Kyrsten Sinema, Vernon Parker and Why Top-Two Was and Is a Dumb Idea

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Is Kyrsten heading for congress? If she can get past Vernon Parker, she is...

See also: Can Kyrsten Sinema Win in Congressional District 9?
See also: Kyrsten Sinema's Hilary Rosen Moment, and Her Persistent Verbal Flubbery
See also: George H.W. Bush Approves of Vernon Parker; One-Time President Seems to Think Parker Has the Vision Thing
See also: Vernon Parker Leads Republicans in CD9, According to Vernon Parker's Poll

What's interesting about the result of the primary races in the newly drawn Ninth Congressional District is not that Republican Vernon Parker and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won their respective primaries. Rather it's that taken together, those primaries offer a textbook example of why the so-called Top Two initiative is a dumb idea.

Both Sinema and Parker were expected to win, Parker on the basis of name recognition in a crowded GOP field, Sinema as it was anticipated that her competitors would split the vote against her, leaving her the victor.

Each candidate comes with baggage. Sinema will have to contend with her past as a radical lefty, and Parker will face questions over his near-foreclosure and issues surrounding his consulting venture VBP Group, which is barred from obtaining certain Small Business Administration contracts.

Sinema is a tough campaigner and has demonstrated that she knows how to take a punch, and then some, while Parker can boast some cross-party appeal as long as he doesn't stand too close to Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

An African-American Republican versus an openly LGBT Democrat and one-time Ralph Nader-enthusiast will make for an entertaining race to follow. However, it would have not have been so interesting if former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson's Open Elections/Open Government initiative had been in play.

Essentially, the proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution would create an open primary, from which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, would advance to the general election.

Election officials say the proposal doesn't have the signatures necessary, while its supporters are going to court, betting that a judge will reverse the decision to keep it off the November ballot.

Proponents hope that the measure removes partisanship and extremism from the battlefield, and increases voter participation, noble goals to be sure.

Thing is, in CD 9, if the top two proposal had been law, and the same candidates were vying for those two slots, voters would have been given two liberal Democrats to chose from in the general: Sinema and her former colleague in the state Senate, David Schapira.


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37 comments
zhenry9
zhenry9

Also, any way we can get Disqus back?

zhenry9
zhenry9

I think the Pearce recall election is a prime example of why the top two primary is a great idea.  Yes, there were two Republicans and the Democrat minority wasn't represented.  However, if there was a Democrat on the ballot in a heavy R district like Pearce's at the time we'd likely still have Russell Pearce as a senate president.  If Pearce would have won or been unopposed in his current primary he would have coasted back to the capital since everybody knows a D can't win in LD25. 

 

A two party system in districts where Republican (or, rarely, Democrat) victory is a foregone conclusion allows the Constantin Querards of the world to pick leaders for the rest of us.  There may be better systems than the top two, but it's an improvement on what we have now.

theloushow
theloushow

Leave it to Lemons to double-speak.  A difference that makes no difference IS no difference.  So then why write about it?

Ross
Ross

"I doubt the vote counts in Tuesday's CD 9 primaries would have been much different under Top Two."

 

You're certainly entitled to your doubts, and I admire your ability to stretch them into 600 words or more.  However, what you overlook is that there are more independents in CD9, than there are either Republicans (next largest group)  or Democrats.  Until you come up with some data to show that just as many Independents chose to vote in one party primary or the other on Tuesday, as would have voted under Top Two, then I doubt that your assumption is correct.

dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

I've got no problemms with Sinimas lefty background. The GOP will say worse about her anyway. Time to end the fighting and support Sinima. 

teknik
teknik

but are these the districts where that party will prevail no matter what?

 

If so then it succeeds in it's goal.

 

at any rate I bet it would make for some sore sore losers!

 

mevans8
mevans8

Top Two only works if redistricting works and redistricting doesn't work as long as the Voting Rights Act requires Latinos to be gerrymandered into a handfull of districts. If the supposedly neutral redistricting commission had been allowed to create competitive districts, instead of creating a bunch of safe GOP and DEM districts and a paltry few "competitive" ones, then Top Two works and doesn't result in the Hobson's Choice scenarios you've depicted above. 

