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KPCC 89.3 FM (Southern California Public Radio)
Feb 08, 2007 - 01:00 AM

by Jamie Court - Commentator

There's More Than Meets the Eye to an Early Primary

The following commentary by FTCR President Jamie Court, was broadcast on Thursday, February 8th, 2007 on Southern California Public Radio. Click here to listen to the audio of the commentary.

Jamie Court: Like many Californians, I don't like having to vote twice in the same year, let alone show up for three elections. But that's exactly what the Gov and legislative leaders are proposing -- THREE, Count them, ONE, TWO, THREE election days in 2008. An early February presidential primary. A June state legislative primary. And the final November vote.

What's worse each election comes with about a $90 million price tag for taxpayers. The big kahunas in the state house are complaining California should not just be an ATM for presidential candidates and that's what's driving the early primary. But 90 mil sounds like a lot of cashback from the state treasury to me.

And didn't Governor Schwarzenegger say after the last extra election he heard voters say they didn't want more elections? What gives?

Well, anytime you hear politicians complaining about campaign contributions, you can bet things aren't as they seem.

You see the February primary isn't so much about making California relevant as allowing termed limited state legislators to keep their paychecks. And that's why state legislative leaders plan to put a term limits extension initiative on that early February ballot. If it passes, otherwise ineligible politicians could run again in the second June primary and keep their seats in November.

Chances are not too many voters will show up in June and incumbents will have a real easy time holding on to their taxpayer-funded SUVs. Among those termed-out politicians who otherwise would be looking for work is Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. He's the big booster of the early primary and the term limits extension.

There's even talk of giving Schwarzenegger another four year term as a perk for going along.

During previous early March primaries in 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004 voters decided state legislative primaries as well as ballot measures. March didn't matter much for California's relevance either, which is why Schwarzenegger signed a bill in 2004 moving the vote back to June.

If a February presidential primary is really needed to preserve California's political ego, then legislative primaries should be on that ballot. But the voters have already rendered this verdict: no more Trojan horses, no more extra elections.

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