serious race. (For example, Governor Kulongoski was outspent by Ron Saxton by $9 million to $6 million.) Under M 65, any number of strangers can appear on the primary ballot with "Democrat" next to their names. Even worse, the label "Democrat" on the general election ballot will have far less significance, because that candidate will have been placed on the general election ballot not by "Democrats" but by the electorate as a whole. Does that candidate really have Democratic values and support the Democratic position on issues? Voters will not be able to know that, under Measure 65.

    By devaluaing the label "Democrat" on both the primary and general election ballots, M 65 will greatly advantage Republicans, in my view. Maybe that is why it is Gov. Arnold's new project.

  • (Show?)

    In the above post, the link to Politicker did not work. Here is it: http://www.politickerca.com/node/2889

  • (Show?)

    What would the effect of moving them off the ballot? You'd see much, much lower turnout in the May elections (which is an even bigger problem if the double majority item doesn't pass).

    That's a false concern. Non-partisan ballots would be printed the same way that they are today. Under Measure 65, every Oregonian will receive the same ballot in both the primary and in the general election.

    Election costs will go down under this measure, if the county clerks are to be believed.

    Dan's suggestions about hijacking are equally applicable to current partisan primaries, and the notion of "ringers" is just not born out by Oregon's experience in non-partisan races.

    What we saw in Portland and Eugene in the Mayoral races were a whole lot of candidates filed, and just a couple of credible candidates picking up the majority of votes.

    At the end of the day, Dr. Kitzhaber pointed out the best reasons to vote for this measure in that it will to allow the 400,000 Oregonians who currently have no say in who appears on the general election ballot in Oregon's biggest races to have a say, and to ensure that there are fewer non-contested races in November. Parties will still have control their process of endorsement, they simply will no longer dominate Oregon's nominating process.

  • Lou (unverified)
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    Whatever we do-- please let's maintain the status quo. I mean the two party system is so functional and predicatable. What's the problem? Measure 65 may not be the Anti-Christ, but it truly frightens me. Afer all, what could come next if it passed. This is not what our founding fathers imagined.

    I have complete certainty that somewhere in the Federalist Papers there was an article about the Rights of Democracies to Independent Expenditure Campaigns---I think it was the last paper, in fact, it was written prior to Hamilton losing his last stand and was published postumously in the New York Post. I almost lose my breath imagining what a post Measure 65 world could mean for our democracy. Imagine the reality of denying free speech to the 3 or 4 people who get to sit around the table with millions of dollars of other peoples' money. Unbelievable!

    There are religions based on things that were found buried in New York. These religions have nothing on the secret messages that were left buried for Chuck Schumer by our founding fathers. Measure 65 is true heresy and would lead us farther and farther away from the divine and enlightened path that the one and holy Democratic Party has established for us. All Hail Chuck! Vote No on 65.

  • (Show?)

    Sal:

    You obviously didn't read my entire posting. I was responding to the person who said it wasn't fair for everyone to have to pay for partisan primaries. So I was talking about what would happen if we pull the partisan primaries entirely off the May ballot.

  • Sal Peralta (unverified)
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    Jenni, my point is simply that you have raised a false dilemma. The way to create equity in the system is to allow every voter to participate in elections for legislative and statewide office. There is no reason for private organizations to control the state's nominating process, and have that process paid for by the public dime.

    And again, though it may be true that fewer people will participate in the Democratic or Republican endorsement process, it is not the case that fewer people will be selecting candidates who move on to the general election. If Paul G's assumption that there would be an increase in 3-5% of NAV's voting (Keisling and Paulus who have more experience with Oregon elections think it will be higher), we'd have an additional 150,000 people voting in primary elections that they are currently locked out of.

  • (Show?)

    No, I didn't raise a false dilemma. I was answering a concern someone brought up. A poster said it wasn't fair for everyone to pay for the party's nomination process. So I talked about what would happen if we took the system we have right now and removed the partisan primary (so taxpayers would no longer be paying for it). Then that partisan nomination process would be controlled by the parties, through whatever process they wanted to use.

    The May primary would then only include the non-partisan races, ballot measures, levies, etc.

    So you'd have a small number of people choosing who the Dem and who the Republican would be - which is much, much worse than what we have now. Those two candidates (one from each party) would then be on the general ballot.

    By removing the races that bring out the greatest turnout, you'd see a much lower turnout in the May primary.

    I want to see the most people possible voting in those nominations (which is why I would support opening up partisan primaries to NAV), but at the same time a Party should be able to choose who is allowed to nominate the person who will represent their Party.

    But back to M65 - it has multiple major problems, including how it handles legislative vacancies, candidate vacancies, and PCP elections.

  • Steve Rankin (unverified)
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    Dan Meek notes that another Louisiana-style "open primary" initiative has been filed in California. It was filed by a fellow named Peace who formerly worked in Gov. Gray Davis's administration.

    In November 2004, California voters wisely defeated a similar initiative. Prop. 62 lost in 51 of the state's 58 counties.

    Besides Schwarzenegger, other Republicans who backed Prop. 62 were Pete Wilson and Richard Riordan. Democrats who supported it were Leon Panetta and state comptroller Steve Westley.

    At least one of the two co-authors of Prop. 62 is a gung-ho Democrat who thinks that the "open primary" will help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans.

  • Steve Rankin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Dan Meek notes that another Louisiana-style "open primary" initiative has been filed in California. It was filed by a fellow named Peace who formerly worked in Gov. Gray Davis's administration.

    In November 2004, California voters wisely defeated a similar initiative. Prop. 62 lost in 51 of the state's 58 counties.

    Besides Schwarzenegger, other Republicans who backed Prop. 62 were Pete Wilson and Richard Riordan. Democrats who supported it were Leon Panetta and state comptroller Steve Westley.

    At least one of the two co-authors of Prop. 62 is a gung-ho Democrat who thinks that the "open primary" will help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans.

  • (Show?)

    Jenni - There is no guarantee that the candidates would be from the two major parties, or even from different parties. The parties can endorse whomever they'd like, and the voters will select them (or not) from a list of candidates.

    You assume that the party endorsement would be all-powerful. I'm not so sure. I give even odds that the DPO would have endorsed MacPherson in the AG's race had it been a caucus, but I don't believe that would have stopped the SEIU from dumping $350,000 into the race on Kroger's behalf, nor do I believe such an endorsement would have been determinative in the general election outcome.

    Idle speculation aside, I think Governor Kitzhaber is right. The first question we should consider is whether it's fair to have 25 percent of the state's population with no voice in who appears on the general election ballot for Oregon's most important offices.

  • (Show?)

    I caught Linda Williams talking about this on KPOJ the other day and I came away with the distinct impression that she's opposed to M65. She made it quite clear that she believes that Independents and minor parties would fare worse under M65, not better.

    In retrospect I suppose it was foolish of me to make the assumption but I just figured that Sal would have a similar opinion.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I believe that electoral systems in Oregon and throughout the US are rigged to favor the major parties. When I chaired the DPO campaign committee, I argued that the party should open the primary, which it did, for a cycle or two. Still, as does Dan Meek, I do not see closed party primaries as voter disenfranchisement. Voters have several options, and no party, as far as I know, rejects anyone who wants to register with it.

    There are many electoral changes that can address problems of the present system. Fusion, IRV, and most important of all, campaign finance reform come to mind. Although M65 should have some positive effects, I fear that the negative ones would predominate. The system rewards the promotion of shill candidates registered in rival parties. The weakening of party identification is bound to increase the influence of major political contributors, which is why, I believe, M65 is strongly supported by the big business lobbies and several businesses that are major electoral players.

