CA GOP Has Fared Poorly in ‘Jungle Primary’ Era

VotedOver the past few weeks, leading into the California Republican Party’s convention in Orange County this weekend, there have been mailings supporting the argument that the “top two” or “jungle primary” system created by Proposition 14 in 2010 is a good idea.

It is not a good idea – at least not for conservatives. In fact, as the California Republican Party itself predicted when it strongly opposed the passage of Prop 14, it has been a disaster.

Prop. 14 changed the way elections for partisan office are held in California. Prior to its passage, each qualified political party held a primary in June, and the winner of that primary would advance to a general election ballot featuring all of the nominees of each party, as well as independent candidates.

Under the new system all candidates run in June, and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election.

Since Prop. 14’s passage, not a single Republican has been elected to statewide office. Since the passage of Prop. 14, there are fewer Republicans in Congress from California. Since the passage of Prop. 14, there are fewer Republicans in the State Senate. Since the passage of Prop. 14 there are fewer Republicans in the State Assembly.

Now, is Prop. 14 totally responsible for flagging GOP numbers in partisan elected offices? Of course not. But it certainly is not helping the Grand Old Party pick up numbers, as proponents said it would do.

I think it is important for us all to remember how we ended up with Prop.14 in the first place. Back in 2009, a terrible budget deal was brokered by insiders. Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with legislative leaders from both political parties, pushed through what was at the time the largest tax increase in the history of California. In order to get the deal done, three Republicans in each chamber had to vote for it. One of the three GOP votes in the Senate, Abel Maldonado, refused to vote for the deal unless the so-called “open primary” measure was placed on the ballot as part of the deal. So a terrible deal was made worse.

Governor Schwarzenegger then championed the ballot measure, raising millions of dollars to pass it.  And Maldonado, who campaigned for its passage, was rewarded with an appointment as Lieutenant Governor – but he was rejected by the voters when he ran for election as the appointed incumbent.

Just days after the tax-increase was passed, the state GOP gathered in Sacramento and passed a scathing resolution cutting off party funding to those Republicans who voted for the tax increase.

The delegates to the California Republican Party, when Prop. 14 was on the ballot, voted overwhelmingly to oppose the measure. And for good reason. First and foremost, eliminating the right of every political party to nominate a candidate in June, and have its nominee appear on the general election ballot, has meant that many races have no Republican on the ballot in the general election. The most glaring example was last year’s U.S. Senate race, where voters in November had to choose between then-Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) or then-U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez (D).

Prop. 14 has also created circumstances in which the general election is a food-fight between two Republicans, bringing an intra-party feud to the general election.

And, of course, the open primary has led to much higher costs to campaign (candidates now have to talk to every voter in June, and again in November). This higher cost for elections has worked out just fine for the Democrats, whose coalition includes very well-funded interests like the California Teachers Association.

In fact, at this weekend’s convention, there is a somewhat quixotic proposal to create a process for the State GOP delegates to have a vote – kind of a straw poll – to potentially endorse candidates in statewide races.  But that endorsement would not be binding on anyone, and of course would not limit ballot access to the endorsed Republican candidate alone. It is doubtful as to whether a candidate endorsed by the California Republican Party would have an advantage unless the party spends party resources to help communicate its endorsement to Republican voters. No one thinks that will happen.

Proponents of Prop. 14 also said that its passage would lead to a more moderate California legislature. However, as impossible as it once seemed, the state legislature has become more liberal than ever before! In fact, if you have money, which the liberal interest groups in the state do, Prop. 14 gives you more power, not less.

California Democrats have moved to the left. But on the GOP side, there has not been an offsetting move to the right. On the contrary, it seems like there are more Republicans than ever before who are willing to vote with Democrats for bad public policy, including big tax increases.

There is no better example, of course, than the recent vote to extend the state’s “Cap and Tax” program – the result of which is a GOP patina on a draconian program and an estimated over $25 billion in higher taxes over a decade!  Democrats control the legislature now with super-majorities in each chamber. If Prop. 14 was working out poorly for them, they could just vote to place a repeal of it onto the ballot.

The California Republican Party faces many challenges. But Prop. 14 has made the path forward more difficult, not less, for Republicans in the Golden State.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor for Breitbart California.  His columns appear regularly on this page.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

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Olympic Medalists Shouldn’t Be Excused From Paying Taxes

OlympicsLast week Democrats in Sacramento killed a bill by conservative Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) that would have exempted Olympic medal winners from paying state taxes on their winnings.

