Allan Hoffenblum, from Fox and Hounds, wrote a great piece on the effect of the Top-Two Primary. While much of his analysis is tongue-in-cheek, the article does a serious job of highlighting why the California Open Primary has a big effect on politics and election game that is played by those in power.
If we did not have the top two Open Primary Election on June 5 … Brad Sherman would be returning to Washington, D.C. as David the Giant Slayer. Pete Stark would have been guaranteed at least two more years in Congress. Former GOP Assembly Member Rico Oller would be thanking his tea party supporters for returning him to one final term in the Assembly. Assembly Members Michael Allen and Betsy Butler would be on the phone thanking Assembly Speaker John Pérez for his help in their being reelected...
Instead, California will see competitive races in otherwise partisan districts for the first time.
Sherman will go one on one with fellow Democrat Howard Berman in November, redistricting having placed them in the same congressional district. Octogenarian Stark will face a stiff challenge from young Dublin City Councilman/Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell. Oller will be squaring off against the less doctrinaire Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow. Allen and Butler, both who had to move into their new district to run, will be challenged by a popular local elected official … San Rafael Councilman Marc Levin against Allen, and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom against Butler.
Hoffenblum adds that low voter turnout an low interest in the primary election likely kept independent candidates from making a strong showing. He argues that the real test for the California Open Primary in terms of No Party Preference candidate viability will be in 2014.
Regardless, the Top Two Open Primary is here. Competitive elections have increased. And candidates in many district have to open their ears to people outside their partisan base for the first time.