Open Primaries: No Better the Second Time Around

Marc Abrams

[NOTE: this is an updated version of a post from 2005, but if the measure can come back to life, so can the commentary!]

Here we go again with another “good government” measure predicated on the idea that partisan politics are by definition harmful. 

Oregon wisely rejected this idea a few years back, yet Phil Keisling and Norma Paulus are back with Measure 65.   

As I originally wrote three years ago, I like Phil, but I don’t like his misguided quest to reduce the partisanship of our state. Phil suggests an open primary, in which anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The top two advance to a run off.

Yes, I was a party chair a long, long time ago in a galaxy right here, but I was a party chair because I believe in the power of organizations, particularly of parties, to shape ideas and hold candidates accountable.

Open primaries serve to increase the power of the moderate, muddled middle. They allow the GOP in Portland to swarm to the Democratic primary and nominate a bland moderate so that liberals lose clout in the legislature, and allow Democrats in some GOP seats to do the reverse. Now Phil, a card carrying DLC member, may like that. I don’t.

What’s wrong with progressive ideas? If you believe in them, why moderate? I’m not saying that you don’t have to bow to reality, count to 16 and 31, and get something done in Salem, but you don’t have to eliminate the sources of great ideas in the process. What this idea says is "I don’t trust my own party members."

There are two ways to win elections. One is to move to the middle. The other is to articulate your ideas with vision, clarity and passion and convince the middle to move to you. I’ve always believed in the latter course.

These ideas will have Democrats beating up on Democrats. That’s what Al From of the DLC long advocated – that he had to rid the Democratic Party of the liberals before he could take on the Republicans.  In a year in which we appear to have nominated the most progressive candidate for President since McGovern — and one who has a chance to become the most progressive President since FDR — perpetuating this internal struggle seems outdated and counter productive.

Open primaries also, by weakening parties, strengthen those players that are not parties, in this case, specifically, the newspaper editorial pages.  Any wonder why the Oregonian so loves this idea?  Why almost every newspaper loves this idea?

This particular measure also is harmful to the basic principles of progressivism and the Democratic Party.  Why?  Two reasons.

First, it raises by a large factor the cost of running for office.  When a candidate has to send each of those 5-7 mailings to every registered voter, not merely the members of their party, it doubles (or more than doubles) the cost of each mailing, and with mail accounting for 50-70% of many campaigns, figure that adds roughly one-third to the cost of legislative races that are already spiraling in cost.  Does that encourage working class or even poorer folks to run for elective office?  It does not.

Second, there’s no “win 50% and avoid a run off” provision.  The absence of such a provision is terrible.  What this means is that in a district in which there is no GOP candidate filed to run (or one so weak they can functionally be ignored), a good Democrat coming out of the primary with 45% may still have to face a person who only got 12% but was the best of a bunch of scattered also-rans.  Then, in November, while we should be concentrating our money on the GOP, we’ll have two Democrats fund-raising against each other.  This takes funds away from where they should be.  Granted that’s how Oregon non-partisan elections work, but that’s only because there is no party nomination to run for. Personally, I’d prefer many of those not be non-partisan.  I also grant that this may also afflict the GOP in some districts, but they seem to be better at clearing their field because, well, they’re not democratic.

With the open primary, supporters say, everyone will have a vote that matters.  It’s not like we’re an exclusive club.  The voter decides to which party they want to belong, or whether they want not to be a member of a party.  It’s a decision they can change any time, again and again.  The complaint boils down to “I don’t want to join your nondiscriminatory club but I want all the benefits.”  To those folks, I respectfully suggest they pick a side…at least for now.

Democrats have no litmus test for registration, and no secret handshake.  But what we — and the Republicans — do have is the right to associate.  Phil Keisling and Norma Paulus want to take this away from you.  They want to make the state of Oregon one big “non-partisan” party, devoid of voices, devoid of passion, devoid of meaningful ideas and opposition. Republicans will be Democrat lite and we will be Republican lite. Does that really help us choose?  Or does it merely create a way for people without bold stands or new ideas to dominate elections. 

Parties mean something.  If Phil and Norma can’t figure that out this year, they are not paying attention.  But I’m worried, because I have seen little organized opposition.  That means we need to be the organized opposition.  Please vote no on Measure 65, and remind everyone else to as well.

Comments

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    Thanks for taking this ballot measure fight on. Measure 65 is at best a solution in search of a problem, but with HUGE negative consequences for campaigns.

    It will definitely make elections more expensive. It will also make them start earlier. It will open up opportunities for gamesmanship that forces the parties to try to "convince" folks not to run.

    Amazing how many otherwise sensible people are supporting 65. I hope voters can see through it.

    Jonathan

  • LT (unverified)
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    OK, I will be the first comment. I live in an area where we are thrilled when there is a Dem. who files in each of the local legislative races, so Democrats beating up on Democrats is not a problem. I've always thought going to every household is a better idea than only going to those registered in one party. I don't think partisan caucuses are the repository of all wisdom, and believe that when Phil, Norma, and Barbara were legislators (long before FP was created) we had a better, more open legislative branch of government.

    I know Phil Keisling and Barbara Roberts and admire them both, but on this one I support Phil.

    And as I was telling a friend, no one wants to talk about the Dist. 25 situation--perhaps because it is real life rather than surmise.

    Kim Thatcher rode the Measure 30 wave into a victory over incumbent Vic Backlund in the Republican primary because he'd had the gall to vote for a tax surcharge to balance the budget. Her victory margin in Marion County was 255 or something like that. She wasn't really R-Keizer so much as CSE-Keizer, with Citizens for a Sound Economy being the group founded by Dick Armey who came to Oregon from Texas to help collect Measure 30 signatures.

    The Democratic nominee was named Pike, and why he didn't get help from Democrats (party or caucus) after Dist. 25 became an open seat was always a puzzle locally.

    As I understand Measure 65, had it been in effect then the voters of District 25 would have seen a primary ballot that said CHOOSE ONE:

    Backlund Thatcher Pike

    I know there are arguments about what might appear after their names, but what does the law say right now about that?

    Someone please explain to me why Measure 65 wouldn't have been helpful in that Dist. 25 situation. All the general election Dist. 25 voters had in that election was unknown Thatcher or unknown Pike. How do we know that if M. 65 had been in effect that Backlund wouldn't have been one of the names on the November ballot?

    Or is that too concrete an example?

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    for those who are not Democrats (or Repoobs), consider this: in how many cases will the Green, or Constitution, or Independence, or any "third" party survive a primary when the two major parties are running? what happens to these parties when they are no longer part of the general election? Dave Brownlow, Constitution Party candidate for Senate, may only pull 5-7% in the general — but he's there! under the open ("jungle") primary, Dave went home in May.

    Oregon needs more than the two major parties. i say this as a devout Democrat. i believe my party is up to the challenge presented by other parties. but Kieling's idiot idea will be the death of those parties. Oregon will truly become a two-party state. what a horribly anti-democratic, non-progressive measure this is.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    In the First Amendment of the US Constitution, the right of free assembly under which political parties have their legitimacy is in the same phrase as "petition the Government for a redress of grievances". The reason for this is that they are the two sides of the same coin.

    When an individual stands in front of his/her government, by themselves, naked of all support - the imbalance of power is manifest. One of the features of our form of government is that we can challenge our government, and organize to do it with others of like mind.

    What Measure 65 does is not to do away with political parties, but rather make them irrelevant. How is that different than doing away with them? Really it isn't. And where does that leave us? Without the real ability for a grass roots effort to stand up to our government.

    What Measure 65 does is to invite the person with the most money to compete against the person with the next most amount of money. Minority Political Parties - forget it. People with little money - forget it. We all effectively become "independents" under Measure 65, because no political party appears on the general election ballot. Therefore we will get the best candidates money can buy.

    And those of us without money to buy candidate will stand alone, and naked in front of the full power of our government without the effective ability to organize to respond.

    If that isn't the worse idea in the history of the Oregon Initiative, I don't know what is. It's easy to say that all the Sizemore, Mannix, & Parks measures are horrible - but this one by people who we thought were our friends is worse.

    It isn't the end of life as we have known it - but it really is the start down that road.

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    Those who pine for the 1970s can watch "That 70s Show" and can wear with pride their Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, and John Lindsay buttons.

    This country has undergone tremendous political changes since the 1970s. These large scale changes have washed across the political landscape and Oregon has not been immune, much as we'd like to think we are.

    One thing that has not changed is the primary system--it somehow successfully elected politicians that people liked in the 1970s but it is somehow failing now.

    Do we see a problem here?

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    LT, to your specific question, under the current law, an individual must be a registered member of a political party for six months prior to claiming a party label on the ballot.

    Under the proposed system, a candidate can declare a "party" 70 days out, the same day they declare their candidacy.

    So essentially, candidates can party shop and party swap right up to the declaration date.