The U.S. Olympic Committee gives out bonuses to medal winners — $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Your first reaction might be frustration that something to help out our athletic champions was stopped. But let me explain why it is actually good that Jones’ bill did not advance.

While I am glad Jones introduced this bill, as it draws attention to California’s absurd tax rates, we are well past the point where we simply can’t afford any more preferential treatment in our tax codes, federal and state. Period.

Video: For Michael Phelps, 28 medals should be enough

The more narrow the group of people benefitting from treatment that is different than everyone else, the worse public policy it is — and the more immoral it is. I say “immoral” deliberately, because it is not right for government to apply rules and policies differently for different groups and categories of people, especially small groups and narrow categories. It is an insult, an affront to the notion of everyone being created equal under the eyes of God and people being treated equally by their government.

In this case, while the achievements of Olympians are amazing, they are still Americans, and some are Californians. Their heavy tax burden should be alleviated by lowering everyone’s tax burden, not by giving medalists a “carve out” — using government policies to create winners and losers. It’s worth noting they are already winners, American heroes, without special tax treatment.

So called “targeted tax cuts” or narrow tax credits might sound great. Hey, if anyone can be freed from some level of taxation isn’t that a win? And in California, with a liberal legislature guaranteeing that no broad tax relief is on the horizon, should we not push for any tax relief, no matter how narrow?

No. Actually, hell no!

Whether it is saying that an individual consumer product (such as tampons), a type of business (such as just forfilm-making), a type of activity (like just for manufacturing) or for just a particular area in California (enterprise zones), or just for moving to California (Can you say Tesla?) — all of this special treatment in tax policies has a terrible effect on our system of governance.

This pattern of gaming the system for the benefit of only a few has created a culture of corruption that has become so prevalent in our federal and state capitols. Those who benefit or want to benefit from special, narrow, favorable treatment hire well-connected lobbyists (often these are former politicians, advancing the idea that bellying up to the give-away bar means a lucrative payday for modestly paid legislators when they retire). It means big campaign contributions, or big independent expenditures to help those who go along, and to punish those who do not. It means big donations to causes near and dear to the political elite. I could go on.

Of course the inherent big losers in this process are we, the average people. Not only do we typically see little to no benefit from this narrowly targeted tax-code and spending favoritism, but it stands to reason that we are the ones actually footing the bills for the costs associated with all of this mess. Nothing happens for free. When government picks a winner, it creates a loser. Call it a rule of political physics.

I should add that as this system becomes more entrenched, and the number of those who benefit from special treatment grows, a great loss and injury occurs to those of us who would like to see broad reforms — such as across-the-board tax cuts or a move to a flat tax. Every interest that has carved out their “30 pieces of silver” through twisting the current system to its financial benefit now has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. After all, it is very likely a that a company’s tax burden goes up even with lower tax rates if its industry-specific tax credits go away, or whatever the carve out happens to be. Many narrow interests pay little or no taxes at all.

This growing system of corruption rivals ideological liberalism as an impediment to meaningful tax reform. It may be worse as it causes many who believe in tax cuts to hesitate or even create impediments lest the goodies, favors and money stop befitting them!

And so we come back to Michael Phelps (of Baltimore, Maryland, another high-tax jurisdiction). No one has earned more Olympic Gold than he. He is looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses from just the Rio Games alone. But are his victories more worthy of government favor than than the hard work of a police officer, or a soldier? How about an emergency room doctor? Or perhaps an elementary school teacher? Of course not.

It is broad tax relief that would make us all gold medal winners.

ublisher of the FlashReport

Originally published at Breitbart News and FlashReport.

GOP Convention marks epic battle for CA’s Republican delegates

As reported by the Fresno Bee:

It is now all but certain that California’s June 7 primary will be Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s coronation – or the day it becomes clear that the GOP will head to its national convention in Cleveland this summer without a clear nominee.

The campaign for that election starts in earnest this weekend in Burlingame, where the Republican rank-and-file will gather for the state party’s annual spring convention. It is expected to be an intense and high-energy gathering because it’s been a long time since California has played a pivotal role in selecting a presidential nominee, and also because there will be plenty of political star power.

“This weekend’s state GOP convention will be the best-attended and most-watched since Reagan ran for president – if that,” said Republican political strategist Jon Fleischman, publisher of the FlashReport, a widely read conservative blog. …