Top Two Primary system and redistricting cause of heated California Congressional Race?

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

If you pay any attention to politics in California, here are two words for you: Berman-Sherman.

Yup, that’s right, this closely watched, very lengthy, and expensive race in Congressional District 30 between incumbent Democratic House Members Howard Berman and Brad Sherman has gotten contentious the closer we are to the general election.

The two have met for numerous debates. The most recent one was on October 11th at Pierce College. [see video below]

The two waged a war of words that nearly turned into an all-out brawl. Some would say the candidates have been locked into an increasingly nasty and personal political race, even though they represent the same party.

“Berman-Sherman might be an isolated situation because a lot of factors weigh in here—this is an incumbent versus an incumbent battle, particularly these are two incumbents who are two long serving Congressmen,” said Geoff Pallay, special projects director, Ballotpedia. “They have a lot more to lose, therefore there is a lot more at stake, so it’s going to be a lot more contentious.”

Pally said, California is celebrating a couple of firsts this general election—redistricting and the top two primary. The result? There are a number of incumbent versus incumbent battles. 

“This is the first year California will be using the top two system and we think it’s going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out. There are 9 Congressional districts that have same party battles and a little more than a dozen state legislative races.”

Back in 2010, voters passed Proposition 14, the Top Two Primary Act, becoming the third state in the nation to have such system. Citizens hope this new system will give them a better, more representative government.

“What California voters hoped when they passed this proposition as well as proponents was a more moderate legislature, with more compromise across the state. We need competition in districts. If elected officials are not in competitive districts, they can ignore the wants and the needs of their district and focus on special interest groups, basically ignoring what their constituents might be hoping for in an elected official.” said Pallay

 It should be stated here that California Forward thought Proposition 14 was and is a good idea.

But the question remains, will Californians see the effects of the top two after this general election? Many analysts, including Pally, believe “it could take a couple of years.”

Nonetheless, it’s an exciting time in California, and you can bet all eyes will be on our Golden State for the above state matters as well as the number of ballot measures—11 on the November ticket.

“There’s a lot of strain on voters to get themselves to be at a point where they feel educated before they head to the polls,” said Pallay.


Cheryl Getuiza

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