Democrats hold their ow in the open ‘jungle’ primaries….
The candidates who succeeded were largely staunch defenders of either liberal or conservative principles — moderation was not the big winner in California on election night.
And yet backers of the top-two primary, who in 2010 took a wrecking ball to the idea that spots on the November ballot should be reserved by political party, seemed to envision consensus-building candidates who could bridge the partisan divide.
“This primary would certainly cast some doubt on that idea,” said Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
No candidate needed those moderate-minded voters more than Antonio Villaraigosa. The former Los Angeles mayor labored mightily but unsuccessfully to find some sort of coalition in the governor’s race that would get him into a one-on-one showdown with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
But party labels survived. And a $22.7-million boost for Villaraigosa from an independent political action committee couldn’t match the power of two tweets from President Trump in endorsing Republican John Cox. That may have helped even wavering GOP voters stick with the San Diego businessman rather than split their votes among other candidates — the kind of split that could have allowed Villaraigosa to leapfrog into second place.
“This is why parties are useful,” McGhee said. “Parties and their leaders provide information for voters, a shortcut that allows them to simplify their decision.”
Evidence of a party’s imprint in a crowded field of candidates — in this case, its absence — also was clear in the U.S. Senate race. There, the silence of GOP leaders gave party voters no clear sign on what to do with a long list of unknown prospects. Two Democrats, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Kevin de León, probably will face off against each other in November as a result.
If Democrats dominate in November, the 2018 primary may have done little to change the perception that California is solidly blue on the political map..