A change in election law in the?2015 Legislature has some?claiming they are being disenfranchised.
Previously, when the state-run?Democratic and Republican primaries?resulted in only one of the two major?parties having contested primaries, the?top two vote earners in the contested?primary would advance to the November General Election or, if only two?candidates sought a seat, there would?be no primary and both would be on the?November ballot.
But Senate Bill 499 changed the law?to now read: ?If a major political party?has two or more candidates for a particular office, the person who receives the?highest number of votes at the primary?election must be declared the nominee?of that major political party for the?office.?
Thus, for example, if there are only?Republicans seeking an office, one of?them is the party nominee and appears?on the ballot in November, leaving?Democrats and independents and those?of the minor parties in the district little?choice save the one Republican Party?members handed them.
The bill also moved back the deadline?for independent and minor party candidates to qualify for the General Election?from June to July, so a Democrat could?still file as an independent but not as a?nominee of the party.
In one state Senate race and three?Assembly races there are candidates on?the June 14 primary for only one of the?two major political parties, according to?press accounts.
The change in law creates some different dynamics.
Take for example Assembly District?19, which includes Mesquite. Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris?Edwards is being challenged in the primary by Republican Connie Foust. Only?39 percent of the district is Republican.
Edwards has the distinction of voting?for most of the $1.4 billion in tax hikes in?2015 before voting against them.
Conceivably Edwards would have a?better chance of re-election if he faced?Foust in a General Election with Democrats and others also voting rather than?in a GOP-only primary.
Foust is thumping on the tax issue in?her campaign against Edwards. ?The?current incumbent broke his promise?when he said, ?Now is not the time to?raise taxes?, and then proceeded to vote?for tax increases in 26 out of 32 tax bills!??Foust?s campaign website declares.
Similar dynamics could be a factor in?other races and alter the outcome of the?election.
As originally introduced SB499 was a?weird form of open primary. All candidates of all parties would have appeared?on a single primary ballot and the top?two vote recipients would advance to?the general, unless they both were of the?same party.
As signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval the gutted bill now just changes?minor party and independent candidate?filing deadlines and allows only one?Democrat or one Republican to advance?to November.
This is why some are saying they are?being disenfranchised by having limited?choices.
Frankly, lawmakers are the last people?who should be telling the parties how?to choose their candidates. The parties?are private entities that should choose?their candidates in any way they see fit?? privately funded caucuses, primaries,?smoke-filled backrooms or ?American?Idol?-style voting via text message or?arm-wrestling competition.
The state doesn?t conduct primaries?for the Libertarian, American Independent, Green or Communist parties, why?do it for just two?
Not only is the U.S. Constitution silent?on political parties, our Founders were?actually disdainful of political parties.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, ?I never?submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics,?or in anything else, where I was capable?of thinking for myself. Such an addiction?is the last degradation of a free and moral?agent. If I could not go to heaven but with?a party, I would not go there at all.?
?There is nothing which I dread so?much as a division of the republic into?two great parties, each arranged underits leader, and concerting measures in?opposition to each other,? John Adams?wrote in 1780. ?This, in my humble?apprehension, is to be dreaded as the?greatest political evil under our Constitution.?
Let the parties choose their candidates?without lawmakers dabbling in the?process. ? TM