People of Northwest Public Radio
Thu August 7, 2014
Oregon Will Consider Washington's Top Two Primary System
Washington voters got another chance this week to take the state's relatively new Top Two primary system for a spin. Oregon voters will choose this year whether to shift to a similar method of choosing candidates. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman takes a look at some of the arguments for the Top Two system.
The top two vote-getters in central Washington's fourth Congressional District are Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse. A Tri-Cities TV station noted:
TV announcer: "And that gives us right now two farmers squaring off later this year for a seat in Congress."
But Didier and Newhouse aren't just two farmers. They're two Republicans. It's the first time a major political party will be shut out of a Congressional general election in Washington. It's scenarios like that that give political strategists in Oregon the shivers. Opponents on the left and the right say Top Two primaries limit voter choices in the general election and make running for office more costly. But in another case of politics making strange bedfellows, both major party candidates for Oregon governor support the proposal. Here's John Kitzhaber and Dennis Richardson at a recent debate.
Kitzhaber: "Yes, I do support the open primary."
Richardson: "The open primary is a good idea. We ought to seriously look at it."
Advocates say the Top Two primary would empower the nearly one-third of Oregon voters who don't belong to a political party. Right now those voters can't participate in partisan primaries.
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