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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
A blog 'for independent minds'
A call for open primaries
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Dec. 8, 2013 12:11 p.m.



With public disgust with Congress at an all-time high, you’d think people would be paying attention to Tuesday’s election for the next rep from the Mass. 5th District, Ed Markey’s old seat.† But election official see no excitement: Framingham Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey is worried turnout may not hit double-figures.

As I argue in my column today, the problem isn’t just voter fatigue:



Massachusetts is a one-party state. The Democratic Party uses its power to keep it that way and the Republican Party canít do anything about it.

As a result, voters are deprived of real choices and competitive races. Democrats donít challenge other Democrats unless thereís an open seat. When there is a fight for the Democratic nomination, Republicans and independents are left out of the election that counts, and moderate Democrats are at a disadvantage in campaigns aimed at activists. Most of the time, Republicans donít stand a chance in the general election, which discourages good candidates from making the attempt.


Some of us have grown old waiting for the Massachusetts Republican Party to develop into a competitive force.† I submit that since itís proving so hard to create a real two-party system in Massachusetts, maybe it makes sense to de-emphasize parties altogether.



Massachusetts should adopt an open primary system: Put all candidates from both parties on the primary ballot and let everyone vote. The top two vote-getters compete in the general election. California has adopted this reform, in part to remove the bias toward extremists fostered by party primaries.† I think it might also take a little away from the advantage incumbents have, encourage more candidates to run and make general elections more meaningful.




The 5th District is a great example. In 1976 and in 3013, the seat opened up, attracting a crowd of Democrats. Markey won with 23 percent of the vote, and never faced a serious challenge in the next 37 years. Katherine won in a crowded field with 32 percent of the vote and if she doesn’t handily roll over Frank Addivinola Tuesday I’ll eat my hat.




Now, look at raw numbers: Clark won her primary with almost 22,000 votes Ė four times the 4,759 votes Addivinola tallied in the GOP primary: Five candidates in the Democratic primary won more votes than Addivinola: Clark; Peter Koutoujian, 15,290; Carl Sciortino, 11, 185; Will Brownsberger, 10,142; and Karen Spilka, 9,057.




Under an open primary system, Koutoujian would likely be facing off against Clark in Tuesday’s election – and people would be paying attention.




 

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