''On the midterm cycles the general wisdom is you need to be paying attention''. That's the bottom line for voters ( only about a third of you registered statewide ) who will be going to the polls tomorrow in the California Primary. I spoke with Kerstyn Olson, the interim director of the well regarded Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.
USC and the LA Times put out a widely read poll this weekend that showed Governor Brown way ahead of his two main (Republican) challengers, Kashkari and Donnelly. However, Kashkari, do in large part to an ad blitz, is now in the number two spot, though with the margin of error that numbers are essentially even. Why is that significant? Because even if Brown wins 99 % of the vote, because of the so called ''open primary '' in this state, the first time involving so called ''constitutional officers'', the top two vote getters go on to the general election in November, regardless of party, regardless of vote totals. Olson calls it a ''grand experiment'' in more direct democracy, the idea is '' there's more focus on the individual and less on the party ." Sounds good, in theory. Only two other states are doing that, I believe, so we're either typical California trendsetters or way out on a limb. Olson and the USC and LA Times folks also found that there is more ''optimism'' in the state in general, and less cynicism about the state legislature. Having said all that, and certainly not to confuse matters, in most County races, such as here in LA the contest for Sheriff or Supervisor, the top two only make it into a runoff if no one gets more than 50 % of the vote... no open primary , or ''jungle'' primary as some label it. So as Olson said, you need to be paying attention, but beyond that you need to be participating. Vote. If you don't , IMHO you don't get to complain.
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