  • (Show?)

    Sal-

    You're still not getting what I am talking about. I was not talking about M65 - I was responding to someone who talked about everyone having to pay for the partisan nomination process.

    So I discussed this issue and what would happen if UNDER OUR CURRENT SYSTEM we removed partisan primaries from the ballot and instead had the parties handle their nomination process. Then taxpayers would not be paying for the party's nomination process.

    I wasn't talking about endorsements, I was talking about the Party holding the nomination process outside the election system and that nominee being the only one with their party label on the general election ballot.

  • (Show?)

    I understand what you were talking about. It's a false dilemma. What you were discussing is a hypothetical that is not relevant to the issue at hand.

    Kevin, clearly I believe that Linda and Dan are wrong about Measure 65, particularly as it relates to the Independent Party.

    Tom, why should I have to join a political party in order to have a say in who appears on the general election ballot? As I understand it, parties have no constitutional right to ballot access. Candidates do.

  • (Show?)

    It's not a false dilemma. It was an answer in response to a concern that someone had. After all, M65 is one choice - but it's not the situation we have now. So discussing the situation we're in now and other options is definitely relevant to a discussion on changing our election system. Especially since many people's objection is simply that the two major parties' nomination process is paid for with tax dollars.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    Would all of you staunch defenders of minor parties please tell me the last time a minor party candidate won a non-partisan election? I certainly can't think of any. I know Xander Patterson of the Pacific Greens won two terms on the East Multnomah County Conservation Board and some Libertarians won some school board and water district seats. These are all non-partisan elections, essentially run by the same rules as the "top two" primary proposed in Measure 65.

    So Measure 65 will be the death knell of these minor parties? If so, their demise will probably be overlooked by the vast majority of Oregonians, since only about 5% of all registered voters are affiliated with these minor parties.

    Measure 65 may actually increase registration in minor parties. My political inclinations are probably closer to the Pacific Greens than to mainstream Democrats, but I register Democrat so I can have a voice in who gets elected--particularly in my Southeast Portland legislative district where all the action is in the Democratic primary. It's very possible that a well-organized Pacific Green candidate could make it into the general election in House District 42, as well as a few others in Portland and Eugene.

    I'm thinking the people who run these minor parties would rather play the role of critics and Naderite spoilers, instead of taking on the dirty work of governing the state.

  • (Show?)

    Would all of you staunch defenders of minor parties please tell me the last time a minor party candidate won a non-partisan election?

    I can't speak to what the Greens of the Libs have done, but in this election cycle Independents are doing pretty well in such races. Jim Torrey(I) has a decent shot at being the next mayor of Eugene. Ken Wick and Col. Dale Potter have a pretty good chance of getting elected to Wallowa County Commission.

    The Independent Party is only running candidates in one-on-one legislative races, and we have cross-nominated 5 strong candidates on both sides of the aisle, so I don't think that the Naderite/Spoiler tag can be fairly dropped at our feet.

  • (Show?)

    Steve Rankin,

    Yes, Steve Peace is a corporate-style D in California. He was chair of the state senate committee there that in 1996 authored California's disastrous electricity deregulation statute. He is now a paid political consultant. His involvement with a top-two measure is perfectly understandable.

  • Seth Woolley (unverified)
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    People have to remember that it's not just who wins the election that matters. Elections lead to debate. If the argument in favor of the measure is that the debate has been changed in a way that the proponents think will be good (to the center), then I think it's fair to point out that minor parties will have their voice completely eliminated from the real election.

    Under measure 65, there's a fake election where a non-majority is chosen arbitrarily based on the number of candidates who file to run and end up vote splitting -- the arbitrary criteria is the two highest vote getters.

    Taking the two highest vote getters is actually very bad policy from a mathematical perspective. Approval voting would have been much better at filtering. Instant Runoff or Ranked Choice Voting would have been even better.

    Then rights are taken away to run in the general election and only those two arbitrarily selected candidates are advanced. That's a violation of our right to associate and nominate for the election.

    Also, there was a claim that there's no evidence that third parties are hindered. Of course there is plenty. Louisiana's third parties are essentially dead now and Richard Winger of Ballot Access News did a study and found a less than 0.1% chance of a third party advancing to the general election. The rate goes down for statewide races to 0%. Sample size? 1400. Only once did a third party manage to succeed.

    In the current system, third parties get to influence the general election, forcing major party candidates to adopt parts of their platform that have popular appeal. The system has worked rather well, considering how unfair the current system is for third parties. Under Measure 65, there would be no incentive, in fact, the "spoiler" effect will be there but often times unreadable so the strategy of adopting part of a competitor's platform is more likely to backfire than support a candidate's chance of winning. Many other election methods don't cause the spoiler effect and don't require delayed runoffs.

    Could we at least have picked one of the other methods than top two? That's really the worst method. If they wanted centrists, approval voting will even get you that, but I would prefer IRV/RCV because it's better for proportional representation.

    http://saveoregonsdemocracy.org/

  • rw (unverified)
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    Good to see you here, Seth. Thanks for the commentary and a chance to see inside your head.

    Sincerely, R

  • (Show?)
    k wrote: "Currently 25% of Oregon's voters have no say in who ends up in the final election. Personally, I find that incredibly UN-democratic ... let those 25% who currently have no say in primaries have a voice."

    You misunderstand primary elections.

    A primary exists to allow those involved in political parties the chance to pick their candidates. If the "25%" you mention want to be politically involved, they can do so.

    Far more dangerous, to my eyes, is your scenario: restrict people's right to organize, so those who choose not to get involved can take advantage of their work developing a party, then finding and fielding a group of candidates.

    Why should Republicans pick the Democratic candidate? Why should Democrats pick the Green candidate? Why should Libertarians pick the Republican candidate?

  • (Show?)
    k wrote: "So, the opponents' argument comes down to: 1. We don't have a problem even though 25% of Oregon's voters have NO say in the primary ...

    To be accurate, k, you need to say "25% of Oregon's voters choose to have no say in the primary".

    Your argument in support of the M65 experiment is nothing but: those who do the work getting organized should have no right to choose their candidate.

    The end result of your argument is that no one will bother to organize if they can't choose their own candidates, crippling the large parties and wiping out the small ones.

    Who wins if M65 passes and you get your way? The rich and the media.

  • (Show?)

    A primary exists to allow those involved in political parties the chance to pick their candidates. If the "25%" you mention want to be politically involved, they can do so.

    No. A primary exists to determine who will be on the general election ballot. Under the closed primary system that we have today, you must be a member of a private organization in order to vote for a candidate to make the general election, and even then you are restricted to voting for other members of the same political party, not necessarily for the candidate who is most qualified.

    If I lived in HD20, I would want to vote for Vicki Berger, Ben Westlund, and Kate Brown to represent me on the general election ballot but would not be able to because Berger is not a Democrat.

    If a political party in that district chooses not to support Berger, or Westlund, or whomever, that is their right under M65, and their endorsement will appear on the ballot. But they will not be able to control the process, and they will not be able to arbitrarily restrict my choice to vote for the candidate I believe is most qualified, irrespective of party affiliation.

    And again, opening up Oregon's primary process will mean 150,000 people voting in races in which they are currently not allowed to participate.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Speaking for folks who have not got your acumen, you NEED to remember that an obstacle is an obstacle for the less-informed voter. It is embarrassing that as a young mother in OK with nobody else around like me to even talk to! I arrived at the polls to learn I could not vote. I was not regged in the only two parties with anyone in the primary.