Ross
Ross

 @zhenry9

 Top Two is a bad idea except when it 's a good idea -- for example, preventing an Independent from creating a three-way race for Sheriff, which Lemons elsewhere rightly concludes is a sure ticket for Arpaio's reelection.

Thane.Eichenauer
Thane.Eichenauer

 @dennis20 Election day will be the ultimate test of Sinema's ability.  Whether Arizona voters want to vote for an advocate of a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban is yet to be determined.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @teknik yes like in districts that are GOP heavy (or Dem heavy) the minority of the voters would effectively be disenfranchised when the people they vote for in the primary get less votes then a bunch of whack job republcians so the top two GOP candidates win. It would basically make it where the Dems or GOP would have no chance of winning and your choices would be between to conservatives or two liberals...

CircleK
CircleK

Point is it would deny the minority party a chance at representation in the general. Whether it was the Ds or the Rs. Alsi, the Libs, Greens, etc. wld be further dienfranchised.

phxjustice
phxjustice

 @mevans8 Top Two only works, in my mind, if we eliminate primaries altogether.  If the concept of Top Two is for the best candidate to win, then it must be used in a general election, where anyone wishing to run (who meets minimum qualifications), no matter their party/no party affiliation is allowed to.  If someone doesn't get 50.01% of the vote, then there is a runoff of then we go to a Top Two.  So, my plan would actually be called the "Open Election" plan.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

Not true, boo-boo. Penzone got 75039 in the primary, Rowan 34562. Joe got 193778. Throw Stauffer into the mix and all he'd have to have got is one more vote than Penzone, and we;d have 2 Rs to choose from, not a Dem and an R. 

 

This top2 idea is for idiots. And Republicans. Dems wld be less of a force than they are now under this system. Hope it goes down in flames.

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @Ross I really can't think of a race where it would be a bad idea.  I'd love for someone to give me an actual example of a race that would be negatively impacted by a top two primary.

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @ptcgaz  @teknik I don't think it would be possible for two far right (or left) nuts to get through the top two.  That's the point.  Most likely one far right nut and one tolerable right winger.  Better than the current system where one far right nut and one democrat get through and the far right nut destroys the democrat in the general on party affiliation alone.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @phxjustice  @mevans8 by doing that tho you would basically make it so that in a state like AZ no liberal would have a chance to win at all anywhere, because it would be moderates only. I dislike moderates sometimes because they are hard to read.

 

zhenry9
zhenry9

@GreenHornet Stauffer is a former Republican, now independent. Penzone is a former Republican, now Democrat. They both have some good ideas and both would be a vast improvement on Joe, but having both of them on the ballot all but ensures Joe's victory. A top two primaryy would allow Joe's opposition to select one champion and coalesce around him, vastly improving the odds that Joe will be gone come November. I don't think you've thought this through all the way.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

 @zhenry9  @Ross The one Lemons mentions, which would stick us with that idiot Sinema. Parker's no saint, but he's less annoying.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @zhenry9  @LegitQuestions  @teknik really there are more than two views on abortion, gun control, etc.

 

either you support people the right to have automatic weapons and make stupid statements about everyday problems in life, and fantasize about using a gun to solve them, or you are against people being able to carry assault rifles.  

 

and in the abortion debate, either you are a baby killer or you want abortion to be a safe and legal choice for women. I esp dislike the GOP trying to redefine what rape is to push their 1899 world view upon everyone. 

 

Conservatives DO not like new ideas that is why they keep going back to the failed polices of the 1960s...

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @ptcgaz  @LegitQuestions  @teknik "I got one of them to see the error in the ways of the GOP and their hatred for everyone but the 1% and using the emotional issues to keep people voting for them"

 

Don't you see your role as the flip side of the coin?  Despite their outdated views on social issues, the GOP and in a broader sense conservatives  aremore than capable of coming up with good ideas in other areas.

