The House Government Operations Committee took up potential changes to their elections bill, H.429, on Thursday. Chairman McCarthy had an amendment to offer on the bill which would cap contributions from statewide candidates to political parties at $60K.
McCarthy outlined his proposed changes. The languages reads as a political party “only may accept,” so a violation would be against these accepting entities (parties). Existing law also limits other types of races as shown in the amendment Draft, so his “for instance” is a County Party has a similar limit in the same Statute shown in that Draft.
The second instance of amendment would be to strike out a section that dictated the order of nominations as they would appear on the ballot for local and statewide candidates.
Representative Sibilia also offered an amendment to the bill. Her proposal would eliminate the so-called “Sore Loser Law” in Section 1 of the bill. She reminded the Committee of the testimony from former Rep. Barbara Murphy, stating that the primary is for Parties to choose candidates and the general election is for the people.
One area she pointed to is that a death of a candidate could result in the failure of a party to nominate a candidate if they could not nominate the previous loser of a primary. She argued that primaries reflect “the decisions of the most ideological voters in a party” and losing means you are only losing to the most ideological of a portion of voters. She mentioned that polling shows near 50% of voters identify as independent it is “inappropriate for the parties to limit the voters choices after they have selected their candidates in the primary elections.” Additionally, it limits voter’s choices in a general election if you ban independents from the ballot.
She ended by saying that “the committee proposals do not increase voter choice, do not trust the voters to make their own choices, and attempt to give parties power to limit candidates past their parties primaries.”
Her second instance of amendment was to move the filing deadline. Saying that she would prefer the second Friday following the primary election in order to “provide all candidates equitable ballot access after the primary election, not just candidates that sought or received a party nomination.”
The current filing deadline for independent candidates is just before the primary election. McCarthy asked if Sibilia thought our open primary prevents some polarity and extreme candidacy. She deferred and said the system is better than closed. Better yet, she offered, would be a top four primary where the top four vote getters in the primary are placed on the general election ballot.
Representative Hooper asked Sibilia “why are you an Independent?” She responded that she was approached to run and she felt at the time one national party was too extreme at that time and the other state party was too ideological for her.
Representative Higley moved to find Sibilia’s amendment favorable. McCarthy disagreed, saying they should go the opposite way. He wanted Party nominations to “mean something.” The vote was 3-3-1 not in favor of the amendment.
Later in the week, there was a House Floor vote on both amendments and the underlying bill. McCarthy’s amendment passed, while Sibilia’s failed in a 59-78-11 vote. The underlying bill passed third reading in the House on Friday and will advance to the Senate.