Eliminate the Primary?
[Note: the Devil’s Advocate signed in for this post to write the concluding paragraph.]
From today’s Woonsocket Call:
A move by the General Assembly to grant a waiver of the traditional waiting period for disaffiliating from a political party could put more voters at the polls for Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for the late Roger R. Badeau’s State Senate seat.
Badeau’s death while in office on Jan. 25 set the stage for a special election in the East Woonsocket and Cumberland Hill district to replace the veteran Woonsocket senator. The candidate filing period yielded three Senate hopefuls — Rosina L. Hunt of 68 Hamlet Ave., Roger A. Picard of 764 Mendon Road, and Cumberland’s contender, Thomas J. Scully of 66 Beamis Ave. All three are Democrats and without a Republican contender, the contest will actually be decided on Tuesday for all intents and purposes.
The changing of the rules to
open up this primary and effectively render it a general election  enable recently disaffiliated voters to participate is for a noble cause in this case: to ensure that all more voters in Senate District 20 have a say in the selection of their state senator.
The less lofty practice of cross party primary raids, whereby members of a party will attempt to pick the candidate of an opposition party by changing affiliation and voting in the primary of that party, is certainly not unheard of. Perhaps one of the better known examples of this is the recent “campaign” by a National Radio Talk Show Host urging Republicans to cross over and vote for a particular Democrat presidential candidate. “Do-overs” are presently being contemplated for the Democrat presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan, whose delegates were eliminated by the DNC because they moved up the dates of their primaries in violation of DNC rules. [In this matter, I agree with another National Radio Talk Show Host.] In short, primaries are not always carried out as intended. Is it time to eliminate the primary altogether? Undoubtedly, they drag out the election process, a condition that has been exacerbated by the recent trend of states moving the dates of their primaries up and up so as to have a greater influence in the selection of presidential candidates. They can make it far more expensive to run for office. Under the American electoral system, we select our candidates by a plurality, not a majority. In that regard, there is no need to narrow the field with a primary. So why shouldn’t we go straight to a general election?