California’s Top Two 

Posted: 8:43 pm Monday, June 4th, 2012

By Jamie Dupree

As voters go to the polls Tuesday in California, the usual political landscape is a bit different in the various races for Congress, as a new primary system could mean a different kind of November election in some Golden State congressional districts.

In most elections around the country for Congress, the Republican primary winner faces the Democratic primary winner in November; if there are third parties, their nominees would be on the general election ballot as well.

But not anymore in the Golden State.

Instead, all of the candidates for office are lumped into one primary, with the top two vote getters emerging in November.

That could mean two Democrats facing off, or two Republicans. We’ll see what happens today.

California also now allows candidates to get on the ballot with “No Party Preference,” which could even attract some support as well for voters seeking someone who isn’t aligned with either major party.

In some congressional districts, the primary change hasn’t meant anything, as the incumbent lawmaker will likely face someone from the other party in November.

But in other districts, it is a free-for-all.

Take House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi – who was elected to Congress 25 years ago this week – she faces 13 opponents in the California version of Louisiana’s “Jungle Primary.”

It’s an even bigger field for U.S. Senate, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) faces 23 opponents today, with only one of them likely to advance to November against the sitting Senator.

In California, there are two pairs of House Democrats who were forced into races against each other, and because of the “Top Two” primary format, they seem likely to battle again in November, as Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman seem destined for a re-match, along with Rep. Janice Hahn and Rep. Laura Richardson.

Maybe California’s “Top Two” won’t change things much for November – but we’ll see if the open primary for all means any odd results, which can sometimes happen in a low turnout election.

Stay tuned.