“Top Two” Primaries Benefit Tax-Raisers, Disenfranchise Tax-Cutters

The “Top Two Primaries Act,” most recently passed in California on June 8 as Proposition 14, is a cynical, devious and extremely dangerous way to choose candidates, charged Jim Tobin, President of the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation.

“The Top Two process, by which the top two vote-getters in a state primary appear on the statewide general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation, helps entrenched political machines retain their power and, in effect, destroys third-parties and independents,” said Tobin. “It favors big money, celebrities and major-party insiders.”

“If the Top-Two primary process were adopted in our state of Illinois, where all major state offices are controlled by Democrats, not only would third-parties and independents be wiped out, but the minority party—the Republicans, in this case—would essentially be crippled.”

“You would have the spectacle of two Democrats running against each other in November for state office, and all other parties and independents would be excluded.”

“What’s more, vote totals in Illinois indicate that the two Democrats who have received the most votes in primaries tend to be tax-raisers. Thus, regardless of which Democrat wins in the general election, he will favor raising taxes. The opposition party, third-parties and independents, which tend to keep the party in power honest, will be emasculated and powerless to stop tax increases.”

“Top Two is a serious threat because as goes California, so goes the nation,” said Tobin.

Adding to the palpable corruption of Proposition 14 is the questionable origin of its financial support. “One of the largest single financial contributions supporting the passage of Proposition 14—$100,000—came from Hewlett-Packard,” said Tobin. “It is no coincidence that Carly Fiorina, who is running for U.S. Senate as a Republican, was chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005.”

“Hewlett-Packard would like nothing better than to have Fiorina in the U.S. Senate, and then catapult her into the White House. If she wins the senatorial election, the state’s Top Two primary system will enable her party to consolidate its power. And if Top Two ever comes to Illinois, you can be sure that the state’s taxpayers will be at the mercy of tax-raisers for decades.”

“Hewlett-Packard’s major financial support of Proposition 14 was disgusting. Our organization will never again buy any products bearing the Hewlett-Packard label, and I urge all taxpayers who will be disenfranchised by Proposition 14 to do the same.”

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