Arizona Proposition 121: Great for political consultants
While Arizona voters grapple with the presidential race and the all-important contests for the Senate, House and state offices, an extremely destructive ballot measure has the chance to sneak through – Proposition 121, or the Open Elections/Open Government Initiative.
As a political operative and a consultant to many local and statewide candidates, I can say without hesitation that the initiative is nothing short of a carefully-devised scheme to hijack the entire political process by political parties.
The goal of Proposition 121 is clear: If we can eliminate party primaries, we can eliminate political parties altogether in Arizona politics. No political parties equal better government. Sounds good, but it is not.
Proposition 121 supporters pose as good-government types concerned about opening the political process to more candidates and voters. But, like all spoilsports who cannot get their way under the rules of the game, they seek to change the rules.
Proposition 121 would throw all candidates and voters into one primary. The top-two finishers in the primary would face off in the general election. Candidates would not be required to declare a party affiliation, and parties would be prohibited from any participation in candidate selection.
This would create electoral chaos. Voters would have no way of vetting candidates to verify their claims of party affiliation. Candidates of one party could capture the top two spots in the primary, leaving other voters shut out in the general election.
Proposition 121 supporters claim that the new primary process would increase turnout. But turnout has not increased in states that adopted the new primary system. In fact, the scheme can suppress voter turnout in the general election when many voters have no choice.
This is undoubtedly the goal of Proposition 121 supporters. Drive traditional party-affiliated candidates and voters out of the process and elect their own pet candidates committed to an agenda they cannot get approved under the current system.
The party primary system serves us well. It reflects the work of political parties that attract like-minded citizens who share common values and goals. It provides voters with clear choices as they support candidates who will support their public policy preferences.
Voters should cast their ballot against Proposition 121. Under the guise of government reform, it seeks to upend the entire political process and serve the interests of a small minority of sore losers.
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