Top-2 system offers better choices than party primaries
With each election cycle, it becomes more difficult to take Hawaii Republicans seriously as a major political party.
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With each election cycle, it becomes more difficult to take Hawaii Republicans
seriously as a major political party.
Republicans candidates have filed to run in this year’s statewide races — U.S. Senate, U.S. House,
governor, lieutenant governor — but they are mostly unknowns with little organization or GOP perennials who have never come close in big contests.
The party’s most promising candidate for governor had to obtain a restraining order against an online troll working for a GOP opponent, as Republicans show more interest in fighting each other than fighting Democrats.
The GOP’s irrelevance
is most apparent in the
Legislature, where it now holds none of 25 Senate seats for the first time
and a historic-low five of 51 House seats.
Chances for improving these numbers are dim after Republicans last week fielded candidates to challenge Democrats in only four of 12 Senate districts and 19 of 51 House districts.
The party is cash poor and bitterly divided between moderates struggling to find a platform they can sell to the state’s diverse and liberal electorate and
a right wing that attacks
the moderates as RINOs (Republicans in name only).
A Trumpist war against people of color, immigrants, women and LGBTs simply won’t appeal in a state of minorities and immigrants.
It rings hollow to hear Republicans blame Democrats for their problems; it’s not the Democrats’ job to fix the Republican Party.
Still, the GOP’s dysfunction is everybody’s problem because it means most elections are effectively settled in the Democratic primary, where only 202,283 of the state’s 726,940 registered voters participated in 2016, leaving the 437,664 voters in the general election with little left to decide.
So how do we fix it? We stop giving any political party a guaranteed spot in the general election by adopting a “top two” primary like California’s in which candidates for each office from all parties run in a single primary, with the top two vote-getters running off in the general election no matter which parties they come from.
It would force Republicans to improve their game if they want a spot in the general election and encourage more Democrats, especially moderates, to challenge their party’s incumbents.
It gives voters more reason to turn out and would protect against recent
attempts by the Hawaii Democratic Party to more tightly control who can
run and vote in the Democratic primary.
The result at first may well be two Democratic candidates in many general election races, but if Republicans decline to contest most races, better general election voters have a choice between two Democrats of different outlooks than having to accept the one Democrat who emerges from current primaries.
Courts have upheld the system, and the fact that both parties hate it in California is a good sign it’s an excellent idea.