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    Marc, here's the Vote No on 65

    What boils down to me is that the one thing I keep seeing stated in the voters guide and by the interviews I saw on Willamette Week between Phil and Barbara is that there is this claim that better candidates, and as Governor Kitzhaber states, "more independent-minded" people will run for office under this system.

    My problem is that: a) it's a subjective standard. What is an "independent-minded" candidate to Marc, or LT, may not be to me. b) there's nothing in the other two states that have a system similar to this that has produced more independent minded candidates.

    What also troubles me is the lack of ballot access in November, the election that really matters, for third parties. I thought a lot about this measure this year, and I just can't support it.

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    Also I haven't heard why this measure is not affecting the presidential race? Why should we leave the parties to decide the presidential nominee, but let everyone step up to the bar to decide senator, congress, etc?.?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Carl, the procedures for nominating presidential candidates are different---and all tied up in the delegate selection and other party rules which a very few people debate sometimes in between elections.

    And regardless of when someone can declare themselves a member of a party (Kim Thatcher may have been a registered Republican for the requisite amount of time prior to filing for office, but who did she really represent other than the Measure 30 crowd?) this debate seems too theoretical for me.

    Still haven't seen an explanation of why 65 would have been a better situation in the Dist. 25 case mentioned above.

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    Well looking at the numbers from 2004, of the three candidates you listed, Vic Backlund still would have lost had all three of them been on the same ballot (supposing no new voters cast votes) If you just took the three raw results, Backlund got the least.

    Now that's not to say this system couldn't have helped, but clearly who's to say it would have? Vic Backlund had the option that he could have ran as an INDY if he disliked Thatcher's positions. Right now candidates have the option of saying, "hey, my party's been taken over by hooligans and brigands, I'm going to run as an Indy.

    That's one of the big benefits to our system right now, is if you organize, and get people energized you can get on the November ballot without a political party. It's become a lot harder, and that's not a good thing. Right now though, you have the option, unlike the system being sought under Measure 65.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Carl, thanks for answering my question. But looking at the raw result does not tell the whole story. Only registered Republicans could vote for Backlund under the current system, but lots of people afterwards were sorry they couldn't have voted for him. Raw results don't tell how many people would have voted if party registration was not an impediment.

    Once he lost the primary, I think the "sore loser" law prevented him from running in 2004 as an independent, and the next time around it would have been tough for a person without a party to get on the ballot--didn't the legislature pass a law making it tougher than before?

    Here's another question: How many people aren't registered in major parties? Isn't it over 20% now? Don't their taxes pay for running party primaries?

    As far as those who say 3rd party candidates would have no chance, there have been GOP rural districts where sometimes the only competition is 3rd party. Is the same true with Dem. districts in Portland?

  • Ray Duray (unverified)
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    Marc,

    I join you in opposition to Measure 65. What were Keisling and Paulus thinking?

    I first read about so-called "open primaries" several years ago on a national forum similar in content to Blue Oregon. What struck me was the brazenness of GOP members to game the system and be actually quite proud of themselves for using the primary to knock off the strongest candidate to come forward on the Democratic ticket. I have not to date seen the Democrats act in such a Lee Atwaterish dirty tricks fashion.

    So the table is tilted in this matter, as far as I'm concerned.

    I'm surprised that we've gotten this far into the discussion of open primaries and no one has yet mentioned Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" in which Limbaugh quite blatantly encouraged his rabid wingnut listeners to cross over in several "open" state primaries and cast votes for Hillary Clinton after it became more or less a statistical impossibility for her to take the nomination. This sort of interference in an opposing party's primaries ought to be anathema to everyone. Everyone that is except those who aspire to see Karl Rovian shenanigans control our government.

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    yeah, I'm not much of a fan of the sore loser law, and I was not a fan of the tougher restrictions that were placed to get your name on the ballot as an independent candidate that happened, I think in the last regular session.

    There's the chance that this system might have helped, then again just equally the possibility it might have not.

    I'm sure there are probably rural districts where the third party is the only party that challenges one of the major parties.

  • David from Eugene (unverified)
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    I oppose Measure 65; having said that, there is a real problem that does need to be dealt with.

    To explain in rather simplistic terms: Currently the members of the Democratic Party are drawn from slight to the right of center to the extreme left of the political spectrum and the Republicans draw from slightly to the left of center to the extreme right. And the independents (the unaffiliated not the members of that Party of that Name) tend to come out of the center. As typically the candidates from each party as well as the party platforms fall near the center of the party’s political range.

    Which means the candidates are almost twice as far from their opponent as they are from the extreme edge of their party, assuming an even distribution voters across the political spectrum, that means that close to half the voters fall between the candidates position on the political spectrum, and both are at the edge of the comfort zone of the independent voters. And as the number of independent or unaffiliated voters increases party candidates and platforms tend to move closer to the extremes and further out of the comfort zone of over half the voters. At a certain point moderate or centrist voters go from having a choice between two distinctly different candidates to giving them a choice between two unacceptable candidates accelerating the expansion of the independents and accelerating the polarization of the parties.

    Theoretically, the safety valve to this situation is that when there are sufficient unhappy voters in the middle a new third party should appear in the center. For practical reasons, (i.e. gerrymandered districts and the need for a party organization to supply the foot troops and coordination) that situation is not likely to happen. The one possible exception is a charismatic super rich individual who uses his own money to put together a campaign.

    This polarization is not good for the Country and it is not good for our political system. It complicates campaigning as the candidate must first get the approval of the party faithful which requires a platform well to the right or left of center and then if selected reposition themselves closer to the center, since the primary campaigns are conducted in public this repositioning is difficult. As this polarization continues into the legislative arena, reaching the compromise that is key to getting anything done becomes harder and harder. Forcing people to the Initiative System to do what the legislature can’t or would not do. But most importantly it creates an ever increasing number of unhappy and dissatisfied voters, many of whom are transferring their dissatisfaction with the political system to a dissatisfaction with government in general.

    So the question is how do we change the existing system to reverse the polarization and cause the nomination of more moderate candidates?

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    I voted no after reading through quite a bit of stuff on the measure. I wasn't swayed enough to vote for it. That was the one single ballot measure I wasn't sure how I was going to vote until I got my ballot.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome on election day.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    I would be interested to hear what Jack Roberts has to say. Speculation is that people like him might actually have a chance under this new measure, and the extinct moderate Republican might re-emerge again.

    I think the Rs are lost, until they get a soul transplant. They cultivate a rancor and culture of paranoid victimization that is untouchable. Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield would be tarred and feathered and burned at the stake in this present day Republican culture. It's a throw back to the anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual Know-Nothing Party of the 19th century. It has the seeds of an American fascism that might be dangerous if it weren't so delusional and inept.

    Eliminate extreme partisanship, I don't think so. Norma Paulus said it all a couple years back. "There's no one left in the Republican Party I can talk to."

  • mlw (unverified)
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    So, the argument against M65 is that it will make elections less bitterly partisan and empower the broad political middle? This is supposed to trouble me?

    M65 promotes moderate candidates and disempowers political insiders on both sides of the aisle. That's worth voting for, in my view.

    God bless TA, Marc and all the other lefty politicos for all their hard work over the years, but I'm willing to see their influence diminish a bit if it also diminishes the power of the Rovian fruit loops on the other side.

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    I would be interested to hear what Jack Roberts has to say.

    Wow! That's something I didn't expect to read when I got up this morning.

    That fact is that for decades I've opposed efforts to force political parties to open up their nomination process to include nonmembers or to otherwise weaken the party system. My views on this have been similar to those articulated by Marc in the main post.

    This year I've finally decided to vote for Measure 65, not because I have changed my theoretical construct but because I've just become fed up with the current system and think its time to shake things up.

    LT's example of Vic Baclund's ouster is a case of what frustrates me today. Every four years I'm afraid some crazies in Corvallis are going to do the same thing to Frank Morse.

    I don't hold out a lot of hope that, even if enacted, Measure 65 will dramatically change things. I've long suspected most independents don't fail to vote in primaries because they are excluded from participating in partisan primaries; I think it is more likely that they are independent because they don't have that much interest and/or confidence in voting. So the results may not be very different in most cases (witness Gregoire v. Rossi in Washington).

    In the end, my decision to vote for Measure 65 is pragmatic: Is the chance the system will be made better greater than the risk that the system will be made worse?

    In my book the answer is, "Yes."

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    This is a disingenuous post from Marc, who surely understands that Measure 65 does not take away any free association rights from political parties.

    Parties retain the right to endorse the candidates they support on the measure. What it does is prevents them from using taxpayer funds to pay for the nominating process of private organizations. And bear in mind, the only political parties that benefit from the state's largesse are the Democrats and Republicans, not the minor parties.

    TA asks whether any minor parties will be on the November ballot? I'd argue a strong "yes". I'll take bets on the chances of a liberal Independent or a Green against a Republican in inner Portland, or a conservative Independent against a Democrat in Ontario or Pendleton any day of the week.

