Dealing with the Second Primary
It seems as if something has significantly changed in electoral politics — or else, that something that has been changing crossed into a visible field of light. The most striking example may have been in Alaska, where Senator Lisa Murkowski rejected the decision of the Republican Party’s primary voters and ran as a write-in candidate, ultimately defeating Republican Joe Miller. In Rhode Island Doug Gablinski (D, Bristol, Warren) attempt the same feat, and of course the governor’s race was four-way, with independent, Democrat, Republican, and Moderate candidates.
In some respects, one could say that the general election is becoming another shot at a primary, with all of the strategic opportunities that entails. Particularly, I think of the verb “to primary” — indicating the strategy whereby a faction unhappy with a particular office holder runs a candidate against him or her in the primaries. That will surely become a possibility in future general elections, with a special interests, like public sector unions, trying to knock disfavored politicians out in the primaries and then trying to split the vote so that the opposite party wins the general election.
So, legislation proposed by incoming Republican representatives Patricia Morgan and Michael Chippendale to create runoff elections that ultimately bring the race for office down to two candidates is certainly reasonable:
They say the creation of a runoff election requires an amendment to the state Constitution that would need to be passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, then approved by voters in the next general election. …
“This year there were 12 races in Rhode Island won with less than 50 percent of the vote. I fear this is an issue that will only grow over the next several election cycles,” [Morgan] said. “Ultimately we’ll see more disenfranchised voters, which will contribute to the existing problem of voter apathy and mistrust of the government.”