Open Presidential Primaries Encourage A GOP Majority in California

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Guest Commentary
by Brian Brady

There is a simple way to make the Republican Party the majority party in California — let people vote for Republican candidates.  Former California and San Diego County GOP Chairman Ron Nehring claims that open primaries afford mischief-makers the opportunity to wear Republican clothing, and vote for Republican sheep, so that they can be slaughtered by the Democratic wolves in the general election.

California voters passed Proposition 14, the Top Two Primaries Act, in June 2010  What this means is that all elections, EXCEPT for the “political party” races, specifically Presidential primaries and County Central Committee races, will be “open.”  Stated differently, the old system was to have primary elections to pick party candidates, then conduct a general election between the parties’ choices.  The new system has candidates from all political parties run for office in an “initial” election.  Then, a “runoff” election, between the top-two finalists is held, regardless of their party affiliation.  The new system is used for every single state and congressional race except the Presidential primary and party County Committee elections; those two contests are conducted the old way.

Former Chairman Nehring posits that open elections for the partisan races might let outliers rig those contests.  The outliers can help to elect a weaker candidate, to oppose “their” preferred candidate in the general election.  When I read Nehring’s article, I originally thought that he stole my tin-foil hat (which I openly wear when discussing monetary policy), but then I realized that this was just exclusionary thinking…like a country club.

I just don’t see organizing the Occupy San Diego folks to vote in the California Republican Presidential primary.  It could happen, but an open Republican Presidential primary would attract more interested independents than conspiratorial socialists.  I can only think that this sort of exclusionary thinking is designed to preserve some sort of “ideological purity” which, if recent election results are any proof, doesn’t demonstrate success.  Rather the law of inertia seems more probable.  If independents choose to vote in the Republican Presidential primary, they may see the value of voting for Republicans in the down ballot races.

The Republican Party used to be, and should remain, the party of these principles: limited government, individual liberty, and free enterprise.  But our closed primary policy is the exact opposite of those principles.  We don’t practice what we preach and that hyprocrisy relegates us to the status of permanent minority party.

It’s no secret that political parties are losing voters.  Fortunately, more are fleeing the opposition than disassociate with us but leave us they do….in droves.  The fastest growing segment in California politics are the “Decline To State” a party; the closed Presidential primary policy deepens the divide.

Rick Santorum is reaching out to blue collar Democrats with socially conservative views.  At the California Republican Party convention, that strategy is called Hispanic Outreach.  Ron Paul appeals to disaffected Obama voters and independents.  At the CRP convention, that strategy is called Youth Outreach. The CRP can have as many “town halls” as it wants, in an attempt to shrink the communication deficit, but if the Election Day sign says “closed early,” the communication deficit will grow wider.

Demanding that Californians sign the equivalent of a “loyalty oath” doesn’t keep out interlopers; it dissuades those who want to take the CRP for a test drive.  It’s time to open our arms and welcome those who want what we’re selling.  Our principles are certainly in demand so there’s no reason to close the country club early.

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Brian Brady is a small business owner who lives in Solana Beach.  He is a director for Stop Taxing Us, the taxpayer advocacy and tea party group.  There, he crafted the “Promise to California taxpayers,” a no new tax pledge candidates make.  He is a candidate for SDGOP Central Committee.


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