    Many years ago, yes, but still - small town, isolated in my own thoughts and leanings, and not educated enough to know what I had to do to have a voice.

    That took some years.

  • (Show?)

    Your argument in support of the M65 experiment is nothing but: those who do the work getting organized should have no right to choose their candidate.

    Leo, that's a false argument since the Democrats and Republicans would have ther endorsements appear on the ballot, and for every activist in a political party there are another 100 people who don't do anything but vote.

    In fact, Measure 65 will reward partisan activism in a way that our current system doesn't, since candidates will need to bring their supporters into the party process in order t win in the caucuses that are used to determine party endorsements.

    The only thing that changes under M65 is that parties will not be able to control the nominating process, and will not be guaranteed a spot in the finals.

  • sean cruz (unverified)
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    Q. What is the difference between the ballots for most Oregon general election legislative races and those of North Korea and the former Soviet Union and its satellites?

    A. All offer(ed) a choice among single candidates, but Oregon ballots are printed in English.

    Measure 65 offers a means to create two-candidate races, giving all voters an actual choice in general elections, like it or not.

    Some won't like it.

    They can still vote.

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    Governor Kitzhaber is a skilled with political rhetoric, but be continues to promote inaccuracies.

    Trust in government has nothing to do with political primaries. Trust in government declined in the country during the Vietnam War and civil rights movement. There is no evidence that citizens in states with open / blanket primaries (prior to the SCOTUS) ruling them unconstitutional had higher levels of confidence and trust.

    Extensions of the franchise in this country had everything to do with equity and nothing to do with the kind of anti-party spirit that animates this measure, regardless of the Governor's historical revisionism.

    It's admirable that the Governor wants to reform the legislature, but with all due respect, the legislature suffers a lot more from low salaries and a part time status than they do from non competitive general elections.

    The proponents are very concerned with fixing our state legislature. Focus on that issue, then, rather than messing around with an elections system that has worked well for a century and will continue to work well.

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    Sean,

    Many of the single-candidate races on my ballots have been the result of only a single candidate filing. How would M65 alter that? It doesn't force anyone else to file.

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    Paul - That's a false dilemma. The fact that M65 addresses one of the reforms that was recommended by the Public Commission on the Legislature (PCOL) in no way prevents anyone from addressing other reforms recommended by the PCOL, including raising the salary and going to annual sessions.

    Kevin - Most heavily partisan districts have contested primaries and non-contested general elections. Under M65, you are likely to have a run-off between the top-2 vote-getters rather than a contested primary and a non-contested general election.

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    Paul - I do not agree that opening Oregon's primary elections is anti-party. Nothing in M65 prevents parties from organizing, raising money, or establishing their own process for candidate endorsement.

    I doubt that Governor Kitzhaber, Congressman Blumenauer, Vic Atiyeh, nor any of the other endorsers of this measure -- many of whom have contributed thousands to their political parties and raised tens of thousands more would agree that they are "anti-party".

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    The only thing that changes under M65 is that parties will not be able to control the nominating process, and will not be guaranteed a spot in the finals.

    Actually, the party does not "control the nominating process" for the major parties. The process is run by the State, with good reason. I've witnessed the caucus system in action, and it doesn't just invite corruption, it practically demands it. We all have an interest in a nominating process that's clean and involves a valid sample of the membership.

    And anyone can file and run for nomination in the primary. I know of candidates in this coming election who won their nomination without the backing of party leadership.

    The proponents of this measure seem to vacillate regarding the role of parties as a whole and party activists. On the one hand, party membership is meaningless and should be discarded as a way of sorting the nomination process. On the other hand, an "endorsement" by some portion of the party will be somehow equivalent to nomination.

    The basic problem with this measure, aside from the lack of evidence or credible theory to back it up, is that increased choice in the primary is meaningless when it leads to decreased choice in the general where the eventual officeholder is elected. It's not only that the number of candidates advancing to the general would be restricted. It's also that the choice of party is a meaningful one. We should have a chance, in the general, to choose the party of our representative. Except where a party fails to field a candidate, that choice is guaranteed in the current system. It is not in the proposal.

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    The basic problem with this measure, aside from the lack of evidence or credible theory to back it up, is that increased choice in the primary is meaningless when it leads to decreased choice in the general where the eventual officeholder is elected.

    Not at all. A winner-take-all approach in a system dominated by 2 political parties is simply not designed for more than 2 candidates to run in the general election.

    Don't believe me? Ask yourself why so many Democrats hate Ralph Nader.

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    Most heavily partisan districts have contested primaries and non-contested general elections. Under M65, you are likely to have a run-off between the top-2 vote-getters rather than a contested primary and a non-contested general election.

    IOW the General would be like that movie Groundhogs Day by rehashing the Primary.

    In a district so heavily partisan that only one Party even bothers to participate then M65 won't substantively change anything. It'll just force voters who overwhelmingly belong to one Party to make the same basic choice twice, according to your scenario.

    That's a really weak argument for M65 IMHO

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    Sal, You guys just have not made a credible case that the advancing of two candidates based on an unsorted plurality has a better chance of reflecting the will of the people than the two-step process we have now, registration and then nomination. There is solid scholarship saying it does a worse job. Absent a ranked choice system to go with it, what you propose stands a very good chance of thwarting, or at least obscuring, the will of the people. You have provided nothing but your own insistence to back up what you claim.

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    Sure Kev. But only if you assume that there are two and only two candidates in the primary. Otherwise, you have a winnowing as we currently do in the dozens of non-partisan races with a similar format in county and local elections all across the state of Oregon.

    People who oppose this want to pretend that we don't already have similar systems in Oregon and that the sky will fall if we adopt this system, but all it really means is that our election system will look more like Commissioner or Mayoral races in Portland or many other cities and counties.

    The main arguments for the Open Primary do not turn on the intricacies of any particular legislative district, or on gaming the system for or against political parties, but that it opens up the primary elections for Oregon's most important races to every voter in the state in the same way that the primary elections are already open for Mayoral and Commissioner candidates across the state.

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    Well Sal, we largely agree on the problem. On that point I find myself more in agreement with you than with most of your critics here. It's the solution that we don't seem to agree on.

    I just don't see any truly meaningful winnowing under the scenario you posited. Sure, there are often more than two candidates in a primary race. But are all or even most of them viable? Not from what I've seen. Seems to me that most of the time only a couple of them have a meaningful shot at winning. Which is why I don't see M65 substantively changing anything in a heavily partisan district.

    In more evenly divided districts it seems to me that M65 could potentially hand victory to a minority. If one side (with 49% of the registered voters) only has two meaningful candidates who sop up the bulk of the vote and the other side (with 51% of the registered voters) has three or more viable candidates who divide the bulk of the total from their "side" and thus acrue fewer vote totals. The majority would find themselves in the General with no candidates representing their values or issues.

    Seems to me that the major parties would likely turn to some form of Election Whip system to pressure the rank and file to vote a certain way so as to not hand the office to the opposition. And that strikes me as a step backwards to our past rather than as a progressive step forward.

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    Those "similar systems" are used for local boards and councils. It won't look like those because the bodies we are electing to don't look like those. Electing a representative to a local board of 5 or 7 is different from electing to a bicameral Legislature or Congress of 90 or 535.