 

A multi-party system would have more than one party representing polar issues like abortion etc.  There are some issues with two clear positions, but I think it's an error to think that most issues only have two positions.  Most issues allow for a very wide spectrum of positions.  As for which party most people would fit into: I would imagine it would change with the people represented and the problems at hand.  Ideally elections would be about individuals and ideas and not about parties.  The US is pretty unique in having only two major parties representing the entire country.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @zhenry9  @LegitQuestions  @teknik sure it does because I know plenty of people who are "moderates" that vote with their heart on things like abortion, guns, and all the other crap a certain party of creeps brings up each year. I got one of them to see the error in the ways of the GOP and their hatred for everyone but the 1% and using the emotional issues to keep people voting for them. How would a four party system work? what would the parties be? and which one would most people fit into ? that's the problem, there aren't 4 positions on most things, there are two..

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @ptcgaz  @LegitQuestions  @teknik Just because someone is a moderate doesn't make them a fence sitter.  Most reasonable people are moderates interested in using the available facts to find solutions.

 

The problem with a two party system is it allows such easy polarization on social issues like guns, god, abortion, etc.  If we had a good four or so then people could vote with their heads instead of just voting for or against abortion or gay marriage or whatever every single time.  That's why I think the top two is good: it allows a wide open field and diminishes the influence of parties over the whole process.  There is some room for improvement, such as not listing a candidates party on the ballot.  Voters would actually have to research the candidate and their positions instead of just looking for the R or the D.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @LegitQuestions  @zhenry9  @teknik the reason I dislike fence sitting moderates, is because they shift every few years from one stupid idea to the next. They follow fads. I don't like them because it's impossible to see what they are going to do. My comment has nothing at all to do with extremists shouting at the top of their lungs, more like it's anger at the people that listen to the extremists shouting at the top of their lungs and vote for stupid crap.. Sorta like this top two BS. 

 

And also the best path for progress at the moment is to fire all the people that are obstructing in the house and senate and filibustering anything, to make OBama look bad. ... I don't care where people sit politically it's this attitude of the GOP, which gets a lot of moderates to vote for them via their policies of guns, and god. Since many moderates are both religious and own guns. 

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

 @ptcgaz  @zhenry9  @teknik

 Fence sitting moderates are often pragmatics who see the best path to achieving progress.  Don't mistake their moderation for passion just because their not screaming at the top of their lungs like the lunatic fringe.

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @ptcgaz  @teknik Yes, it does level the playing field.  It allows all voters to have sway in a competitive general instead of allowing the dominant party to decide for everybody in the primary.

 

And it may yet make the ballot.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @zhenry9  @teknik by excluding one party it makes the playing field level? I am sorry but I am glad this is not on the ballot because it's a stupid idea.

zhenry9
zhenry9

 @ptcgaz  @zhenry9  @teknik If Democrats have won in your district then they should have no problem getting through a top two primary.  I'd love to see an example in the current system of a candidate being outside the top two vote getters at the primary level going on to win a general.  It doesn't happen now and it won't happen after the change.  The change would level the playing field in districts where one party never wins.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @zhenry9  @teknik why the fuck should I have to choose between two republicans? Democrats have won in my district.. despite being at a disadvantage in the numbers.

zhenry9
zhenry9

  @ptcgaz  @teknik I just don't think there is any point in having a Democrat on the ballot in districts where they are going to be trounced due to the D behind their name alone.  Under the current system Democrats have no influence and no chance in these districts.  The race is effectively decided in the Republican primary where nuts prevail.  Better to have two Republicans on the general ballot  and allow Democrats to pick the more moderate of the two.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @LegitQuestions  @zhenry9  @teknik thanks, btw I would be worried if it was two left-wing nuts too, because while I dislike in general fence sitting moderates, I hate extremists more, on both sides. 

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

 @zhenry9  @ptcgaz  @teknik

 I agree with ptcgaz on this one - your analysis is flawed when you say that you "don't think it would be possible for two far right (or left) nuts to geth through the top two.  Don't underestimate the capacity of the voters to push extremist nuts into the general.

ptcgaz
ptcgaz

 @zhenry9  @ptcgaz  @teknik no, it would not work out that way at all. It would be two right wingers and no democrats in some of the districts, but not all.

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