    TA suggests that political parties won't be able to engage in grassroots activism if this measure passes. Why? Is there a prohibition on canvassing? Maintaining an office? Raising money in support of party activities? No.

    I'd argue that the system will increase organizing opportunities for political parties, and make grassroots activism more important than it is today.

    Under this system, candidates will have an incentive to bring their supporters into the party apparatus as precinct committee persons before the primary so that they can win the party's endorsement. No such incentive currently exists.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    LT writes, "Still haven't seen an explanation of why 65 would have been a better situation in the Dist. 25 case mentioned above."

    That's because you make no sense. You take an isolated incident that nobody knows anything about, and you make it your make or break decider for a Measure that fundamentally and forever changes our relationship to our government. This Measure really doesn't "solve" anything but perceptions people have that are only partly based upon reality.

    At a measures forum over here in Prineville, a woman I otherwise have great respect for supported Measure 65 because, "minority parties don't have fair access to the process now". In other words, her rational for this Measure is that we should take down the "big" parties that somehow are unfair to the minor parties - and that will fix things. Which of course, it doesn't. This Measure kills minority parties.

    As I stated in my first post here, this Measure goes way beyond whatever people think it will solve, and leaves the party process behind - leaving us all "independents", naked and alone before the power and might of our government.

    Not since King George ruled the colonies have we seen such a situation - where forming groups to advocate for our shared and mutual interests will become irrelevant.

    LT - your "test" in nonsense.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    Reading all the comments to this point on the key issues of the measure confuses me and the points even more. It looks like it will create mountains out of molehills on several sides.

    It's best just to say NO and then we do not have to worry about all the problems.

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    In my view, this measure will strengthen minor political parties and the Democratic process, especially in areas like Prineville, where the district is heavily tilted towards the Republicans, and where the Democratic Party has trouble recruiting candidates. As often as not, in a district like that, the general election is uncontested, and even when it is contested, it is usually not really a contest.

    By creating a fairer elections calendar, the Independent Party or others can recruit credible candidates and guarantee those candidates a one-on-one race in November. Moreover, all political parties can endorse candidates and have those endorsements appear on the primary ballot -- that's an unprecedented level of access for minor parties in Oregon.

    This business about "leaving the individual naked before government" is asinine. As I suggested before, this measure creates grassroots organizing opportunities for parties, and nothing about it prevents fundraising or other party activities.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    @ Jack Roberts- "Is the chance the system will be made better greater than the risk that the system will be made worse?In my book the answer is, "Yes." "

    <hr/>

    Thanks for your take on this measure. A roll of the dice, contrary to previous thinking..... Not a convincing argument for me. Especially given that we have some empirical evidence in the state of WA.

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    One thing that has not changed is the primary system--it somehow successfully elected politicians that people liked in the 1970s but it is somehow failing now.

    Paul, is this true? Do you have data that support this? There's a phenomenon of looking back at popular politicians and assuming they had wide support during elections. Oregon produced a phenomenal crop of leaders in the 70s, but did people like them during elections?

    Even if they did, I find a causal relationship less convincing. So much has changed between the two periods that to find correlations isn't enough (sample sizes rarely support careful study, either). Lots has changed.

    I'm a pretty strong anti-party guy philosophically (though under the current system I am a reliable and loyal Dem); I would love to see several viable parties emerge that would represent a variety of political philosophies. Measure 65 seems guaranteed to prevent that.

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    I would much rather see IRV or Approval voting. Both are far better than this measure.

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    Paul is simply wrong when he asserts that the primary election system in legislative races has not changed in Oregon since the 1970's.

    One major structural change is that legislative elections changed to single-member districts, which carved up smaller districts, that are much more susceptible to partisan gerrymandering than was the case in the 1970's. Today, one can make a strong case that 50 out of 60 legislative districts reward hyper-partisanship -- a much higher number than was the case under the dual-member representation.

    Additionally, the science of campaigns has become much more sophisticated, and the campaigns themselves are significantly more targeted than was the case in the 1970's.

    The "problem" of a system that encourages candidates to speak to more voters, rather than just turning out a small, hyper-partisan niche in the primary, is not a problem at all. It's a solution to political campaigns that win by slicing and dicing the electorate and segmenting and widening cleavages within the electorate.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    I can understand why the Democratic party smoke-filled-room-gang is opposed to this measure. They take shameless advantage of the fact that the Republican primary base has gone off its conservative rocker, and puts forward inadequate and extreme candidates for statewide office. The Democrats then clean up. In addition, the Democrats can foist more extreme candidates on us, confident that the Republicans will put up an even bigger loser to the disgust of the general electorate.

    I can understand why the Republican party smoke-filled-room-gang is opposed to this measure. They are deluded true believers who would rather be right than successful, and believe that, with some more convincing, the majority of Oregonians will come around to their extreme views. Unlike the Democrats, they are deluded.

    But as for Oregon - it is important that we have a functioning electoral system that provides two reasonable and viable choices for our public offices. The current system does not provide these choices.

    Yes, we may occasionally get a David Duke who sneaks into a runoff election. But that is the anomaly, not the norm.

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    The answer to the gerrymandering problem is a non-partisan electoral commission to set district boundaries.

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    Jeff, thanks for calling paul on his unsupported assertion that we're failing to nominate candidates we like. i look around the state and see the Dems nominating all kinds of excellent people — people supported by active Dems and non-politicals alike.

    and Sal, while in some areas like inner-Pdx or Corvallis, where one-party domination is not about Tammany Hall-style politics but a large majority of voters favoring one party, these areas are pretty much the exception. all it takes for the Repubs (in SE Pdx, for example) to shut out the Greens is to stand a candidate; the party-affiliation will be enough to grab second place. we might see 2 or 3 Greens or Constitutionals break thru each cycle, but their parties will be, as state-wide entities, pretty much shot to hell.

    here's a long, very interesting post from "Green Party Watch" that indicates the Green Party opposes M65 for many of the reasons stated in this thread. it includes a long analysis from Seth Woolley, Secretary and Elections Administrator of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon and its nominee for Secretary of State; ultimately he not only states the Greens oppose M65 but, as Carl pointed out (and i've written about for several years now), the way we increase voter choice while allowing the parties to run their own affairs is Instant Runoff Voting along with voter-owned elections. i hope the new Oregon Leg will consider these reforms in 2009; it's up to those who want to see real electoral reform to push them to do so.

    but first the voters need to be smart enough to tell Keisling his idea has, to paraphrase Peter Sellers, only one flaw: "It's stupid."

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    There is a difference between partisan polarization (nasty elections, unwillingness to cooperate because seen to be to partisan advantage) and ideological or policy polarization.

    IMO a general problem with our electoral system, not just at the state level, is that our spectrum of ideas and policies is too narrow, not that it's characterized by the dominance of extremes. Basically you could put about 80% of the U.S. effective political spectrum within one European Christian Democratic party, with maybe 5% outliers to the right and 15% to the left.

    Because of the dominance of center-right orthodoxy, we get nasty campaigns that focus on personalities or rely on lies and smears, the consequence of the narcissism of small differences.

    The idea that things were closer and clustered more in the center in the past in terms of ideas just isn't so.

    It's possible that the current crises will open things up again.

    (BTW, on Jeff A.'s point about nostalgia for the '70s, a sort of inverse example of what he means might be Neil Goldschmidt.)

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    LT, you begin your reasoning by dismissing more common cases than yours because they aren't your particular case, and in effect asserting that it's the only case that matters. You're perfectly free to vote based on what you think would be good for your district. But if I reason the same way, your district is irrelevant to mine, so why should I pay any attention to it, or your demand that I address it? By beginning the way you do, you make it seem pointless to talk with you or reason about the common good.

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    and Sal, you talk about the sophisticated science of political campaigning. yet you give no basis for believing the jungle primary will solve that. we pass M65 and the campaign pros throw up their hands and leave the state? we pass M65 and the lobbyists and Loren Parks and pacs all close their bank accounts? we pass M65 and the 95% of people who pay no attention to political matters 95% of the time suddenly turn off "Amercan Idol" and start watching C-SPAN?

    you make some decent points on the problems — gerrymandering is a very bad, anti-democratic process, no matter who is in charge of it — but M65 fixes that by magically electing people who will have no interest but the publics? how does M65 change human nature, Sal?

    at root, the differences between parties is about policy. we lose track of that because of the way we run too many campaigns thru the media, but the Ds & Rs have real policy-based differences — unions, public education, a woman's right to choose, civil liberties, militarism, corporatism, and so much more. these differences are not going to go away. let's pretend M65 passes & we elect a "non-partisan" Leg. does the magic of M65 mean those who hate taxes and those who see them as a means to enable government to act do the Kumbayah thing? presumably a post-M65 Oregon will still have a majority of people who oppose "gay marriage" and a majority that supports a woman's right to choose. do the minorities relinquish their opposition and give up their fight to change law?

    that's what partisanship is at root. it's not about promoting a party over the public interest; that's just the methodology. i can promise you this: those of us active in the Multnomah Democratic Party are busting our butts to elect Ds (and we feel zero sympathy for the whupping the Rs look about to receive) but the candidates we are working for are people we feel represent what is best about Oregon and their communities. Nick Kahl and Greg Matthews will be excellent state reps for East Multnomah County. Barack Obama will be a great president for the nation. Jeff Merkley will be a great Senator for Oregon. call that partisan if you must, but we are dedicated to the qualities these candidates bring to their races and to the party.

