Back in the early part of the last decade, people often asked me about running for public office. Other than I could not afford it because I was putting two kids through private school, I told them I could not run for any office except a statewide position because as a Republican it would be a hopeless cause and I don’t do hopeless political causes. Now because of the genius and money of Charles Munger, Jr., I cannot even run statewide in California with any hope of winning.
Munger is best known as a key person at Berkshire Hathaway (think Warren Buffett) and for being a billionaire. Munger has on various occasions inserted himself into the California political scene through the initiative process and with his large wallet.
In 2010, he was the principle sponsor of Proposition 14. The idea behind the initiative was that the political parties tend to nominate someone from their extremes through the primary process instead of someone with a more centrist stance. The initiative would make all candidates run in a jungle primary with the two top finishers – no matter their party designation – appearing on the ballot in the general election. The idea is under the new system we would end up with more moderate candidates and more cooperation between the parties running the government.
Talk about a good idea gone bad -- if it was ever even a good idea. What this process has done has virtually wiped out the Republican Party from even having a chance to win statewide elections. A perfect example was the recent U.S. Senate race in California. In the general election it pitted two Democrats against each other. Now some Democrats are crowing about how they won the most votes for U.S. Senate seats across America. That is because 12.2 million Californians had only a Democrat to vote for in the general election. Take that fact out and Democrats were swamped by some 5 million votes in other states.
California now has a legislature that is not only controlled by Democrats; but, because they have super majorities in both the State Senate and Assembly, Republicans are only showing up to Sacramento to collect their per diem. Combining that with the fact that every state-elected officer is a Democrat, the Republicans have zero say in Sacramento and less than zero chance to stop any of the radical plans of the significantly left-wing, public-employee controlled government.
To give you a little better idea of how badly this initiative has worked out, you can go below the U.S. Senate race to district races:
· Five of the 20 State Senate races had no Republican.
· Thirteen of the 80 Assembly Races had no Republican
· Seven of the 53 Congressional races in California had no Republican.
One can say that in those districts Republicans probably had no chance in the general election. But the voters never actually got to hear an opposing view to the existing power structure. And as we all know, weird things happen in elections. Since multiple elected Democrats in the legislature are now in prison, what is to say that some charges may not have popped up during the election thereby putting a Republican in office?
Fewer people pay attention during the primary or become familiar with the candidates as there may be many to choose from. Then they end up with a general election between two candidates who differ in policy in a negligible way and would end up voting in an identical manner once elected.
Democrats are touting that the turnout percentage of registered voters was higher in 2016, but the percentage of voting-age people who turned out continued to decline to 58.7 percent of eligible Californians. Proposition 14 has not exactly built interest in the election process.
I recently spent some time with the former state party chair of the California Republican Party and current California representative to the Republican National Committee, Shawn Steel. I asked him of the 14 spots for statewide office (seven offices up for election) in 2018 how many Republicans would be on the general election ballot. He did not answer, but suggested that the only way Republicans would be able to have someone in any of those 14 positions in the general would be to coalesce behind a single candidate in each race and hope the Democrats would split their vote among many candidates. I could not disagree with that analysis, but I guessed the Republicans may have three (under the old process they would have seven).
There has been some analysis recently that the Democrats spent a boatload of money fighting each other in elections instead of Republicans. That would be a nice benefit if you want to live in a Communist country where your only choices are between one member of the party or another member of the party. That is kind of what the election for city government in Los Angeles looks like with two of the constitutional officers unchallenged and Mayor Eric Garcetti running against a list of near nobodies. The only time a councilmember loses office is when they are termed out.
There are many factors that have led to Republicans having such a dismal performance, including a mass migration from the state of Republicans to what they perceive as more business friendly and sane places. But Munger’s ill-thought out plan to make elected officials more moderate has been an abysmal failure and given California a radical Leftist government.