    And it doesn't matter what the arguments for an Open Primary are, because that's not what we're debating here. Unless your authority is Humpty-Dumpty:

    When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone,it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

  • Richard Winger (unverified)
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    Jesse Ventura was elected as the Reform Party nominee for Governor of Minnesota in November 1998. That is probably the most stunning success of a minor party in any state in the last ten years. Yet in the September 1998 open primary, Jesse Ventura only got 3% of the vote cast for all candidates for Governor. If Minnesota had used I-65, Ventura would have been off the November ballot. Minnesota does not have registration by party and any voter was free, in September 1998, to choose the Reform Party primary ballot.

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    Sal Peralta: Under the closed primary system that we have today, you must be a member of a private organization in order to vote for a candidate to make the general election...

    Sal, candidates don't need votes to "make" the general election. They can "make" the general election simply by filing - and show up as non-affiliated candidates. (This is unlike the jungle primary, which actually does prevent people from running in the general election.)

    What you are really complaining about is the fact that you can't pretend to be a major party member in the general election when the majority of the membership of that major party rejected your candidacy in the primary. (And, thanks to Oregon's sore-loser law, if you file in the primary in one primary, you can't switch to another party if you lose - although you can still run as a non-affiliated candidate).

    Get your facts straight.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve, let's say (to keep names of actual candidates out of it) that John, Paul, George and Ringo run for the same office.

    Under the current system, they choose a party to run in and if, for instance, the first 2 choose one party and the second 2 choose another party (there is a time limit on how long they must have been registered with that party, but it is shorter than 5 years), and one in each party advances to the general election. Under the sore loser law, the primary loser is out of luck. Under that law passed by the legislature, someone not with a 3rd party must collect signatures only from people who don't vote in primaries.

    I am wondering if the opponents of 65 who think the current system is so great are willing to say whether the sore loser law and the law about signatures not coming from voters who vote in primaries should be scrapped.

    Also, if I understand 65, the ballot would say John Paul George Ringo.

    Would the recount law (fraction of 1% gets an automatic recount) still be in place? If Paul and George win the top 2 slots, would John and Ringo be as out of luck as someone who loses a primary under the current system?

    BTW, if someone loses a primary under the current system and then a vacancy for another office opens up because the nominee dies or drops out, the primary loser can compete for that vacancy---that is what happened when Weaver dropped out in the summer of 1986 as Dem. nominee for US Senate. In that case, in the basement of a union hall in Portland, the candidates all made speeches and the state central comm. members voted in that room for the nominee. State Rules Comm. did a great job writing the rules for that process.

    Yes, if people who want a closed process took over the State Central Comm. Rules Committee, there might be an attempt at making the process secret. But no blog would pick up on that and notify all concerned? This is the Information Age, after all.

    The deciding factor in the minds of many at that meeting was that the younger legislator had called every voting delegate and personally asked for their vote. The older legislator (who had lost the Gov. primary partly because of his bullying, abrasive behavior) was described by one person there as "in his lifetime, he had probably alienated everyone in the room".

    I tell this story because so many people are worried that if 65 passes, we will go back to "smoke filled rooms". That 1986 process was very open and the exact opposite of "the fix was in". The people I know who are currently involved in party politics are at least as interested in open public process if not more so. But a magic wand will hit all of them and all future state and other party officials right after 65 passes and make them want to operate in secrecy? Sorry, I don't think so.

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    Sal, candidates don't need votes to "make" the general election. They can "make" the general election simply by filing - and show up as non-affiliated candidates.

    Filing is not a simple process for non-affiliated candidates under the current rules. They cannot simply just pay a fee as major party candidates do to get into the primary, and the rules put into place in 2005 ensure that they will need approximately 2x the number of signatures than would be needed if they were to file as a member of a major party.

    Of course, this is something of a red herring, since I have repeatedly pointed out that this really isn't about candidates or political parties, it is about giving the 400,000+ people in this state who currently have no say in who will appear on

    Not really sure what point you were trying to make about a candidate "pretending" to be a member of a party.

    Kevin - The key difference in "winnowing" in heavily partisan districts will likely have a significant effect. This is one of the reasons why LT keeps bringing up Vic Backlund, who was defeated by Kim Thatcher in a Republican Primary, but who would likely have beaten here handily in a top-two general election.

    One can contrive any number of hypothetical scenarios to make a point for good or for ill, but I can't help but wonder why opponents of this measure prefer not to use real world examples from any of the county or local elections where similar systems are used? Can anyone point to "gamed" mayoral elections in Portland, Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, or Yamhill Counties, for example?

    In any case, I would not expect a majority of party apparatus types to agree with me. Dan M, Steve B, Steve M, Sue H, Jenni -- basically all of those folks are good and thoughtful people who also happen to be hardcore party activists. Of course they will oppose a system that they believe will weaken the role of political parties in determining electoral outcomes.

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    I don't have any ideological problem with weakening the role of the biggest two political parties. But I remain unconvinced that this measure will help more than it hurts.

    In any case, I left this measure blank on my ballot because I'm also not convinced that it'll hurt more than it will help. So those on both sides can take small comfort in the knowledge that I haven't canceled out anyone's vote.

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    Sue, shall we convince ourselves that some outlier races in Peru, France, Louisiana, or Argentina are somehow damning of a top-two system, but similar races that are run every two years in Portland, Eugene, or Multnomah county are entirely irrelevant?

    The sky did not fall in Washington State. It will not fall in Oregon if this measure passes.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Sal wrote:

    Tom, why should I have to join a political party in order to have a say in who appears on the general election ballot? As I understand it, parties have no constitutional right to ballot access. Candidates do.

    I don't believe you should, Sal. Dan Meek mentioned a way unaffiliated voters can have a say, but I realize that is not completely satisfying. Perhaps unaffiliated candidates should have access to the primary ballot. This could be done without doing away with party control over selection of their candidates, as does M65.

    As to the rights of parties, they are voluntary associations of citizens in the political realm, just as labor unions are voluntary associations of workers in the economic realm. Parties should have rights because their voter members have rights.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    Sal (and everyone else): What I meant to ask was, "When was the last time a minor party candidate won a partisan election in Oregon? In my knowledge of Oregon history, I don't think it ever has been done, although several candidates unaffiliated with any party have won elections, including governor.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    Seth wrote: Under measure 65, there's a fake election where a non-majority is chosen arbitrarily based on the number of candidates who file to run and end up vote splitting -- the arbitrary criteria is the two highest vote getters.

    Does anyone understand this argument? Why is it a "fake" election? How does requiring a run-off of the two highest vote getters in the general election become an "arbitrary criteria?" After all, with only two candidates, one will win a majority.

    Frequently, the winners of a party primary do not get a majority of the votes cast. In District 42, Jules Kopel-Bailey won with 40%. And he has no opposition in the general election. Under the top-two primary system, he would have to take on the runner-up in the election.

    Are elections for city council and mayor fake?

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    WTF? I didn't intend any of the words after "partisan" to come out bold. I'm certain I put a /b in brackets after "partisan."

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    We should expect more rationale than "we should do this because the sky will not fall if we do." The sky is not falling now, either. One more time and then I'm done: Where is the evidence that THIS change will make something better, and not worse?

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    When was the last time a minor party candidate won a partisan election in Oregon?

    Gil, it has been more than 100 years. There have been a few non-affiliated state legislators, and a non-affiliated governor, but the closest a minor party came to electing someone was when the People's Party (pseudo)fused with the Democrats in 1890 or so in a gubernatorial race. If you search the threads, Steve Bucknum posted a link a few days ago.

