Proposition 121 is attempting to bring California-style primary elections to Arizona

Voters in doubt about how to vote on Proposition 121 should look to our neighbor to the west and decide if they want California-style primary elections in Arizona.  The California top two primary system is similar to the one proposed in Proposition 121.  All candidates and voters would participate in one primary; the top two finishers in the primary would face off in the general election.

Party primaries would be abolished. What is more, political parties would be prohibited from engaging in any candidate selection activity.

In June, California voters had their first test of top two primaries. The primaries promised increased competition among candidates, higher voter turnout, and the election of so-called moderate candidates free of partisan leanings. On all scores, the primaries failed to deliver.

The primaries left voters with fewer choices in the general election. Candidates from the same party will compete in 28 of the 153 state and federal seats on the ballot in November.

Voter turnout in June was less than 30 percent. This was the lowest turnout in California history for primaries in a presidential election year.

There was more erosion of voter choice. Third-party candidates were knocked out of the process, assuring that they would have no role in the November election.

In one district with a decided advantage in Democratic registration, too many Democrats ran and split the vote. This resulted in two Republicans finishing first and second in the primary with low vote percentages. The dominant party was shut out for November, an outcome that would never occur under a normal elections process.

This lopsided and exclusionary finish could happen to any party. Voters affiliated with the party eliminated in the primary would lose their choice in November, contributing to low voter turnout in the general election.

Arizona voters need to think twice about approving the top two primary system.  The results in California are showing that it is a flawed idea.  Proposition 121 will result in less competition among candidates and lower voter turnout. It should be defeated on November 6.


  1. Well, if it ends the two party monopoly, with candidates selected and blessed by the party elites, seems like a good thing.

    • David, it does exactly the opposite: the Libertarians, the Greens, the Constitution Party, and other small parties — I’m running a hopeless campaign against Rep. Gosar now as the candidate of the (somewhat nonexistent) Americans Elect party, as is conservative Stephen Dolgos, my party colleague, running against Rep. Franks, but people can vote for us as protest votes in November — or for independents, Greens and Libertarians. With this law, there will only be a choice in November of a Democrat and a Republican, two Republicans, or two Democrats. Look at how it’s worked out in California (or similar states like Washington State and Louisiana): no non-D, non-R makes it to the top two in the primary. And California won’t even allow write-in candidates to run against the top two. (I don’t know what the proposed AZ law does with write-ins.) Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, it seems like a bad deal, I think.

      • Conservative American says

        Now THAT is the sort of thoughtful and informative comment I hope to read when I come here to Sonoran Alliance! I still have not yet gathered sufficient information to make an informed decsion on this measure but your points are definitely going into the mix!

        Thank you for that, Richard! 🙂

    • I certainly agree David, that smashing the oligarchy’s stranglehold on the country would be a dream come true. Whether this would accomplish that without unintended consequences is the question. What bothers me is that it is being pushed by Libertarians (Paul Johnson).

      Has anyone noticed in the recent primary and prior that the words “Democrat” and “Republican” have all but disappeared from campaign signage? In our recent primary, the only road sign that I saw with the word “Republican” on it was on a Wil Cardon sign. The trend on no party “ID” on signs and TV spots is a clear indication of disassociation. Why is that? Is THIS what gave Johnson and others the idea of TOP 2?

      • Paul Johnson is no kind of libertarian. If you want to double-check either ask him or any libertarian you meet.

        Just to be very clear herem Paul Johnson is not currently a libertarian, never has been a libertarian and I’ll bet $20 that he never (ever) will be a libertarian.

  2. Conservative American says

    Oh noes! I just read that MARY ROSE WILCOX is AGAINST 121!

    Ewwwwww! MARY ROSE WILCOX! Well, that takes care of THAT! Anything which MARY ROSE WILCOX opposes, I’m FOR!

    Ewwwwwww! MARY ROSE WILCOX! Help! I’ve been SLIMED! 🙁

    • Spiked Flails says

      A number of leftists are against 121 as well as Wilcox, but so are staunch conservatives. When both sides of the spectrum are against an idea, it’s most likely a bad idea. 121 would not only render the parties irrelevant (which is why both Rs and Ds are against the idea), but would HIDE information about candidates AND it might ensure that individuals are elected that DO NOT represent their district. Let’s take an example from California. In a Dem district (by voter registration), many D candidates ran, but only 2 Republicans ran. Needless to say, the Dems spread their votes across the D candidates and the Republicans won. Do you honestly believe the Republicans represent the views of their district? Think the voters are happy with the results of the “top 2” election scheme? Also, remember, Louisiana has a top two system and that system gave Louisiana voters a choice between Klansman David Duke and a felon. Still think it’s a good idea? Even a broken clock (Wilcox) can be right twice a day.

  3. I watched Paul J. give his pitch on Horizons and, as Thane correctly points out, NEVER claimed to be anything than what he is and was, a disaffected Democrat former Phoenix Mayor who earnestly believes in this tripe.

    Arizona Democrats have a problem connect with the electorate. Period. Importing ‘Kookie’ ideas on transforming the voting process from a state that is in constant crisis AFTER 30+ YEARS OF ONE PARTY RULE has nothing to do with their stated goals of ‘fixing what is broken in our politics.’

    Just like their takeover with the IRC – this is one more lame attempt to decieve voters and rig the process to get liberals into office.

    Arizona voters have learned the hard way to pay attention to the worst of Californication which as been dragging down quality of life here – THE POPULAR INITIATIVE!!!!!

    The blunt instrument of the professional left – disguised as ‘popular’. Long gone are the days when a casual box is checked in the voting booth. In another month or so Johnson can go back to annonymity at the Tea & Crumpits hour over @ Grand and his version of crayon and finger painting ‘thinktanking’!

    Anyone who thinks this represents progress just needs to drive west on I-10 for 4 hours and they can find paradise!

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