    Greg Macpherson lost because too many Dems saw him lacking the qualities needed by a leader of the party; John Kroger was seen as possessing them and he won a deserved upset. (the Rs agreed and also nominated him.) M65 is not going to get rid of the bullshit from elections; that will be with us until human beings lose every reason to disagree with one another (no, we eat our toast with the butter side up!). M65 is the political equivalent of walking into a race riot with your eyes closed and demanding that everyone now looks the same & should get along. it's not a solution and will only make things far worse.

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    At this point I'm leaning no, because it seems most likely that either the change won't make much difference, or that it will make things worse for things I care about.

    The main reason for thinking it won't change much is that I don't think it will affect the advantages of incumbency or the districting process.

    Things it could make worse are decreasing the importance of organizations and deliberations within them still further, increasing the importance of big money recruited on an individual basis, and increasing the importance of short-form, low-content mass media in swaying the opinions of even more atomized individuals.

    Sal makes some case that my fears about decreasing the importance of organizations could be wrong -- that it might increase incentives to organize. If it passes I guess I'll have to see what I can do to test that. But on balance the chances look greater to me that he's wrong than right.

    I think this will increase the importance of the money-mass media nexus and decrease the accountability of both the money and the candidates to deliberative, deliberating constituencies.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve B., all due respect, but Marion County DOES know a lot about Vic Backlund. He also happens to be a friend of mine and someone who once helped me as a state rep. having a problem with a state agency when my own Republican state rep. couldn't be bothered. You may not have known about it over there, but he was the last of any semblence of moderate, common sense Republican (no, Vicki Berger likes to put herself in that category, but she no more fits that label than Gordon Smith does).

    I like what Sal said, and Bill R, and Posted by: David from Eugene | Oct 15, 2008 1:54:41 AM

    Jack Roberts, I love what you said. It is my considered opinion that no Republican will be elected Gov. until there is a nominee of equal quality to Vic Atiyeh, and right now I see no one in that category other than Frank Morse.

    As for Independents, they are just that! The are NOT a bloc. Yes, scholars surmise they are not interested in politics, but that is not always true. NAV are as likely these days to be fed up as uninterested. Like the married couple I know---he was from a Republican family, had written in Jesse Jackson on the 1984 presidential primary ballot because he wasn't a Reaganite. She was a registered Democrat. They got fed up with partisan politics and then both registered NAV. Then he got inspired by Kerry. After the GOP convention that he called a "slanderfest", he re-registered Democrat. That doesn't mean he took an active part in the 2008 primary or got involved in party politics.

    I've been a national convention delegate, a member of the Dem. State Central Comm., active in campaigns for decades. One of my friends was a county, district, state party officer. We both got fed up about the time volunteers were told in the 1990s that grass roots volunteers were less important than money and "political professionals". She totally dropped out and used her spare time elsewhere. I still do some volunteering. But from late May (right after the primary) 1996 until March 2002, I was registered NAV. If you think I was apathetic during the years I was registered NAV and then became more interested in politics in 2002, you don't know me.

    There really is a disconnect between people working for partisan organizations who throw around terms like "that district has a lousy R to D ratio" and the ordinary person who is not active in politics. Look at legislative results and the number of those registered outside major parties. If memory serves, the votes of those registered outside major parties have determined who won the House majority in more recent elections than many people would like to admit. In one local 2006 election, an underfunded state rep. candidate who "didn't have a chance in the world against an entrenched incumbent" knocked that incumbent down to something like a margin = to half the number of nonaffiliated voters.

    How many people commenting here know anyone who is or has ever been registered NAV? How many know any swing voters (Bush & Hooley 2004, voting Kitzhaber for Gov. but Gordon Smith for US Senate, etc.)? If you only know people of your own party registration, you need to get out more.

    Carl, Barbara Roberts made a presentation to the Public Comm. on the Legislature (very diverse group) on IRV and Phil & Norma presented their views on what became Measure 65 among other things.

    PCOL went with Phil and Norma's ideas.

    You folks who support IRV need to start building grass roots support. Go to party meetings, civic or other organizations. Build a grass roots movement for it. How many county clerks support this idea? If not, why not? Get it presented to the legislature or put it on the ballot in 2010. But "IRV would be better--end of discussion" is not going to win over the popular support you would need for that drastic a change.

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    Because of the dominance of center-right orthodoxy, we get nasty campaigns that focus on personalities or rely on lies and smears, the consequence of the narcissism of small differences.

    This is exactly right. I would add one further note to your description, Chris. While I agree with your general equation of 80%, 15%, 5%, this seems largely the result of a self-fulfilling cycle. All issues are framed within that 80% window, so voters tend to live there, too. But periodically, we have intimations of what might be if there were other parties to expand the discussion.

    I'm not sure that there's a large majority in the US who want single-payer health care, but there's a large plurality at the very least (if not an outright majority). But this proposal doesn't fit within the 80% window, so it's not politically viable.

    Would M65 create the circumstances where the discussion grows or shrinks? Keisling says it will expand the discussion, but I have my strong doubts. My solution would involve weakening institutional power of the parties. (A proposal less likely to come about than other faves of the lefty 15%, like single-payer healthcare, free advertising for political elections, a robust public news station akin to the Beeb, etc.)

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    TA - Marc cites the fact that folks like him won't be able to target a small portion of the electorate in the primary as a reason to vote against M65. I take him at his word, but simply point out that this kind of targeting contributes to the polarization we are experiencing, so less of it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I do not claim that M65 will magically cure anything, but it seems very clear that under an Open Primary system, primary results in legislative races and the subsequent general election ballot will more accurately reflect the values of a given legislative district than is currently the case. Not only does it eliminate so-called "spoilers", it does not artificially prop up major parties in districts where they may be too weak to stand on their own.

    Minor political parties that actually care about winning will benefit significantly from the opportunity to go head-to-head with major parties in districts that are currently considered "unwinnable", and voters will benefit from having an honest choice that accurately reflects the values of the district.

    Take Chip Shields' legislative district. There are 28,000 Democrats and 2,500 Republicans. In what sense is the public interest served by guaranteeing a spot for a Republican, as opposed to two Democrats, or a Democrat and a Green?

    I disagree, by the way, that Republicans will be able to shut greens out in such districts. There are more Republicans than Greens in San Francisco, yet it was a Green, Matt Gonzales, who made the final round in their IRV elections a few years back.

    As to Chris' point about progressive reforms: I'd argue that most truly progressive reforms tend to be the ones that take into consideration the needs of multiple constituencies rather than just the interests that dominate the debate on one side or the other.

    Does a discussion about universal health benefit from a debate among people who were primarily elected to represent labor, or do representatives who serve primarily employers have a constructive role to play?

    When Oregon passed the bottle bill and state beaches, these were some of the most progressive reforms in the country, but they were the product of bi-partisanship and consensus, and not the product of one-side ignoring the other.

    This measure is not a magic bullet, but it will help to foster true bi-partisanship by creating a primary system that rewards candidates who have a broader appeal than those who merely the partisan base on one side or the other.

    At the end of the day, where you stand on this issue will depend on whether or not you believe that political parties should have absolute control over who appears on the general election ballot, or whether they should merely play an important, and not a dominant role in our elections.

    I believe that political primaries are paid for by all Oregon taxpayers, not just Democrats and Republicans. There are 400,000 people in this state who have no voice in who will appear on the general election ballot, and 6 political parties that receive no public funding for their nominating process.

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    Jeff, my sentence was a rhetorical one. You got my point correctly--it is the political system nationally that has changed and that accounts for party polarization, not the primary system.

    Keep in mind, by the way, that the proponents constantly claim party extremism but refuse to identify what extremists they have problems with. Ted Kulongoski? John Kitzhaber? Bill Bradbury? Hardy Myers? David Wu? Darlene Hooley?

    No, this is all about the state legislature for them, and Chris Lowe is correct, we have a known solution for that problem--institute a non-partisan redistricting commission.

    What has frustrated me about this debate is the reliance of the proponents on myths, anecdotes, or outright falsehoods. They claim that this measure will fix party polarization, legislative gridlock, youth turnout, mistrust of government--what problem WON'T this solve??