    Having said that, Ben Westlund, Kate Brown, Jeff Merkley, Vicki Berger, and Jim Gilbert have all been cross-nominated by the Independent Party, and all have a decent chance of being elected in this cycle. We may also elect a couple of Independent Commissioners in partisan races in Wallowa County.

    Sue - No amount of new information is going to change your opinion, which has been set about this for months. Why pretend that you are willing to be convinced otherwise?

    Tom - What we have now is a collision of rights. Currently, political parties control the state's nominating process. Under Measure 65, all political parties will still be able to choose what candidates they support, and have that choice printed on the ballot, but they will no longer control the state's nominating process.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Sal wrote:

    Under Measure 65, all political parties will still be able to choose what candidates they support, and have that choice printed on the ballot, but they will no longer control the state's nominating process.

    Parties nominated candidates before the advent of primary elections. Historically speaking, primary elections could be interpreted as the state's usurpation of the political party nominating process. Although I believe the major parties have rigged things against minor parties, I have no problem with any party determining their own candidates. Primaries were introduced as a more democratic and less hierarchical method of doing that. M65 would complete state usurpation of the nominating process, while empowering hierarchical party endorsement processes.

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    Sal keeps trying to compare M 65 with the current system for nonpartisan elections on the Oregon state and local level, claiming that, since there is no "gaming" in nonpartisan elections, there will be no "gaming" in partisan elections under M 65.

    This makes no sense. Under M 65, it may well be a very effective strategy for the R Party to recruit persons to run in the primary as Ds, merely to split up the D vote and make it more likely that one or even two Rs will advance to the general election. The reason this gaming will work is because party label on the ballot is the single most influential piece of information to most voters. This has been proven many times by research.

    The reason there is no such gaming in nonpartisan elections is because there are zero party labels on the ballot. Adding a new candidate does not necessarily draw away votes from your opponent, because adding a new candidate does not allow that new candidate to masquerade as somehow connected to your opponent's party or philosophy.

    Far more comparable are elections in Louisiana since 1975, when the top two system was put in place there. We should expect statewide elections with literally over a dozen candidates on the primary ballot for each office, with maybe 6 Ds, 3 Rs, and some candidates displaying minor party labels, whether or not they have any connection to those parties.

    Also, LT incorrectly states current law. He says, "Under that law passed by the legislature, someone not with a 3rd party must collect signatures only from people who don't vote in primaries." That is not correct. It does not invalidate signatures of anyone who votes in the primary, except Rs and Ds. That is still a very significant restriction and is bad policy. That is why I was one of only 3 people to testify against that bill, HB 2614, in the Legislature. The others were Blair Bobier of the PGP and Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, himself a contributor to this thread.

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    Dear Gil,

    When is the last time that a minor party candidate won any election under a top-two primary?

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    Tom - Measure 65 respects the right of the individual to have the label of the party of which they are a member to appear on the ballot. It respects the right of the party to choose who will represent them on the ballot. It respects the right of the voter to choose from the broadest possible list of candidates in the primary. It also extends the franchise in the primary to nearly a quarter of Oregon voters who currently have no voice.

    I suppose we will have to agree to disagree as to whether those are good things.

    Dan - Can you point to any examples of such gaming in the Washington system? More to the point, what makes you think that some unknown shill for "the other team" would fare any better than any other unknown candidate who currently runs in non-partisan races?

    Does it matter if Pavel Golberman runs as a Democrat, or in a non-partisan race? No. He is going to get 1-2 percent in either case.

    Would Ben Cannon or Jefferson Smith or Chris Edwards or any other Democrat seriously have something to fear by Joe Republican re-registering as a Democrat 70 days before the primary?

    I doubt it. And that's doubly true in statewide races. Kevin Mannix or Bill Sizemore or Ron Saxton could certainly re-register as a Democrat to run in an open primary. They are all well known people. Would they get many votes? Probably not. Neither would someone no one had ever heard of.

    Politics is not just about party labels. It is about people building a campaign to communicate a message to voters.

    But again, this is not about strategizing about who is going to game the system under what hypothetical scenario. This is about extending the franchise to the 400,000 Oregonians who currently have no say in who will appear on the general election ballot in the state's most important races.

    Currently, political parties control the state's nominating process. Under Measure 65, all political parties will still be able to choose what candidates they support, and have that choice printed on the ballot, but they will no longer control the state's nominating process.

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    Dan, I think Jim Torrey has a pretty good shot, having made the top-two in the Eugene Mayoral race.

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    In Texas, where there is no party registration and you choose which ballot you want on election day, we had on multiple occasions problems with Republicans finding people to run on the Democratic ballot. The most famous example from where I lived was when Nick Lampson ran for election to Congress against incumbent Steve Stockman.

    There was a change to the district (a slight change to add more Rs and take away more Ds) after the primary. This meant that the general election was opened back up to all candidates.

    The Republicans got a woman who had run in the Democratic primary to run on the general ballot, and paid all her expenses. They got a second Democrat whose last name was Brooks to also run - and they got him on the ballot as "Jack Brooks." For those who don't know, Jack Brooks was the representative for the district for more than 40 years and was only defeated when he switched his stance on gun control.

    Lampson had to sue in court to ensure that Brooks would not be listed as "Jack Brooks" since that was not his name. That wasted campaign time and resources.

    This election was an open primary, with a top two general following in December.

    Stockman and the Republican Party did everything it could to game the election so they could keep the stronger candidate (Lampson) from making the top two. Had Lampson not been successful in court, that election could have turned out quite different.

    If you don't think that's a big deal, ask the families of missing kids who were helped by the work he did in Congress if they feel the same. Lampson was only on the job a few months when the district was hit by two missing girls, and he went on to be a huge advocate in Congress for resources for helping find missing people.

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    Sue - No amount of new information is going to change your opinion, which has been set about this for months. Why pretend that you are willing to be convinced otherwise?

    Geeze Sal, you have yet to directly address the arguments; you just keep repeating your talking points. No amount of information is going to change your opinion, which has been set about this for years. Why pretend that you are willing to be convinced otherwise?

    And again, your "extend the franchise" stuff is an insult to people who have actually had to fight for the franchise. All somebody has to do to participate in any party's nominating process is to opt in by registering. So we should obliterate the nominating concept because some folks choose not to?

    This is more about change than about improvement. I'm all for change, but I want some evidence that it makes things better. You haven't offered any. When pressed you go for the dodge.

  • RuthAlice (unverified)
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    Count me in the no column on this one. I understand the appeal, I really do. However, I remember the Senate primary in Montana in 1982 when CPAC urged Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary, running tv ads, sending mailers, the works.

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    LT: If Paul and George win the top 2 slots, would John and Ringo be as out of luck as someone who loses a primary under the current system?

    They'd be even more out of luck, because under M65, there is no way to qualify for the general election ballot than to come in first or second in the primary.

    LT: Under the sore loser law, the primary loser is out of luck. [S]omeone not with a 3rd party must collect signatures only from people who don't vote in primaries.

    There's a simple answer to this: if you really are trying to establish an entirely different political doctrine, around which you intend to form a new political party that does not fit within the current two party structure, don't compete in the primary of one of your rivals. Voilla! No impediment to your candidacy.

    Either that, or, you can qualify using signatures from people who did not vote in the primary.

    But let me make it clear. I am not saying the current system is perfect. Fusion voting seems not only the way to go, but I'm at a loss to understand why the Courts think forbidding the practice is not a violation of Free Speech.

