Time to break the two-party stranglehold on primary elections (Opinion)
It's Primary Election Day in New Jersey. Eric Scott and I have a bet on the turnout. Another over-under wager based on the historical trends, number of contested races, and, OK, we didn't actually put that much thought into it.
It's clear there is a lack of enthusiasm for the candidates and the entire process. And this disconnect has been going on for many years.
Part of the problem in New Jersey is that both parties have contributed to the affordability crisis. Both parties have raised taxes, raided 'dedicated' funds and failed to deliver on promises. The default point made by most pundits and party leaders is the so-called 'map'. The district lines drawn by bureaucrats and self-interested pols in order to preserve their power. Forty districts intended to protect the incumbent party. And it works pretty well unless of course you're a middle or working class New Jerseyan, then it's a disaster.
Fewer voters turn out and mediocre candidates continue to dominate the landscape hoping to stay in office and grab a few perks for themselves and their friends.
The Chairman of the NJGOP, Doug Steinhardt, joined me on the morning show to talk about fighting Governor Murphy and his continued tax hikes. Doug is a good guy and he certainly hasn't given up despite the lack of enthusiasm and outright domination of the Democratic majority in Trenton. Although it's a positive thing that we have an opposition party, without major changes in attitudes and process, we're gonna continue to slide downhill with an increasing number of our friends, family and neighbors heading for the exit.
Here's where we start, open up the primaries to unaffiliated voters. More than two million people disenfranchised by being forced to declare for one party or the other in order to be heard. Considering how the 'map' protects incumbents, it's entirely unfair for the system to keep voters from having a say. It's time to break the back of the party establishment and end the reign of power for the insider elites who have raised your taxes and lined their own pockets for decades.
I would go even further to make the primary a non-partisan election and wipe out the party convention process all together. Top two vote-getters face off in November. But before we get there, let's start by changing one simple law: allow unaffiliated voters to participate without having to declare their allegiance to one political party. This would increase voter participation, diminish the power of the corrupt insiders and maybe, just maybe allow some independent thinking candidates to rise to the top and help save New Jersey.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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