Prop 121 faces broad, bipartisan rejection

| October 29 2012
Hannah Thoreson

The only thing that every political party in Arizona can agree on seems to be this:  that open primaries, as implemented by Prop 121, are a disaster best avoided.  Every major and minor organized political party in the state seems to have found good reasons to oppose the Open Elections, Open Government initiative.

Governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery have come out against the initiative, as have the state Republican Party and the Arizona Latino Republican Association.  The Goldwater Institute has also written about the probable outcomes of an open primary, referring to it as the “Incumbent Protection Act”, among other things.

The state Democratic Party has also come out against Prop 121, as have many organizations aligned with their interests.  Its Executive Director, Luis Heredia, said, “We believe that Prop. 121 does not resolve what the proponents believe, which is to moderate the state.”  This is an argument that both Republicans and Democrats have made, pointing out that a similar scheme led to a general election runoff for governor between a KKK member and a criminal in Louisiana.

Every third party has also come out vigorously against Prop 121, because it will make it nearly impossible for their organizations to get candidates on the ballot after the primary is over.  “If you are a Libertarian or a Green voter your candidates are almost guaranteed not to move on to the general election,” said Angel Torres, one of the co-chairs of the state Green Party.

Other independent groups, such as the League of Women Voters, have also found that Prop 121 will unintentionally deny voters a real choice in the general election.  One of the most likely outcomes of implementing an open primary as described by Prop 121 would be to create general election runoffs between members of the same party.  Voters unaffiliated with any political party would be subjected to a contest where no real choice exists.  Does your vote really count if the outcome is nearly guaranteed from the start of the race?