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Open primary ‘do-gooders’ push Frankenstein of a ballot scheme

The Arizona Capitol Times recently reported the same people behind the failed jungle primary initiative in 2012 plan on taking another run at it in 2016. Only this time jungle primary supporters intend to team up with another group of liberals pushing an aggressive regulatory agenda designed to relieve Arizonans of our free speech rights—all under the guise of eliminating so-called dark money.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham

What is perhaps most striking about the jungle primary/anti-dark money supporters is their disdain and disrespect for Arizona voters. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways already, and it’s not even 2016. Consider:

1.  The jungle primary/anti-dark money team is using a dark money device in order to avoid campaign finance laws. The hypocrisy of a group dedicated to forcing others to adhere to onerous campaign finance regulations, all while refusing to disclose its funding sources, is stunning.

2.  Arizona voters have made it loud and clear that they don’t want this type of California-style “reform.” The jungle primary proposal is an import from California that we wisely rejected by a whopping 2 to 1 margin in 2012. Yet here are the jungle primary supporters, fewer than three years later, telling the people of Arizona that we got it wrong. No we didn’t. People here have seen what a disaster this thing has been in California and have no desire to replicate it here.

3.  The supporters pushing this initiative are losing candidates who have proven incapable of winning elections in Arizona. Paul Johnson and Terry Goddard, the two people behind the jungle primary and the attack on free speech, have a combined staggering six losses in statewide races.

When politicians lose races, it is easy to make excuses and complain. It is apparently tougher to take a hard look at oneself. Has it ever occurred to these people that the reason they keep losing is that they are simply far too liberal for Arizona voters? Of course not. Paul Johnson lost his most recent run for governor by a 61-35 margin. Please don’t believe his claims that the primary elections system makes it hard for “moderates” like him to win—he’s about as “moderate” as his liberal comrade Bernie Sanders. And that’s the real reason he keeps losing, whether he is running as a candidate or pushing some harebrained electoral scheme.

The reality is that the jungle primary is simply a way for losing candidates to try to put their thumb on the scale of the Arizona election system so they might have a better chance of winning. The impending marriage with the anti-dark money forces is an awkward one to say the least, as the two have nothing to do with each other. Though the jungle primary supporters crow that it makes their measure stronger, it looks more like an act of desperation to revive a discredited measure that failed so badly a mere three years ago.

Arizonans don’t want a jungle primary, and they don’t want a whole series of new regulations brought to you by the same people who don’t want to follow the laws we have now. This Frankenstein of a ballot measure will meet the same fate it did in 2012, which is good news for our state.

-Robert Graham is Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party


  1. I don’t understand the comment about top-two being a “disaster” in California. How? Please explain. As a pro-business Republican, I’ll say it’s been very helpful relative to pro business legislation in a very blue state. When top two was on the California ballot in 2010 its greatest opposition came from organized labor. Therefore, with all due respect, from a “what Republicans seek” public policy perspective, your views make no sense to me.

  2. I’m with you, Jeff… as a conservative, I’m a little tired of the political parties’ “winnowing process” where they have a choke hold on determining which candidates we are permitted to vote for. In a free country where any qualified candidate can run for public office, the voters should also be free to choose from the entire field. If the political parties send up the best candidates and the voters agree, then so be it. If not… oh well.

  3. Roberto A. Reveles

    Republican Chairman Graham’s rant, punctuated by repeated juvenile references to what he terms a “jungle primary”, clearly reveals his lofty disdain for broadened voter participation in the electoral process by the taxpaying public. Despite Graham’s ill-conceived desire to limit voters’ choices, what he’s opposed to is a civilized primary election process allowing concerned citizens to choose the best candidates regardless of political affiliation. What the Republican Chairman obviously prefers is preserving the law of the jungle where one faction of political ideologues continue to rule over the rest of us.

  4. The “juvenile reference”, “jungle primary” is also used by
    1.Time magazine (May 15, 2014) “California’s New Jungle Primary System, All bets are off in California’s congressional races as multiple candidates from the same party face off.”
    2. American Thinker (October 31,2014) “The Impact of Senate Jungle Elections”
    3. Wikipedia A nonpartisan blanket primary is a primary election in which all candidates for the same elected office, regardless of respective political party, run against each other at once, instead of being segregated by political party. It is also known as a jungle primary.
    4. San Diego Union August 3, 2015 In this new primary system, all candidates compete in an open or “jungle” primary regardless of their party affiliation.
    5. Washington Post June 3, 2014 California’s new ‘jungle primary’ gets its second-ever test on Tuesday

    Maybe the term is not so juvenile.

    It’s problems are highlighted in the LA Times editorial of June 21, 2014 by Harold Meyerson “Op-Ed California’s jungle primary: Tried it. Dump it.” which concludes “It’s time for state voters to scrap it.”

  5. David… My take-away from the LA Times article is that they’ve tried it twice, with Democrats losing the first time and almost losing again this time, resulting in at least one conservative being elected in what has been a state dominated by liberals.

    The term “jungle primary” may not necessarily be juvenile, but the way it was used in that Op Ed sure made it appear to be derogatory.

  6. My take away was that the Party that can best limit the number of people from that party running for office will win the election. If you have 10 people from one party running, and two from another party, then the party with two candidates will have both candidates in the general election. Leaving the supporters of the multi candidate party without a viable choice. More elections will be decided by back room politics as parties exert pressure on those they don’t want running to drop out or not run.

    A measure meant to open up the election process actually has the exact opposite impact.

  7. I don’t know, David… I do see your point, but can’t help but feel that if the incumbent party is doing a good job, and due to term limits or the incumbent not wanting to run again, they field only one or two candidates, they will benefit by minimizing the split vote.

    If, on the other hand, they are really ******** the pooch and there are 10 guys who think thy can clean up the mess, then the loyal opposition only needs to send one or two guys out there to offer an alternative by making a distinction.

    I really don’t see a downside if our elected officials are more concerned with governing than they are with getting re-elected.

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