    Sal claims without evidence that this will strengthen third parties, but facts matter: in Washington State the number of third parties on the ballot declined from 27 in 2004 to 5 in 2008. Zero third parties have been on the final ballot since Louisiana adopted this system.

    Sal claims without evidence that this system forces candidate to speak to "all the voters" but fact matter: this system as it has historically operated results in multiple candidates clogging the middle and candidates slicing up the electorate into small bits of extreme, intensely committed supporters.

    It's NOT just the David Duke example, there are multiple examples of this happening in LA, where candidates move onto the general with less than 15% of the vote; and in France; and in Peru; and in many presidential systems that use a "top two" primary.

    There are other proposals that solve the problem of polarization: multimember districts and non partisan redistricting commissions.

    There is another system that maintains the free association rights of parties AND allows non-affiliated participation: The "Montana" primary.

    The top two is currently under litigation--the 9th Circuit is currently collecting evidence. Read Thomas's SC opinion. He said the top two failed a "facial" challenge in Washington, and that they needed more evidence before they could overturn it.

    Why spend all this time and energy on a primary system that is currently used by JUST ONE STATE (Louisiana has had the wisdom to eliminate this system for federal elections) and is of questionable constitutionality, when we have tried and true solutions that address the problems identified by the proponents?

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    At the end of the day, where you stand on this issue will depend on whether or not you believe that political parties should have absolute control over who appears on the general election ballot, or whether they should merely play an important, and not a dominant role in our elections.

    Sal, this is utterly misleading.

    The party primaries are open to anyone who is a registered member of the party (the parties don't control who registers) and who can pay the filing fee or collect signatures.

    At least this exposes what this measure is all about--the proponents are anti political party. Just making sure that is out there, since Phil routinely denies he is anti party.

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    Jeff, you're right about the self-fulfilling or self-reproducing quality of the distribution of votes and debates, linked partly to a feedback relationship with the way mass media function these days, IMO. Thanks for putting it so clearly.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Sal writes, "In my view, this measure will strengthen minor political parties and the Democratic process, especially in areas like Prineville, where the district is heavily tilted towards the Republicans, and where the Democratic Party has trouble recruiting candidates. As often as not, in a district like that, the general election is uncontested, and even when it is contested, it is usually not really a contest."

    Hello Sal, long time no argue.

    First off, in case you haven't noted, Crook Co. is no longer so tilted "heavily" to Republicans. We've done some catching up. Democrats are about 1,700 registered voters behind the Republicants - in a County with a population of about 26,000.

    There are now enough Democrats that we generally have one in every race at the general election, and in most primary elections have a choice even at that level. The exception is our State Representative and Senate Districts, which are far larger than our County. Due to the complete lack of support for these candidates by our Party at the State level, we just haven't had any for four years now. But locally, we run strong. In this years elections for our County government positions, if you look back at the primary, both the top Democrat and the top Republicant would have ended up running against each other in the general election even if it were an open primary. M65 would not have changed a thing.

    But your argument is about the lop-sided areas where one party dominates the election process so much that that parties' primary election would take the top two finishers to the general election. Hmmm, that would in the long run insure one party domination wouldn't it? How would a second party ever incrementally work up to being able to get to the point of having a top two finisher? It often takes losing three or four times - with the choice becoming slowly evident to voters - before a district switches from one party candidate to another. What you suggest in fact becomes a way to insure that incumbents have an extra edge, as they could run their own opposition candidate in these sorts of districts at the primary level.

    And you argue regarding the minority party candidates" "By creating a fairer elections calendar, the Independent Party or others can recruit credible candidates and guarantee those candidates a one-on-one race in November."

    Excuse me, "guarantee?" If the Democrats and Republicants, the States two largest parties can't "guarantee" someone a place on the ballot, how in an open primary could an Independent Party? In reality, there is no path here for the minority parties. It would only be in rare circumstances that the minority parties would have a second place finisher who would end up on the general ballot, when now if there is such a minor party candidate, they are in fact really guaranteed a place in the general election.

    Since when did two choices end up being more than three or four choices.

    Sal, each section of your arguments fall apart when looked at closely. I have looked at two parts of many, and they just don't work.

    But these are all side arguments to the core of this issue. Measure 65 is the pathway to making political parties irrelevant, and making finding money even more relevant to the political process.

    If one likes corporations running politics, then you'd love Measure 65. Give it 10 to 20 years, and we'll truly end up with the best government money can buy, with the political parties pushed way to the side of this process. There will be no effective (or even ineffective) organized watch dog mechanism for any number of aspects of the election process - as currently this is one of many roles of political parties.

    Once government is clearly and without challenge bought and paid for by the corporations, which I see Measure 65 facilitating, then where are we?

    Standing alone and naked in front of the power of our government. Not a pretty picture. Political parties are a solution to a problem, and while Measure 65 does not in any way do away with them, it just makes them a whole lot less relevant to the election process. Undermining democratic processes is never a good thing from my standpoint.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    LT writes, "Steve B., all due respect, but Marion County DOES know a lot about Vic Backlund. He also happens to be a friend of mine and someone who once helped me as a state rep. having a problem with a state agency when my own Republican state rep. couldn't be bothered. You may not have known about it over there, but he was the last of any semblence of moderate, common sense Republican (no, Vicki Berger likes to put herself in that category, but she no more fits that label than Gordon Smith does)."

    LT, there you go changing the playing field in the middle of the game. You had written, "Someone please explain to me why Measure 65 wouldn't have been helpful in that Dist. 25 situation." The answer for the rest of us in a 36 County State measuring the better part of 100,000 square miles is that you have some inside information that we don't have.

    So, your question is nonsense. Vic is a friend of yours. Should I know Vic because he's your friend? Of course not. Should I know the particulars of a District that's 150 miles over that-a-way? Of course not.

    So, what the heck is the point you are arguing, without the references that nobody without your inside knowledge can follow? Are you saying that a three person race would have been more fair in an open primary? Others have looked at that data in that race here on Blue O, and have shown that you are wrong.

    What is your point? and please, please, stop with the name dropping and old history. I'd really like to understand how you think this so-called open primary (it really should be labeled "the measure to reduce options to two general election candidates") would improve ANYTHING. Exactly what would be improved and how?

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    Paul, I don't think anyone can make a credible claim that I am now, or have ever been, anti-party. I have served as chair of a county Democratic party having run offices for that party in 2 election cycles, and currently serve as Secretary for the state's third-largest political party.

    What I object to is a primary system that is controlled by political parties, and particularly one where all taxpayers are being asked to bear the cost, but in which 25 percent of them receive no direct benefit.

    Political parties will continue to function and remain powerful institutional players under an Open Primary system, but they will not control the process as they do now.

    I take issue with the assertion that I "claim this will force candidates to speak with all voters". That's Marc Abrams claim, when he asserts that the open primary will drive up costs by forcing candidates to mail to every voter. I am merely taking him at his word.

    I can't speak to the experiences in Argentina or Chile, nor do I care what you believe such de-contextualized examples from these very different systems with different historical and social contexts says about elections right here in Oregon. I am reminded of the fact that you have used similar examples to argue that night is day and black is white with regard to Oregon's vote by mail system.

    One thing I can say very clearly is that if the Open Primary were in operation in Oregon today, it would increase the Independent Party's access to the ballot.

    Jeff Merkley, Kate Brown, Ben Westlund, Vicki Berger, and others would appear on the ballot as registered Democrats or Republicans, and our endorsements of those candidates would appear on the primary and general election ballots. I don't need to look at Argentina or Louisiana to know that here in Oregon, in every legislative district and partisan commission race where we are currently running a candidate it would enhance the party's prospects by moving the elections calendar forward and guaranteeing our candidates a one-on-one general election.

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    If the Democrats and Republicants, the States two largest parties can't "guarantee" someone a place on the ballot, how in an open primary could an Independent Party?

    44 percent of legislative districts, including more than half of all Senate races, are non-contested during the current election cycle yet we cannot guarantee a one-on-one race in such districts until mid-June or later, since that is when the primary election results are certified and the SOS reports the result of the write-in vote.

    Under an Open Primary, we can tell people that they will be guaranteed a one-on-one race if they can win in the primary. That overcomes the #1 obstacle for people who want to run as an Independent and win - the prospect of running as a third wheel in a two party system.

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    Measure 65 is a truly flawed measure and will often present voters with very bad or no choices. Below is an excerpt of an article I wrote for the weekly newspapers in my district:

    "Here are a few examples of seriously undemocratic outcomes that will result under Measure 65:

    "Measure 65 promotes manipulation in the primary. Voters in safe Republican districts or safe Democratic districts might face a choice in the General Election with no member of the dominant party. Persuade enough members of the dominant party to run in the primary, split the primary vote, and two non-dominant party members running could win. Voters could only choose from those two in the General Election. This reality opens the opportunity to manipulation by insiders and big-money-players who will try to set up chances to steal an office. This and similar scams are why Louisiana recently limited its use of this type of primary. Louisiana once faced a choice between a racist and a crook in the general election for governor because the moderate and honest candidates split the centrist vote in the low-turnout primary.

