The following piece appeared on the FlashReport as last weekend’s Sunday San Diego. This is good timing to cross-post it here, following Ryan Darby’s excellent Rostra entry on the same subject…
Sunday San Diego (and California): Booting Central Committee Elections from the Ballot
by Barry Jantz
March 27, 2011
Comparing them to Kiwanis Club elections, San Diego County Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler is involved in an effort to remove the county central committee elections of all parties from primary ballots across the state, citing the high cost of providing a “complete taxpayer subsidy of a private organization.”
Last Tuesday, the Union-Tribune reported on the savings move by several apparently annoyed county registrars in California, which reporter Christopher Cadelago noted — perhaps significantly — had not yet garnered a legislative author.
It’s a must read for the many FlashReport readers involved in the nuts and bolts of local party politics, which — we must admittedly agree — draws little notice from voters (other than the “science” of going down the ballot and selecting a handful of unknown candidates).
Of interest to Republicans, County GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric, minted last weekend as vice chairman South of the State Party, said he is open to looking at an alternative means of selecting party members. “I know it’s a big pain in the neck and a huge cost to administer these hundreds of individual offices,” said Krvaric in the story.
With last year’s Prop 14 having stripped the state of partisan primary legislative elections, the time is undoubtedly right in their minds for county elections officials to take up such an effort, especially wrapped in the banner of cost savings and non-subsidies for private organizations.
The comparison of a partisan central committee campaign to a private “Kiwanis Club” election is indeed ironic. Those of all parties supporting partisan primaries for legislative office (including me) have long held that registered party members should be the ones selecting their own nominees, while often noting that Rotarians would not allow Kiwanians to elect their officers and vice-versa.
The question of whether county central committees are completely private organizations — or part of a traditional democratic process for those of each party to elect individuals to represent their interests year round — will remain an ongoing debate, especially post Prop 14.
There is no doubt, however, that the mechanics of a democratic republic are sometimes annoying, often costly — and always necessary. Let’s not envision the day state budget problems result in authorities claiming we can’t afford elections at all.
In the meantime, given last weekend’s California Republican Party brouhaha over how GOP nominees will be selected in the future, I have a great idea. Maybe the CRP board of directors should select the local central committee members in every county in the state.
Click to see the reader comments on the FlashReport post.