'Open primary' prop passes; challenge expected

SACRAMENTO Prop. 14 passed with 54 percent approval from voters, but it's expected to face stiff legal challenges.

Governor Schwarzenegger says Prop. 14 was the second piece of the puzzle needed to transform Sacramento. He says open primaries plus redrawing political district lines will help end dysfunction in the Capitol.

Political victories are few and far between for Schwarzenegger these days. But the passage of Proposition 14 is a big one because it radically changes the way Californians nominate candidates: Instead of the top candidate from each party moving on to the general election, only the top two, regardless of party, advance.

The move is supposed to help elect more moderate candidates and ease gridlock in Sacramento.

"You will see extraordinary change in the direction California will be going and the kind of decisions that will be made here," said Schwarzenegger.

StopTopTwo.org is readying a lawsuit to challenge Prop 14's constitutionality. Smaller political parties say they'll be marginalized.

"People say that you don't have a chance anyway, but no one knows. That's why they play the game in sports. They play the game for a reason. Because anything can happen," said Cres Vellucci, StopTopTwo.org.

Open primaries are largely untested and it's unclear whether it will, in fact, give more moderate politicians a chance.

In glancing at the results of more than one hundred state races in Tuesday's primary, only four had candidates from the same party who could have moved on, pitting Democrat against Democrat in each case.

"You're going to be asking not only third-party people, but members of the Republican party to vote for one of two Democrats, and that's seems very unfair," said Vellucci.

But Prop. 14 was modeled after Washington state's open primary law, which has passed constitutional muster.

"This law specifically refers to the decision by the Supreme Court, and I think it's going to be difficult to overturn," said Prof. Floyd Feeney, UC Davis School of Law.

Adopted at their last convention, California's Republican Party now has the ability to bypass open primaries and move to a caucus system, which means a small committee can nominate someone instead of voters.

If the courts rule against them, Prop. 14 opponents will be writing their own ballot initiative to change the new open-primary law.

Your feedback is important to us! Please complete a brief survey so we may continue to improve abc7.com

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.