    "Another problem will happen in unexpected and grossly unfair ways. Let us suppose that a popular Democratic legislator in a Democratic district “wins” the primary and the two Republican candidates get the second and third most votes so that the Democratic incumbent moves on to the General Election along with one of the Republicans. Now suppose, as has happened many times, that the popular incumbent dies in office, moves, resigns. Under our current law, the precinct committee persons (PCP) from the Democratic Party in the district get together and nominate a replacement. Voters can vote for someone who is likely to be in general agreement on the big issues of the day, the candidate nominated in the PCP convention. How does Measure 65 handle that example? The candidate with the third most votes moves up! Now the election is between the two Republican candidates without a Democrat! How fair and “open” would that appear to the Democrats in the district? In the opposite case, how would Republicans feel about an election in which, by chance, only Democrats names appeared on their ballot? The majority will not be represented.

    "What about the possibilities between elections? Representatives and Senators do resign mid-term for a host of reasons. This year, the newly appointed Labor Commissioner, Brad Avakian, resigned his Senate seat and was replaced by Representative Bonamici who was in turn replaced by Chris Harker all moderate to liberal Democrats as are the majority of voters in their districts. Under the current law, the county commissioners in the affected district choose a new legislator from a list of three to five nominees provided by that PCP nomination. The nominees must be from the same party as the legislator being replaced increasing the likelihood that the replacement will agree on the big issues with the elected legislator. Under Measure 65 county commissioners would appoint regardless of party affiliation. Republican legislators from East Multnomah County might be replaced by Democrats should they leave mid-term and Democratic legislators in other parts of the state might be replaced by Republicans. If it occurred during a legislative session the majority party may change, the Speaker or Senate President might be replaced and committees reconstituted, disrupting the work of the legislature and lengthening the session, Under Measure 65, incumbent legislators will hang on in their sick beds and refuse new jobs to prevent such an outcome. Under current law, as in my example from this year, an orderly transition is almost guaranteed.

    "Measure 65 has other flaws and problems. The current laws have been amended and improved over time. While they are not perfect, they prevent the “accidents” I have described here.

    Our two party system is not perfect, but it is the way we bring our policy differences into the open. Measure 65 not only obscures those differences, but more often than we might think, will lead to results with which a majority of voters in a district will strongly disagree.

    Vote NO on Measure 65."

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    Rep Barhardt, if I understand your two main objections correctly, they are that:

    1) Too many people will run for pulic office; and 2) County Commissioners will not make party affiliation a primary consideration when deciding how to fill vacancies in the legislature.

    I just don't see these as persuasive arguments against measure 65.

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    I'm late to this conversation, but I'd like to directly answer TA's question up top:

    In how many cases will the Green, or Constitution, or Independence, or any "third" party survive a primary when the two major parties are running?

    All of them.

    It's really, really, really critical to understand the difference between Measure 65 and the similar-but-not-identical measure that was proposed in 2006.

    Measure 65, unlike the earlier version, allows the minor parties to run a candidate in the primary election and then - READ CAREFULLY - and then, if they're not successful, they get to endorse any other candidate and be listed on the general election ballot.

    In other words, the Working Families Party could have run a candidate in the U.S. Senate primary election - and then, if unsuccessful, then could have endorsed Jeff Merkley for the general.

    AND, unlike the present system, Measure 65 would ensure that all parties that endorse the candidates are listed on the ballot.

    Today, Jeff Merkley is the nominee of three parties - the Democrats, the IPOs, and the Working Families Party. But he's only going to be listed as a Democrat. He should be listed with all three -- and Measure 65 will ensure that... even if some or all of those parties endorsed another candidate in the primary.

    Measure 65 will strengthen the power of minor parties, not hurt them.

    Frankly, in the future, I'd like to see us move to the next level and re-legalize fusion voting -- so that someone like Jeff Merkley would appear on three separate ballot lines, but totaling up all his votes in the winner calculation.

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    Kari,

    Pardon my ignorance, but I don't know what fusion voting is. Thanks in advance.

  • Kisaja (unverified)
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    In how many cases will the Green, or Constitution, or Independence, or any "third" party survive a primary when the two major parties are running? All of them.

    Clearly T.A.'s point was that minor party candidates will not appear on the general election ballot under this measure. Your pathetic attempt to spin this and your babblings that they could endorse another party's candidate is typical of the vapidness of the people behind and supporting this measure.

    Frankly, I hadn't realized just what a deceitful, self-aggrandizing blowhard Keisling had become until his appearance before the City Club debating Gronke. He really is a an egotistical tool whose entire argument, like yours, is based on playing games in a fantasy land about problems in our system. It was apparent in how he did not answer the sober, serious arguments of Gronke that he has little concern in actually improving governance in Oregon, he just desperately wants his name back out there. Sadly, the last couple of times I have seen Barbara Roberts it has also become apparent she refuses to accept the reality that the problems she had was because she simply did not have the skills to be governor.

    If we have a problem with governance here, and I don't agree with Keisling or Roberts that we have the problems they claim, it is an irrefutable fact the problem lies with the human beings in the process --- the voters and the politicians they elect. It is utter laughable ignorance to even suggest the system is somehow the problem and not the voters and the kind of nitwits we too often have running here simply because those nitwits really do have a belief in their abilities that are not justified by the reality. Children also find excuses including circumstances to avoid blame, if the voters elect nitwits, the shame is squarely on those voters for not demanding better.

    There is nothing broken this measure has any relevance to fixing. There is plenty seriously wrong with the advocates as your final claim Measure 65 will strengthen the power of minor parties, not hurt them. that is not based on anything except juvenile fantasies how the world should work so that a bunch of even more poorly qualified people than we have now would get a chance at being elected they otherwise wouldn't have and most certainly don't deserve.

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    Kari, I agree with you about fusion voting.

    However, Oregon has never had "true" fusion voting of the kind you describe. Prior to 1958, we had a sort of "aggregated fusion", which allowed multiple political parties to list their nominations on the candidate's ballot line. (i.e., Jeff Merkley Indpendent; Democratic)

    As you may know, the Working Families Party and the Independent Party joined in a lawsuit to persuade the Secretary of State to recognize that the ballot design law was amended in 1995 to allow aggregated fusion. The SOS disagreed, a circuit court judge sided with them, and the case will continue moving through the appeals process if M65 fails.

    I expect to see a group that includes members of the Independent Party, Working Families Party, and a bi-partisan coalition of legislators and (hopefully) some statewide officeholders to support this issue in the 2009 legislative session.

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    Sal is correct. Oregon never had a true New York style fusion. Instead, we had an aggregated fusion -- which is EXACTLY what Measure 65 will create if it passes for general elections.

    Kisaja wrote...

    Clearly T.A.'s point was that minor party candidates will not appear on the general election ballot under this measure. Your pathetic attempt to spin this and your babblings that they could endorse another party's candidate is typical of the vapidness of the people behind and supporting this measure.

    Clearly, Kisaja has a lot of pent-up hostility and doesn't understand Measure 65.

    I understand TA's point. And my "pathetic spin" was actually an on-point rebuttal of his specific point.

    Under Measure 65, anybody can run in a primary and the top two vote-getters will run in the run-off. In both cases, the candidates will have their own party registration listed. Separately, they'll have all their party endorsements listed.

    The parties, both major and minor, will have the right to endorse as many candidates as they like (from zero to all of them) in both races.

    The minor parties (and the major ones, if need be) can shift their endorsement from one candidate in the primary to another candidate in the runoff.

    Now, let me be clear: I am undecided on Measure 65. I'm still trying to sort out what the unknown unintended consequences might be. I'm know what the opponents say are the unintended consequences. But as they say, it's hard to know what the unknown unknowns are.

  • Kisaja (unverified)
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    Hey Sal, let me say that as a Democrat myself who has become quite unimpressed with the incompetents we've had as DPO and county party chairs for the last decade or so, you might be chagrined to now you were exactly one those kind of losers who are responsible for that feeling on my part. So to the extent your arguments are based on a belief that M65 would enable or encourage more people like you whose skills with language far exceed their skills as leaders and critical thinkers to achieve elected office, that is THE major reason why I oppose M65.

    Unlike the series of unsubstantiated assertions and the petty game of spinning what others actual argue as you and Kari make your stock-in-trade, Paul G. has in fact given your arguments their due by noting them accurately and responding with logical rebuttals and supporting facts. What's even more interesting is that while some of the supporting evidence Paul G. provides references experiences of people from other parts of the country, some of who do self-governance better than we do in Oregon and others who at least have the brains to learn from their mistakes, you and other supporters primarily make egotistical, self-referential arguments about Oregon and yourselves. You provide the most evidence why, as I said before, the problem is with voters and candidates like you and Kari, and not the system.

