The Hobson’s choice in Marin County elections; or, choosing between Left and Lefter

The theory behind Open Primaries is that it will encourage moderation in districts that are extremely Democrat or extremely Republican.  Without Open Primaries, minority opposition votes are symbolic throwaway votes.  Whoever is the majority candidate wins, regardless of the details of that candidate’s platform.  With Open Primaries, which inevitably result in two majority candidates going head to head, the minority opposition must either refrain from voting entirely or vote for the least bad of the other party’s candidates.  The hope is that, if minority party voters do the latter, they’ll vote for the opposition candidate who is least extreme.  I suspect that’s what’s going to happen in the upcoming Marin County election for 10th District in the California Assembly:

Due to California’s new open primary law, two Democrats will compete for the 10th District Assembly seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Because the 10th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, in past years the general election has been little more than a formality; for all practical purposes, the eventual winner had already been decided in the Democratic primary election.


The incumbent in this race is Michael Allen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010 to represent the 7th District. Allen, 65, moved from Sonoma County to an apartment in downtown San Rafael after the 7th District was splintered by redistricting in 2011. Currently the assistant majority leader in the Assembly, Allen is a labor lawyer who has served as executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 as well as president of the North Bay Labor Council and district director for state Sen. Patricia Wiggins. [Bookworm: In other words, way Left.]

His challenger is Marc Levine, 38, who has served on the San Rafael City Council since 2009. McCuan said Levine is known as a more business-friendly Democrat, and Levine’s endorsements and campaign donors indicate that. Levine angered some more liberal Marin Democrats in 2011 when he supported the opening of a Target store in San Rafael.

“Levine’s supporters are Joe Nation Democrats,” McCuan said, referring to the former assemblyman from Marin who once tried and failed to upend U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey in a Democratic primary election. [Bookworm: In other words, slightly less Left, thereby marginally avoiding fiscal insanity.]

I’m going to vote for Levine, because he’s better than Allen. Anything is better than Allen. But I truly resent having my voice muffled in this way. My candidate has been thrown out of the election entirely. Republicans are denied a voice and that is, I think, a complete failure of representation. It’s one thing always to lose; it’s another thing to be unable even to cry out as you do.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    I vote religiously when I have a choice. However, if I am denied a choice, then I will not vote, as that gives legitimacy to a corrupt system. What would happen to Marin if people just stopped voting for candidates? The candidates would lose all legitimacy.

  • jj

    Instantly getting off to a good start, the Marin Independent Journal manages to establish both their editor’s and their reporter’s fundamental illiteracy with the first two words of the article – which is pretty good going!  Generally when I encounter “Due to” where I should’ve encountered “Owing to,” I simply shake my head and stop reading right there, but since I encountered it through you, Miss Book, well…
    “Open” primaries render the system closer to farce than anything a normal person would recognize as a choice in something intended to resemble an election, but as America continues to dumb down they appear increasingly.  What they are, of course, is a failure to understand the purpose of a primary.  Primaries were private affairs, intended to allow parties to choose their candidates.  People who were not members of a party did not get to vote in its primary.  Republicans did not get to have any input into who the democrats chose to run, and vice versa.  Back in the days when the electorate was sufficiently educated to understand what the hell they were trying to do, they didn’t expect to have a voice in choosing the other party’s candidate, either.
    The difficulty arrived when ever-larger numbers of voters elected to be independent, therefore not affiliated with, nor a member of, either party.  They chose “independent” for whatever reason (there was no reason to: you were always free to vote for “the person” and not “the party” if you were so inclined; “independent” as a category is a bit silly), but then realization dawned.  “Hey,” all these newly-minted free thinkers said, “we don’t get to vote in no primaries!  Dat ain’t fair!”  In point of fact it was perfectly fair: if you refuse to ally with a party, why would you expect to be allowed to participate in its organizational process?  And you retained your ability to vote for whoever you wished in the general election.
    But somehow – it probably started in Crazifornia – the burgeoning, and apparently not-very-bright, numbers of independent-registered voters managed to convince whoever they needed to convince that it was indeed – on the planet Wambeeno – not fair, and so increasing numbers of us are confronted with “elections” between members of the same party.  Rather like Stalin’s system, when you think on it.  We have run-offs between the two highest vote-getters, and their party affiliations, therefore philosophies of things like governance, interference in your lives, etc., etc.; no longer have meaning.  (Although if the two highest vote-getters somehow turned out to be republicans, forgive me for being clear-eyed enough to suspect that there’d just be no way that would be allowed!)
    Here in WA the voter’s guides will coyly point out that, for example, Patty Murray “prefers the democrat party.”  It’s a bad joke, of course, but “bad joke” does seem to be the national future.   

  • Ron19

    Danny 1:

    “However, if I am denied a choice, then I will not vote, as that gives legitimacy to a corrupt system.”

    Good advice.

    Instead of going to the trouble of going out to vote for the candidate of The Lesser Evil, who is probably going to lose anyway, let the supporters of The Greater Evil decide who is going to run your government.

    That’ll show ’em.  

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  • Ymarsakar

    This is how democracy is the best way to totally control a people. It gives them the illusion of choice, yet in the end, they had no choice at all. 51% of 51% of 51% of 51%  basically means .1% of a country’s population decides what the other 99.9% does.

  • Ymarsakar

    The DICTATORSHIP OF THE MAJORITY, where 51% tells 49% what to do, would be INFINITELY better than what the Left has constructed in the US as of 2012.

  • shirleyelizabeth

    An Open Primaries initiative is on the ballot this season here in AZ, and I’m a bit terrified that enough people know nothing about it that it may get a passing vote. The many people that asked me to sign a petition for it this summer didn’t even know what it really is.