    LT: I tell this story because so many people are worried that if 65 passes, we will go back to "smoke filled rooms". That 1986 process was very open and the exact opposite of "the fix was in".

    Never forget, LT. You're talking about Democrats. The good guys. The people who love the underdog to a fault. But there is more than one major political party.

    And even if the decision process gets "blogged", please understand what you just described: a closed process decided by insiders. This is not "fixing" our current system. It's making it worse.

    Do you remember just this spring, when it looked like the DNC Committee members (aka "Supah" Delegates) were going to select the Democratic nominee for President? What M65 does is make that system permanent. We'll get hordes of new "PCPs", none of whom are interested in volunteering for Democratic party activities, but who are just signing up to stuff the ballot box to mark the "true" Democrat in the primary.

    And don't pretend to yourself that Oregonians are better than that. In Washington County we had a number of nominating and ballot replacement conventions, and in every one I attended, there were "PCP" ringers signed up by one or more of the candidates - who we never heard from again.

    Sleaze doesn't have to be secret, LT. In many places around the world, it's practiced right out in the open. Bottom line: if you want to bring Louisiana "Vote for the Crook" style politics to Oregon, vote for M65. If you want our politics to remain clean, vote against it.

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    RuthAlice, please take a closer look -- this is a very different system from the Montana primary. There's no opportunity for that kind of strategic voting. (Of course, like every voting system, there is some possibility of strategic voting...but nothing so unappealing as what you're remembering.)

  • Paul Meyer (unverified)
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    John:

    There are other ways in which one can give "independents" a voice in the primaries better than effectively abolishing established political parties. While I'm not sure what the pros and cons would be, I suspect I would prefer allowing independents the luxury of voting either in a particular party's primary rather than throwing out the parties.
    Under your proposal, one would need a lot of money to mount a state-wide campaign. Now, if a good candidate can get the support of an established political party, he/she had a better chance of raising money for such a campaign. You really need to go back to the drawing board if there is a real problem and I'm not at all sure there is one.

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    Paul,

    The measure does NOT abolish parties. Candidates will have their party labels listed on the ballot. Plus, parties will have the option of endorsing candidates and that endorsement will be listed on the ballot as well. I don't particularly like the provision, but it was an effort to ensure that parties continued to have an active role. Some folks actually believe that this provision (and thus this measure) may actually strengthen parties. Parties are so weak (not to be confused with the interest group funders who lord over the parties) and are virtually irrelevant to most voters now, perhaps this will help re-energize.

    I also guess I'm a little surprised you think our politics is not broken. You have certainly followed the decline since 1990 (M 5) and the lack of mitigating responses to all the ballot measures. The partisan and geographical divides are not overstated here in ORegon and nationally. While having D's in office will surely restore some civility and better discourse, we need to be encouraging people to run for office who have the confidence to challenge the interest groups of both parties to make the necessary changes in our static institutions. (In exchange for more resources we have to be able to convince the public that modern accountability measures are implemented, too). D's are just as guilty as R's for cowtowing to the overlords of their party. M 65 is not a silver bullet, and certainly not perfect, but it at least gives us a chance to create new dynamics where our candidates can challenge party/interest group orthodoxy during their campaigns, and behave a bit more independently while in office. We need some serious innovation right now, and it is going to require creative, confident, and courageous people from both parties to get the job done.

    The many good people who support M 65 (many good D's among us--Sten, Randy Leonard, Schrader, Westlund, Betsy Johnson, Ben Cannon, Sam Adams, Tom Potter, Dan Saltzman to name a few) recognize the imperative to try new approaches. We need to let all the voters vote in the partisan primaries, and the top-two component has great potential to allow candidates to approach issues in untraditional ways.

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    Sal Peralta wrote: "Leo, that's a false argument since the Democrats and Republicans would have ther endorsements appear on the ballot, and for every activist in a political party there are another 100 people who don't do anything but vote."

    I'll see your "false" Sal, and raise you an "unconstitutional" (grin).

    Washington's top-two experiment was declared unconstitutional for violating the right to free association. Not surprising, since it's fundamentally unfair to deny those who do the work to politically organize the right to choose their candidates. Measure 65 would likely meet a similar fate ... after an expensive court fight.

    I just don't get your argument. Politics is not a spectator sport. I mean, sure, I'm glad people send in ballots. But if that's ALL they do, why should they be dictating who will represent those who do the real work: build a party, democratically build a platform and agenda, recruit candidates, and move that agenda forward?

    You're arguing that political passivity should be rewarded. That we should simply trust the rich and wealthy who will buy their way into the top-two every time, instead of trusting average folks working democratically to recruit and choose good candidates (within an organization anyone can get involved with any time they wish).

    If it were hard to get politically active, you might have a point. But, it's not, so you don't. Getting politically active is quite easy. Newly active party members are greeted with open arms, at least in the DPO.

    I just hope voters don't feel like wasting valuable time and money on the Measure 65 experiment, when we're already short on funding for schools and roads, and there are much less suspect and more effective electoral reforms to pursue, such as IRV.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "I just hope voters don't feel like wasting valuable time and money on the Measure 65 experiment"

    Those who have voted Yes may have already wasted their vote. This measure is so confusing to the average voter that this 'experiment' will eventually get challenged in court if passed. If that happens, we will never see it again, it will not get implemented, and those who voted Yes on it will have wasted a vote.

    It is best to just vote No and avoid all the hassels and confusion. If you have already voted Yes, I hope you are ready to defend your choice in the wake of an eventual court challenge.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Chris Beck wrote:

    Parties are so weak (not to be confused with the interest group funders who lord over the parties)....

    Which is why campaign finance reform is the correct answer to most objections to the present electoral system. Special interest money corrupts caucuses and it will find an easier time corrupting candidates who have no party philosophy to serve as a buoy.

    As with physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and economics, predicting how a system will respond is most successful when it is based on the balance of forces at work. Money is the greatest force in our electoral politics. As parties lose control of primary elections, money will act directly upon candidates. The result will be more difficulty in understanding who has purchased which candidates. Since the power of special interests in enhanced when their influence is obscured, they will be the winners under M65. The breakdown of financial support for M65 suggests that business likes it better than labor. Since big business hires the best minds available to analyze such things, I have little doubt that big business would gain the most from M65's success.

    Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money. When we stop following the money, we lose sight of the driving force in politics.

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    Tom,

    I'm a big fan of campaign finance reform, so much so that I think one of the few ways to get there is to have M 65. Under the current system the big groups on both left and right prevent anything meaningful from happening. They hated the contribution limits I ran under in 1996 and have done nothing since them to even talk about a better system. They looooove the current system.

    Yes labor hates M65, though 78% of labor households actually support the idea of our measure. Go figure. Gee, let every voter vote. How novel. As for big business, they like this because they are so dang frustrated with the lack of progess on any of the major issues facing our state. They are willing to try this as one way to get better dialogue on issues. There are plenty of progressive business people who support this too, people who support many of the causes expressed on Blue Oregon. We need to get away from the rhetoric in this state that lumps all businesses into one intractable camp that is against all progressive ideas. Oregon businesses would gleefully support a gas tax to build roads constructed by labor-represented employees. Likewise, they would love to see major new investments in higher ed and support for programs overseen by liberal faculty and the like. Things have deteriorated for so long in Oregon, that many of us, business or otherwise, know we need new structures to improve the decision making processes.

