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California's Top-Two Primary Helped Cause the Defeat of a "Blue Dog" Moderate Democratic Congressman by a More Liberal Democrat

Published on December 2, 2012, by in General.

The wealthy and influential backers of California’s Proposition 14, the top-two open primary, constantly argued that a top-two system would result in the election of more moderate politicians, and would decrease the number of liberal Democratic and conservative Republican politicians. However, the top-two system was responsible, in part, for the defeat of one of California’s “blue dog” Democratic member of Congress, Joe Baca. See this list of the 25 members of the “Blue Dog” Democratic caucus in the U.S. House, just prior to the November 2012 election. “Blue dog” Democrats hold themselves out as moderate Democrats.

Here is a Sacramento Bee story about how Congressman Baca lost to a more liberal Democrat in November, State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, in the 35th district. In the 2012 primary, the only candidates in that district were Democrats Baca and McLeod and a Green Party member, Anthony Vieyra. Baca received 45% of the primary vote; McLeod received 36%; Vieyra received 19%. McLeod won in November because, in October 2012, Mayor Mike Bloomberg spent $3,000,000 in independent expenditures for McLeod and against Baca. Bloomberg desired to defeat Baca because Baca generally voted almost 100% in favor of the National Rifle Association’s agenda, and Bloomberg is a fierce opponent of NRA positions.

Top-two systems produce random election results. Top-two systems are just as likely to help elect an “extremist” as to elect a “centrist.” Louisiana, which has by far the most experience with top-two (37 years for state office), easily demonstrates this, but most political analysts and reporters don’t examine Louisiana’s experience with the system.

Another reason that McLeod beat Baca is redistricting. Half of the 35th district was new territory for Baca, but the district was almost co-terminous with McLeod’s former State Senate district.

Gloria Negrete McLeod is by no means an “extremist”. She is merely a standard California Democrat, in the mainstream of her party. While she was in the State Senate she had a 31.8% ranking by the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is fairly standard for a Democratic member of the California legislature. Thanks to PoliticalWire for the link to the Sacramento Bee story.

3 Responses

  1. Be Rational

    “Top-two” is designed to allow the rich “good-old-boy” network, of which Michael Bloomberg is a card carrying member, the ability to control the electoral process and determine outcomes without the messy involvement of freeley chosen candidates by political parties, especially new upstart parties that might be outside their control and might make the changes America and the American people need.

    The “moderate” argument always was a red herring – just as Jim Riley’s long-winded nonsense is designed to obfuscate the true facts and deflect the people from opposing the “top-two” conspiracy.

    Government control of the economy, big deficits and massive spending outside the means of the people to support, ending the right to bear arms … all of these things are parts the agenda of the statist, anti-democratic, anti-liberty “top-two” proponents.

  2. Jim Riley

    I think there is a lot of bad blood involving Joe Baca, and there appears to be a reaction to what is seen as political empire building.

    http://www.sbsun.com/opinions/ci_22053156/opinion-john-longville-suggests-rep-joe-baca-should

    Senators in California represent about 32% more persons than federal representatives, and Negrete McLeod represented most of the new district. Baca actually moved from Rialto to Fontana so as to live in the new district. His current district office is in San Bernardino, and it would have been more natural for him to run in CA-31 which was left as an open seat to be won by a Republican.

    When Negrete McLeod was elected to the senate she defeated Joe Baca, Jr, his son, who was attempting to jump to the senate after a single term in the Assembly. In 2012, Baca, Jr. attempted to return to the Assembly, but was defeated by Cheryl Brown, who was an assistant of Negrete McLeod. Several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus resigned after Joe Baca was funneled funds from its PAC to his sons’ campaigns.

    Joe Baca was endorsed by many US Representatives including extremists like Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters. While such endorsements may be valuable in a Democratic primary, they may not be at all helpful in a general election against another Democrat. It gives the appearance of crony politics, which is not helped when your son who shares your name is also running for office, and you moved into a new district.

    I’d chalk this one up to personality rather than political issues, same as Fortney Pete Stark. Voters were tired of a cranky octogenarian who had served for 20 terms and had given up on even the pretense of actually living in California.

  3. Demo Rep

    NO such thing as a *moderate* Donkey since 1964 especially.

    ALL Donkey communists ALL the time.

    How many seconds into 2013 before CA has a communist Donkey collapse due in part to the rigged gerrymanders and top 2 primary machinations ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

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