    So I see little reason why a balanced individual with a normal IQ should even give the time of day to your babblings. What is your best argument, and the same goes for Kari, why you should be anything more than utterly ignorable on this issue?

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    Kisaja, you have me convinced. In particular, I found the name-calling and denigrating comments towards state legislators, volunteers with the Democratic Party, myself, Kari, and everyone else who disagrees with you highly persuasive. Paul is very lucky to have someone with your acumen and intellectual vigor advocating for his point of view.

  • (Show?)

    Measure 65 will destroy most of Oregon's minor political parties, reduce voter choices, confuse the ballots, reward dirty politicking, and likely fail its purpose of electing moderate candidates.

    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). Even if a candidate registered in or endorsed by a minor party were somehow to qualify for the general election ballot, that candidate's vote total would not count toward the 1% requirement, because the only votes that count are those of candidates who are nominated by a minor party, and Measure 65 eliminates all party nominations.

    Thus, under Measure 65, the 4 smallest 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 also removes all citiizen-sponsored candidates from the general election ballot, including those supported by tens or even hundreds 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 those candidates vehemently disagree 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 minor party will be forced to give up its philosophy and defensively endorse major party candidates, to avoid the strong implication of support for the stranger who suddenly hijacks the party's name on the primary ballot.

    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 rationally endorse more than one candidate per race, as that would split the votes of the party faithful and actually harm its endorsed candidates' chances to finish in the "top two" and advance to the general election. If voters were to pay attention and tend to follow these party endorsements, Measure 65 will, in effect, replace the major-party primaries with backroom endorsement deals. I would expect voters to pay great attention to the party endorsements on the ballot, because that will be the only reliable indicator of which candidate is, for example, the "true Democrat" or the "true Republican" and not merely a stranger or, as noted below, a ringer. I would also expect, at least in all statewide races, that the single endorsed Democrat and the single endorsed Republican would be the "top two" in the primary and advance to the general election ballot. Thus, the end result of Measure 65 will be to replace each party's primary with an unknown backroom process for endorsing one candidate in each race who is virtually guaranteed to advance to the general election. Instead of voters deciding who is nominated by each major party, it will be party operatives and high-rollers who decide, with their party endorsement labels on the ballot, which candidates go to the general election.

    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 Edwin 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

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    The most extensive web site arguing No on 65 is Save Oregon's Democracy, posted and maintained by Seth Wooley of the Pacific Green Party.

  • Kisaja (unverified)
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    Paul is very lucky to have someone with your acumen and intellectual vigor advocating for his point of view.

    Uh Sal, you are making me laugh. It seems out of your egotism you are sadly mistaken I am trying to convince you of anything, or that I am an even and advocate of a position on M65. I am just one voter who is not a poli-sci prof like Paul G. who knows something about these things, or a political player like you and Kari who have delusions of self-importance (or a politician who knows a scam she or he can ride when she or he sees it.) My attitude is that if the people in this state want to be as stupid as the people in Washington have been, I am not egotistical enough to believe there is one thing I can do to stop them.

    What's making me laugh is how you respond to me as one voter taking the time to explain to you and Kari, with the level of respect I think you as an advocate for one side has earned, why your nuttiness has convinced me M65 is a really dumb idea. Paul G. on the other hand is an advocate who has convinced this one voter on the merit of his case that I should vote against M65. So I'm not advocating for his point of view, only reporting that he sold me and why, and that you and Kari have done quite the opposite and why.

    Leaves you looking kind of foolish slamming someone for letting you know the reason you aren't persuasive is because of the way you try to persuade them, doesn't it? Of course, Kari has not yet blustered in with a comment based on spinning what somebody says rather than speaking squarely to the merits of the arguments of those against M65, so I guess we have that to look forward to also.

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    I'm going to be ignoring Kisaja from this point forward, since his arguments are entirely ad hominem.

    Dan Meek -- Thanks for chiming in. As I said above, I'm undecided on M65.

    I'd like to hear more details about this:

    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).

    If true, that does seem be a serious flaw in M65. After all, the aggregated fusion concept only works if there actually are minor parties.

    I'm a Democrat, and unless something horrible happens, I'll always be a Democrat. But I believe that our democracy will be better off if we have MORE parties, not less.

    Dan, could expand on how minor parties get their legal status, how they keep their legal status, and how M65 affects that? (Maybe this should be a guest column, rather than a buried comment.)

  • Kisaja (unverified)
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    I'm going to be ignoring Kisaja from this point forward, since his arguments are entirely ad hominem.

    For the rest, since Kari is playing the grade school freeze out game, it generally helps when you are trying to convince others to use language properly and words according to their accepted arguments. An "ad hominem" argument (Kari's words) is when you argue the point someone is making is invalid because of who they are, (exclusive of their expertise, it is valid to draw that into the argument).

    That is different from saying they aren't persuasive, especially compared to someone who is an expert like Paul G. who makes an argument that is both valid and persuasive. And since my point was that I wasn't being an advocate about the merits, neither valid nor persuasive is relevant. What Kari appears to be saying with his grade-school attitude is that he's not going to address or consider why his comments are so unpersuasive to some on this issue.

    So, I guess we can consider what these two comments by Kari taken together could mean in sum:

    As I said above, I'm undecided on M65.

    Measure 65 will strengthen the power of minor parties, not hurt them.

    The latter seems like a pretty unambiguous statement of his beliefs, and let's take the first at face value. Does that means he's undecided on whether he thinks we should do what we can to strengthen the power of minor parties (since at this point this is the only option on the table and fusion voting is not)? Or that he doesn't really mean one of these two statements?

    Either way, it is that kind of squirrely argument (following on the heels of his utterly dishonest spin completely in line with Sal's argument on what T.A. said) that makes advocates for M65 so completely untrustworthy and unpersuasive. They talk out of all sides of their mouth and that leaves an average voter who pays close attention to the substance of arguments legitimately concerned what they are really up to. I'm afraid most of us have enough commonsense to know that Oregon and Oregonians just aren't that exceptional we have the magic secret, particularly when in this case it appears the advocates themselves haven't exactly been stars at governance.

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    What keeps people running from office is not the party nominations, its that so much money is required to mount a campaign, and the "proctor scope" (as Nixon would say) of the media and opposition researchers.

    There are districts right now where there are are only one candidate running. Not even the third parties, which would have been guaranteed a "one on one" contest put forth a candidate. If they aren't running now, they sure aren't going to run under the blanket primary or any other system.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    My major concern with M65 is one Marc Abrams mentions: that it will hinder progressive candidates. With lessened importance of the ideological identification and support of political parties, the power of monetary campaign contributions will become even more prominent than it is now. As Marc mentions, DLC types will likely do well, as will business-oriented, moderate-sounding Republicans. If you like the idea of one corporate party with two heads, M65 should bring change you favor.

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    Sal continues to write:

    What I object to is a primary system that is controlled by political parties, and particularly one where all taxpayers are being asked to bear the cost, but in which 25 percent of them receive no direct benefit.

    A little history: state funded party primaries is rooted in Progressive era reforms. Taxpayers are not "being asked to bear the cost," this is a provision in state law.

    If the proponents really object to state run party primaries, they should change that part of the law.

    And as I wrote before, Sal, the primary system is not controlled by the parties. This is a misleading statement and I wish you'd stop writing it.

    I can run in a Democratic or Republican primary by simply affiliating with the party six months before the election by paying a fee or collecting signatures. The party has absolutely no say in the process.

    Under Measure 65, in contrast, parties can file endorsements (something they do not do now) and these appear on the ballot.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Re: "In a year in which we appear to have nominated the most progressive candidate for President since McGovern..."

    This may well be true, since no progressive candidates have been nominated since McGovern. Here are some of Obama's "progressive" positions:

    Increase military spending to more than the rest of the world's combined.

    Leave nearly 300,000 corporate and regular military personnel in Iraq and the "vicinity".

    Maintain corporate control over health care.

    Threaten Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Russia militarily.

    Unqualified support for Israeli crimes.

    Unclean coal and nuclear.

    No impeachment for war criminals or the defilers of constitutional rule.

    Offshore drilling.

    Bailouts for the Wall Street crooks with no speculation tax.

    NAFTA-style unfree trade.

    FISA betrayal.

    Renew the Global War of Terror.

    "Missle defense" = Reaganist Star Wars.

    Provocative NATO memberships for Georgia and Ukraine.

    "In the best of outcomes, [Obama] will merely trade one brutal, losing war for another. In the worst case, [his] failed policies may set the stage for the return of Cheney and Rove, or their even more sinister avatars." (The Fate of Obama-ism)

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    Paul, I do not understand why you are trying to mislead people by entering into a discussion who is qualified to run for public office as the candidate of a political party in Oregon.