    But again, the core issue, is just one of letting every voter vote for whomever they dang well please. This is a good thing.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Chris Beck: out of curiousity - HAVE to ask, you would not be that Chris Beck of an Oklahoma family line of fame, the one that carried on a feud on the level of Hatfields and McCoys made most entertainingly palatable in that book by McMurtry, "Zeke and Ned"? Those families managed to shoot up the courthouse, kill a few marshals and the judge too... the rivalry still percolates.

    Just gotta know. That's my family line yours was shooting at if so. And it was, of course, all because of a woman.

    Are you of that Indian Territories Beck lineage?

    Thanks for confirming.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Chris Beck wrote:

    As for big business, they like this because they are so dang frustrated with the lack of progress on any of the major issues facing our state.

    We need to get away from the rhetoric in this state that lumps all businesses into one intractable camp that is against all progressive ideas.

    Perhaps if big business would stop impeding progress by supporting candidates and measures that seek to drown government in a bathtub, except, of course, for services provided directly to them - just a thought. Of course there are progressive businesspeople in Oregon and elsewhere. There are, however, no progressive for profit corporations, since they, by law, must act to maximize value for shareholders. In politics this means socializing costs by having the general public pay the taxes and suffer the damage from environmental degradation, economic upheaval, and unsafe products and working conditions. Progressive behavior by corporations is either mandated by regulation or serving a public relations effort.

    More specifically, if big business wanted the roads fixed or higher education well-funded, all they would need to do is support Democrats. Of course, this does not happen because Democrats might insist that big business pay a fair share of the costs incurred, something big business avoids like the plague.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Three words, over and over again: Campaign Finance Reform.

    Repeat after me:....

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    Sal, Jim Torrey is not the candidate of a minor party. He has not been either nominated or endorsed by any minor party.

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    Torrey is also not a non-affiliated candidate in a partisan race. Mayor of Eugene is a nonpartisan contest.

  • Ron Buel (unverified)
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    I am amazed at the theoretical arguments in this very long thread.
    There is not much talk of government's failure in Oregon over the last 30 years or so. The Democrats serve their special interest organizations and the Republicans serve theirs. The big issues -- building and financing a quality education system from k-12 through community colleges and higher ed; health care access and insurance reform; the under-funding of human services; global warming, energy, sustainability, transportation, land-use and the environment; the failure of our state democracy to reflect the public interest -- these issues have not been addressed by Oregon's last four Governors, nor really by the state legislature when it has been in Democratic hands some of the time in the last 30 years. I am not worried about Meek's minor parties nor his "gaming" concerns. I agree with Tom Civiletti that the more important issue is campaign finance reform. Who killed campaign finance reform? Well, the big named contributors were SEIU and the OEA, the same people who are opposing measure 65. There is a parliamentary system where political parties provide real cover for their legislative members, but that is NOT in effect in Oregon. With all due respect to hard-working, devoted people like Sue Hagmeier, Oregon's parties are weak. In Oregon, the money comes from SEIU, the OEA, AFSCME, and the trial lawyers, not from the party. Where are these special interest organizations having the most effect -- in the D primary and in the one-third of the legislative seats (at most) which regularly have contested general elections, and there Democrats are regularly outspent 2-1, not that the D special interest groups care about that, because their control in the primaries of the Democratic Party is enough to maintain their power and the status quo. Some of us have been watching long enough to know that when John Kroger gets $362,000 from SEIU and OEA in a party primary, it is not because those organizations think he is vastly superior to Greg MacPherson. It is a way of visibly punishing Greg for his active position on PERS reform, and a way of warning other aspiring Democrats not to break ranks on issues of importance to the special interests. If the party really made a difference in Oregon, really provided leadership or "cover" on the issues, then polls would not show that an open primary is favored.
    I hate the Republicans, and especially their smearing of the legislature and the legislative candidates with their advertising designed to drag down our whole political system in this state. I hate their religiosity. I hate their cultural warfare. But frankly, I do not see the people we have been electing in our Democratic party primaries in statewide races providing the kind of leadership we need on the state's major problems, its major issues. And, with all due respect to Jeff Merkley, Kate Brown and others, I do not see legislative leadership doing much beyond making the power analysis about where the money comes from, and then acting accordingly in putting together their legislative programs.
    I resist the argument that partisanship is essential to our state's electoral system. If Democratic Governors or legislative leaders started solving our real problems instead of toying around on the margins of them, then I think Sue would have a case about how our party system works and needs to be defended.
    Further, I would agree with Chris Beck and Sal Peralta that many people ARE unknowingly disenfranchised. Show me the percentage of the persons registered NA in this state who really understand where the control is, who really understand how fully they disenfranchise themselves from any meaningful impact with their votes when they do not register as a D or an R.
    Meek, and to a lesser degree, Civiletti, have long ago given up on the existing political process. Meek, at least, would prefer to throw monkey wrenches in our political system, rather than to make it work. In many, ways Dan is a thoughtful advocate for campaign finance reform. But his own analysis of how things don't work today is at odds with his opposition to a measure that will open up the current process. How will it open it up? It will open it up by giving people a vote in the key legislative and statewide races who do not today have a meaningful vote (and I'm not talking about those who in the tiny splinter parties). If things are decided in Eastern Oregon races in the Republican primary, why can't the Democrats who live there help choose a less onerous Republican? Why can't those of us who see big special interest money influencing the outcomes in Democratic primaries insist that our politicians will be harder to control by this money of these special interests if the primary is opened up and the top two in the general contains a renegade or maverick. I would suggest that's why the special interest money on the D side is coming into the primary against ballot measure 65. If, all of a sudden, the SEIU, AFSCME, the OEA and the Trial Lawyers changed their legislative priorities, their electoral priorities, to reflect the public interest, things would be okay. But it isn't going to happen, and it certainly doesn't happen today. Happy are these special interests to play defense against Sizemore, to demonize him, because the status quo has them in power and it distracts their allies. No new initiatives or legislation to solve the state's major problems need be advanced by anyone. We are busy playing defense, and the special interests are busy running things.

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    Dan, I said nothing about party nominations. I have merely pointed out that Jim Torrey is a member of the Independent Party. If he is elected Mayor of Eugene next week, he will be the first Independent to be elected to public office in the party's history. As the race was non-patisan, he did not need to seek the party's nomination.

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    As usual, Ron nails it.

    Not much worth adding, except to say that I don't think it's fair to tar the entire Oregon business community with the Grover Norquist brush. Dan has told me in the past that lining up the business community was a key to the passage of SB408. And it was the leadership of OBA, OBC, and the Electronics Association that allowed the state to seed the corporate kicker in the current biennium.

    Many of the businesses that stepped up on those issues support the open primary, and I believe that there are a significant number in Oregon's business community that recognizes that the legislature has failed for 20+ years to adequately address transportation, higher ed, infrastructure, and trust Phil, Norma, Kitzhaber, Atiyeh, and others who are telling them that what is needed is a structural reform to loosen the grip of the organizations that seem to have a stranglehold on our legislative priorities.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Ah, for a world where my only political opponents were folks like Chris Beck, Sal Peralta and Ron Buel. I think a careful inventory would show that there is little difference in our political worldview, particularly concerning the pernicious effect of special interest political money. We do differ on how we believe M65 would effect the political process.

    Ron's assertion that Dan Meek and I have given up on the political process is curious, given that both of us spend a considerable amount of time and effort on that process. Dan's "monkey wrenching" has included helping to establish a new political party and decades of work protecting the interests of utility company customers. This is in addition to his work on campaign finance reform, which is, by my reckoning, the only path to making democracy function as it should, at least until cosmic enlightenment transforms the species into angelic beings.

