Walter Jones observes: A 'jungle primary' could change Georgia politics
But the real highlight for the day came in finally getting to meet another heavy among journalism's elite in Georgia, Walter Jones, Director of Morris News Service.
Although Walter's reporting on the events of the day were in The Georgia Times-Union (a Georgia edition of The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville), you will find Walter's articles in most of Georgia's major metropolitan newspapers just about every day.
In a 9-30-2011 post entitled "A week after, is it safe to wonder if this was a case of 'Look Mom, the Emperor has no clothes'? -- Analysis of Troy Davis' execution," I wrote:
This is the Cracker Squire's first and only post on the Troy Davis frenzy.
Walter Jones tackles a tough one where, regardless of what you say and how you say it, you risk offending just about everyone. Walter, thanks for this story. It shows why you are one of the best.
Walter Jones does an excellent job of reporting and analysis in his article entitled "Analysis of Troy Davis' execution: A cause gone out of control" in The Georgia Times-Union:
This week Mr. Jones pins a keeper -- and you might even learn something from reading it to boot -- about the open or jungle primary that we will soon be hearing more rather than less about.
Thanks Walter, we do so enjoy your reporting and perspective. Maybe if your story had just stuck to the basics and reported that (1) under California's new open-primary system, all candidates for each office compete on a single ballot, and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation; and (2) that the system, designed to favor more moderate, middle-of-the-road candidates over ideologically extreme contenders in both major parties, also allows for outcomes in which two Democrats or two Republicans could face each other in November, then Todd Rheam over a gapundit.com wouldn't have gotten his panties in such a wad.
For me and my house, I love and even more than than so appreciate the analysis, even if, as was the case in your Troy Davis story, by being the best and telling it all brother you risk offending innocently both sides. Keep it the good work.
Mr. Jones article reads:
If California’s latest political fashion comes east, it could shake up politics in the Peach State, experts say.
Last Tuesday, California put into gear its so-called jungle primary in which all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of party. Voters can pick a candidate from one party in this race and another party in that one, and an independent in a third.
“I know all the trends start in California,” said Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University.
Not just fashions and entertainment trends. Remember the tax revolt Harold Jarvis launched from California and the immigration crackdown?
Richard Nixon, Earl Warren, Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger also started their political careers there.
The last one, the body-building Republican governor, sponsored a state referendum that led to use of the jungle primary. His aim was to break up the Democrats’ stranglehold on the legislature that prevented him from getting anything passed.
The idea is that allowing independents and members of both major parties to select the nominees would force candidates to take moderate stances. It would end the zigzag common to most elections where a candidate has to run to the right or the left to win the nomination and then race to the middle for the general election.
Georgia uses the same mechanism in special elections. That’s how the General Assembly wound up with an independent, something unheard of in traditional elections.
Swint notes that independents are the fastest-growing voter bloc.
“Voters like choices, so they say they don’t like parties that much anyway,” he said.
A survey by the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies shows that 16 percent of party members also planned to vote for someone from the opposite party.
Yet, other research shows voters still like to see candidates’ party labels because it helps them make their decision when voting on down-ticket races where they know little about who’s running.
The primary may lessen some of the power of incumbents, but that can’t be gauged this year because the state also used a citizen commission to redistrict the state which left many veteran officeholders running in new territory or against colleagues.
California is a complex state. Georgia, on the other hand, is dominated by one party and one political philosophy, conservative.
While Tuesday gave California a lot of runoffs between two candidates of the same party, last month’s candidate-qualifying period did the same thing here. Six Georgia congressmen face challengers within their own party.
Primary challengers here, though, usually are running to the outside and accusing the incumbent of losing touch with the party base.
Districts here are so lopsided that primaries effectively determine the whole election as they used to before California installed its jungle approach.
“It would change Georgia pretty dramatically,” said Randy Evans, a political advisor on the congressional and national level as well as a former member of Georgia’s State Election Board.
Party stalwarts like Evans, who has chaired recent state GOP conventions, warn that the top-two primary like California’s can be manipulated by a few people, especially when there are many candidates and no runoff for the nomination.
“Personally I think having choices that actually reflect the center right and the center left of the two parties is fine,” he said.
The founding fathers hoped they had created a system free of political parties, but as soon as the country began operating under the Constitution, these same founders quickly gravitated into factions that became parties.
Maybe the Californians have invented a better mousetrap. Or, maybe it’s like reality television, celebrity fascination and other goofy trends that also originated on the Left Coast.