The most powerful backers of the top-two system in California consistently argued that if California passed the top-two voter measure in June 2010, the type of Republicans elected would change, from “extremists” to “moderates.” These backers included the Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and almost all of the state’s largest newspapers.
On the evening of January 15, the U.S. House voted on whether to increase the Hurricane Sandy relief fund from $17 billion to $50 billion. The Senate had already passed the $50 billion figure, which included $20 billion to repair bridges and roads, $4 for the Army Corps of Engineers, and $6.5 billion for the disaster relief fund. The roll call vote on increasing the bill to $50 billion passed narrowly, with virtual unanimous Democratic support, and the votes of some Republicans. Among the Republicans in the House, the vote on this amendment, the Freylinghuysen amendment, was 38 “yes”; 190 “no”; and 4 not voting.
Among the 24 Republicans in the House from top-two states, the vote was 4 “yes”; 19 “no”; and one not voting. For the entire roll call, see here. The ratio of “yes” votes to “no” votes for Republicans from the top-two states was virtually identical to the ratio of “yes” and “no” votes for all Republicans in the House.
Nothing in this blog post should be taken as expressing any opinion on whether the Freylinghuysen is good public policy or bad public policy. Nor should anything in this blog post be taken to indicate agreement with the terms “extremist” or “moderate” as applied to members of Congress. The purpose of this post is to rebut the idea, pushed by so many influential Californians in 2010, that the top-two system was a magic device to change the behavior of California’s politicians. Only one of the fifteen California Republican U.S. House members, Jeff Denham, voted for the Freylinghuysen amendment.