    I was considered sufficiently engaged in the "current political process" to be named last year's Democrat of the Year in Clackamas County. I may be critical, but I have not given up. Indeed, it seems to me that folks who support a measure that would disempower political parties to select their own candidates have given up on the current political process.

    What is different is our analysis of what M65 would do to the political process. Ron, Sal, and Chris seem to believe that political parties are the linchpin in the subversion of the political process by special interests. I [and Dan Meek, I think] believe the special interests will find it easier to buy influence under a system that disempowers political parties. I agree with the Portland City Club report which concluded:

    While the committee’s members would support most, if not all, of the proponents’ broader goals, your committee was not persuaded that the proposed reform would measurably achieve its principal aims of increasing voter participation and fairness and reducing excessive partisanship.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    As to the labor/business nexus in electoral politics, Kari Chislom's recent post gets it right. I have disagreed with many union political positions - particularly their asinine opposition to campaign finance reform measures 46 & 47 - but without the money and effort that labor puts into the political process, we would be living in a Grover Norquist wetdream.

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    What is different is our analysis of what M65 would do to the political process. Ron, Sal, and Chris seem to believe that political parties are the linchpin in the subversion of the political process by special interests.

    I wouldn't characterize my position that way. I'd say that by opening up the primary election, voters will be able to select the candidate whose views most closely match their own, irrespective of political party.

    The top-two feature fixes the spoiler problem, and the endorsement line allows parties to retain the right to choose their own nominee without actually controlling the state's process for nominating candidates to the general election ballot.

    For me this is not about some strategy to move policy or to game elections. It is about allowing Oregon's 400,000 non-affiliated voters to participate in the nominating process for the state's most important political offices and allowing all voters to select the best candidates in the primary election, irrespective of political party.

  • RW (unverified)
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    So, aside from motivating nay-sayers and contrariwise talkers like me into Doing Something by dint of your sterling character and stellar thoughts, what have you done in the past couple of years that earned you that honored moniker, Democrat of the Year?

    Go ahead: blow your horn in detail.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Sal wrote:

    ...the endorsement line allows parties to retain the right to choose their own nominee without actually controlling the state's process for nominating candidates to the general election ballot.

    Any person or group can endorse a candidate. Endorsement is NOT nomination. M65 ends political party power to "choose their own nominee."

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    Kari-

    Sorry if this is off topic, but I just got curious on this...

    I wonder if you can get the denizens of BO to do a poll (Y or N) on all the measures to see if any of Jeff's posts on each measure made a difference in someone's vote. Is that possible? I am quite curious as to how we at BO are leaning after all the discussions - especially on 57, 61, and 65.

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    Tom - Again, I think M65 more accurately fixes the rights of all involved. Political parties may continue to choose their candidate. Candidates may have their party affiliation recognized. Voters may choose any candidate irrespective of party affiliation. All voters may participate.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Any person or group can endorse a candidate. Endorsement is NOT nomination. M65 ends political party power to "choose their own nominee."

    OK, folks, here is a real life situation to ponder.

    Some worried about the endorsement process seem to think that at any time a political party would be unified on a nominee.

    In 1992, Bob Packwood was elected to his last (turned out to be partial) term after the US Senate primary ended in a recount. Suppose the ballot had been

    Packwood AuCoin Lonsdale

    Anyone want to speculate who the top 2 would have been?

    Not to mention the 1996 May US Senate primary. Had a Democrat other than Bruggere landed in the top 2, would Gordon have won the general election?

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    Tom, one other point, although it is true that any person or group may endorse a candidate, only political parties will have the right to have their endorsement appear on the ballot if Measure 65 passes.

  • George Seldes (unverified)
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    @ Sal P:

    You wrote:

    The top-two feature fixes the spoiler problem, and the endorsement line allows parties to retain the right to choose their own nominee without actually controlling the state's process for nominating candidates to the general election ballot.

    Fixes the spoiler problem?!?!?! Excuse me? This measure "fixes the spoiler problem" in the same way that limiting habeas corpus fixes the "long drawn out appeals problem" -- by simply discarding fundamental notions of fairness.

    If you are concerned about spoilers then let's get rid of our brain-dead plurality elections that can't handle more than two-candidates without risking electing the one opposed by most voters.

    All M65 does is shift the "spoiling" and vote splitting to the primary elections, where partisans of all varieties will have the opportunity to make mischief by claiming the banner of a party and campaigning not to win but to eliminate the stronger candidates of the target party by, you guessed it, spoiling.

    It's frightening to see the Orwellian (2 + 2 = 5) arguments that M65 proponents are making. Were we not all going to suffer if it passes, I'd be inclined to vote for it just to watch the proponents start saying "How were we to know?" when the predicted consequences start coming home to roost.

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    Bruggere won the Democratic primary, LT. Why do you think he wouldn't have come in the top two in a jungle primary?

    I read you and Ron Buel and Sal Peralta, and all I see is a bunch of people saying to themselves, "If only we had this super magic primary system with fairy sprinkles in some past election, then the voters would have picked the candidate I liked!"

    With not one whit of evidence, or even a hint of logical reasoning, that would lead one to that conclusion.

    The scary thing is, it's nearly certain there's a bunch of whack-job "Constitution Party" voters (who think we should prosecute "abortionists" for murder) voting for this idiotic measure for nearly the exact same reason.

  • T Curtin (unverified)
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    Sorry, independents, you've chosen to not participate in the primaries by not affiliating with any major/minor party, including the Independent Party of Oregon. You made a choice, pure and simple. Two million of your fellow Oregonians have and you still think you should have a say in their nominating process? Hogwash.

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    The Oregonian's editorial page editor, Bob Caldwell, picked up this piece this morning: Kitzhaber gets it right on Oregon Measure 65

    (I posted this in the wrong thread earlier, sorry.)

  • R. Freeman (unverified)
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    The idea of open primaries sounds nice, but it is a terrible idea.

    Why it sounds nice: increased voter participation has a nice ring to it, and allowing everyone to participate also sounds like a good thing.

    Why it's bad: It fixes a problem that doesn't exist. If you want to vote in the Democratic Primary, register as a Democrat and vice versa. Then change your party affiliation after that, as many times as you want.

    A big problem is that if you split the vote among several reasonable candidates, you are increasing the chances of an extreme candidate making it to the general election.

    Also, if you think election campaigns are expensive now, this measure would force candidates to campaign for what is in essence, two general elections, by creating much higher stakes in the primaries.

    This measure is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and fixes a problem that doesn't exist.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I just got an email from someone who was once a legislator and has mentioned caucus pressure to me in the past.

    I know there are people who think the current system is great, caucuses provide a useful function, and how could anyone support a measure which might set up a November race between a major party candidate and a 3rd party or NAV candidate, or maybe 2 people from the state party.

    This is what the former legislator said, "We also need to move away from caucus politics and the intimidation that caucus politics can place on individual members. Perhaps Measure 65 will help trend us in that direction..."

    Now some here may think this person is dead wrong. But given what has happened in recent years during sessions, bad calls by FP and other caucus campaign arms, and the fact that the sun did rise and set every day when the St. Senate was 15-15 and there was no majority caucus, isn't it possible there might be more open public process and progressive legislation if we didn't have some state rep. elections decided in the primary and "my caucus right or wrong" legislative session behavior from one party or the other?

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