    The point I am making is about who can VOTE in primary elections.

    My point is that we should extend the franchise to the 400,000 people who help pay for the cost of these primary elections but who are not currently allowed to participate in them.

    If you are suggesting that political parties do not control who can vote in partisan primary elections in Oregon, or that all Oregon taxpayers are not paying for a benefit that is granted only to members of these private membership organizations, then you are saying something that just isn't so... YET AGAIN.

    Oregon law is very explicit about this:

          (3)(a) Not later than the 90th day before the date of the primary election, a major political party may file with the Secretary of State a certified copy of the current party rule allowing an elector not affiliated with any political party to vote in the party’s primary election. The party may not repeal the rule as filed during the 90 days before the primary election. The rule shall continue to be effective after the date of the primary election until the party gives written notice to the Secretary of State that the rule has been repealed. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, a party rule under this subsection may limit the candidates for whom an elector who is not affiliated with any political party may vote.
    
    (b) The party rule shall allow any elector who is permitted to vote for the most numerous branch of the Legislative Assembly also to vote in federal legislative elections, consistent with section 2, Article I, and the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    In other words, both the Democrats or the Republicans have complete control over who can vote in their primary elections, provided that their actions are consistent with the provisions of Section II, Article 1 of the US Constitution and with the seventeenth amendment.

    All of this brings up an important point about one of Dan Meek's arguments. He raises the following objection:

    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.

    The provision that he complains about here is nearly identical to current Oregon law with the caveat that it will now apply equally to minor political parties, and that it changes the amount of time someone may take before registering to run as a member of a political party (70 versus 180 days).

    Under Oregon law, neither Democrats nor Republicans have any way to prevent Bill Sizemore, Kevin Mannix, David Duke, nor anyone else from running for public office as a member of their party, and having that party identification appear on the ballot.

    In other words, Dan's complaint on this issue applies equally to current Oregon law.

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    Apparently the behaviour of the 'pre' tag does not include wrapping on blue oregon. The section of Oregon code I quoted is 254.365(3)(a), and it basically says that the major political parties may set their own rules about who can vote in partisan primaries.

    The point being that Paul is simply wrong to suggest that the state, not the political parties, controls who may vote in partisan elections in Oregon.

  • Ron Buel (unverified)
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    I have read the entire above thread, as appalling as that is. I support Ballot Measure 65 because I am sick of the way party politics works now.
    It is convincing to me that the major public employee unions who opposed campaign finance reform are the same people who are opposing ballot measure 65. It's not that I am anti-union -- I'm an ex-labor-organizer. The point is that in the Democratic primary that the public employee unions and the trial lawyers control the outcomes today by their giving. I was a Greg MacPherson supporter, even though I admire John Kroger a great deal. Yet the SEIU gave Kroger $312,000 in the primary, and OEA gave him $50,000. This is in the Attorney GEneral's race, and the clear intent was to punish MacPherson for his vote on and support of PERS reform. I am also concerned about the incredible partisanship in the state legislature. The Dems do the power analysis and figure out who gives them money, and work for their measures. The Republicans do the same thing. There is no chance that the twain shall meet, and the major donors are in full control on both sides of the aisle. Yeah, I'm a PCP and a solid Dem, but, frankly, I'd give my eye teeth for a non-partisan view of the state's or the public's interest on education, health care, transportation and global warming. That's not what we get. Consider the Education Funding floor referral measure introduced in the 2007 session, HJR 54. Who opposed it -- OEA, to keep peace in labor -- why SEIU may not have received the 16-17% increase they just got from the Guv. No way the OEA lobbyists could get their position through an objective look in the PIE Convention. But no one wants to rock the labor boat, and public employee unions control the contested D primaries with their money, from legislative races to the statewide races, including the Governor's office, where SEIU and OEA have the Gov's two top aides. I am a big supporter of Dan Meek's campaign finance reform. But who fought that -- the OEA and SEIU. They support the status quo, where they are in full control, primarily through their giving in the D primary. When committees have to report next week, we will see that the OEA and the SEIU are prominently mentioned in the anti-65 committee. The situation is worse in the Republican party, where anyone who is not anti-abortion or anti-gay rights has no chance in the primary, and the corporations hold even more sway than the labor special interests and trial lawyers do in the Democrats. And the Republicans do their very best to tear down all politicians and our representative democracy with their smear campaigns in the contested statewide races and the contested primaries. Do the parties provide cover for objectors, those willing to tweak the status quo -- not that I can see. This is not Great Britain or British Columbia -- we do not have 8 year terms, or six year terms for the most part. Ours are two and four. Once you are in, you are safe from challenge within your primary with very few exceptions (who has run against David Wu, for example). It's not the public interest, its the power and money analysis that controls. It's time to make a change, to shift the power back to the people.
    I will be voting yes on 65.

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    Apparently the behaviour of the 'pre' tag does not include wrapping on blue oregon.

    Yes, that's sort of the point. PRE: "The pre element defines preformatted text. The text enclosed in the pre element usually preserves spaces and line breaks. The text renders in a fixed-pitch font."

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    Ron Buel, I agree with your analysis but I do not see how it leads to support for Measure 65. I believe that the backroom party bosses will have more control under Measure 65 than they have now, as my long post above tries to explain. And Measure 65 will destroy the third parties, to boot.

    Among the good solutions to the problems you list are campaign finance reform and instant runoff voting. The overwhelming need is for campaign finance reform. See FairElections Oregon

    And, Sal, you say "In other words, Dan's complaint on this issue applies equally to current Oregon law." Not true.

    Under M65, 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. Or that person can register with any other party and display that party's name on the primary ballot, thus stealing the party's identify for himself in a race involving competition with other parties. This leads to the "ringer" incentives outlined in my post above.

    Under existing law, no one is allowed to steal a party's identity. The only "Democrat" in a race involving competition among the parties is the person nominated by Democratic voters in the Democratic primary. The only "Libertarian" is the person selected by the Libertarian Party, etc. Yes, anyone can run in the Democratic primary (if she has been a member of the party for at least 180 days), but that person is not listed on the ballot as a "Democrat" in competition with members of other parties. She is not listed on the ballot as a "Democrat" at all. Instead, she is listed on the Democratic primary ballot as a candidate, not as a "Democratic" candidate (since all of those appearing on the Democratic primary ballot are, by law, Democrats).

    Thus, under existing law, no one can take a party's identity without earning it by winning the primary or prevailing in the minor party's nomination process. Under M65, anyone can steal any party's identity by filling out a form and paying $500.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    Thus, under existing law, no one can take a party's identity without earning it by winning the primary or prevailing in the minor party's nomination process. Under M65, anyone can steal any party's identity by filling out a form and paying $500.

    Of course, somebody could just create a party with the word "independent" in it to capitalize on voter confusion - and then nominate anybody they want to the general election ballot, with the support of just three voters.

    Oh wait. That's already been done.

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    Yes, someone can create a new party, with about 21,000 valid signatures of registered voters. The new party can also use the internet to allow every single member of the party to elect a board to make candidate nominations and endorsements. That party, of course, is the Independent Party.

    It is the Legislature that stopped the use of the word "independent" by candidates who obtain ballot access by voter petition (all banned by Measure 65, by the way). Before 2006, any candidate who qualified for the ballot by collecting sufficient signatures of registered voters was identified on the ballot an "Independent." But the Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature thought that word sounded too good. After all, someone who is "independent" is strong, resourceful, and smart. So they changed the label on the ballot to "non-affiliated," which instead brings to mind someone who is a loner, misfit loser.

    Jack, you are perfectly free to create a new political party in Oregon, at least until the next Legislature changes those laws as well.

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    Kari - By convention, visual HTML user agents wrap text lines to fit within the available margins. Doing so is an optional style to associate with the 'pre' tag, but probably not a terrible idea when publishing a web site that only gives 80 characters of visual space in the comment section -- far less than any text file you might find on the web including, apparently, the Oregon Revised Statutes.

    If it were a terrible idea to wrap pre-formated text to fit a visual window, I suppose that the W3C wouldn't have bothered to create a 'pre-wrap' style element. If it's good enough for vi...

  • Julie Rubenstein (unverified)
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    What's the DLC???

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    Sal writes:

    My point is that we should extend the franchise to the 400,000 people who help pay for the cost of these primary elections but who are not currently allowed to participate in them.

    Sal, if you want to attack publicly financed primary elections, fine. But you aren't doing that.

    You conveniently ignore the fact that non affiliated voters can cast votes for more than half the races on the ballot currently.

    You conveniently ignore that fact that they are not disallowed from participating--they merely need to affiliate. If you think this is such a huge burden, then propose the Montana primary.

    <h2>And you, and the Oregonian, conveniently ignore the fact that the Top Two is a system used by only two states in the country (only for Susan Nielsen does "two"="many"), one of which is now pulling back, and which history shows will not address the problems you say it will.</h2>

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