Will California Default Advocates Face Mainstream Republican Challenge?

Since Congress voted to extend the borrowing authority of the United States until February and end the partial government shutdown, many news publications have dissected the final vote in the U.S. House in which the last minute budget deal was approved, but 144 Republicans — 62 percent of party members in the chamber — voted “No.”

A recent article on IVN touched on the fact that many lawmakers voted against the budget deal out of concern of being “primaried out” in 2014. Some House Republicans are already looking at serious primary challenges after the government shutdown, all of whom must defend their incumbency in a partisan primary.

While some may say it was the staunch conservatives or tea party members who voted against the bill, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) — popular among conservatives — was among the 87 Republicans who voted “yes.” In fact, more Republicans from California voted for the budget deal than against it.

Only 7 California Republicans voted “no.” It will be interesting to see if mainstream Republicans mount challenges to any of the 7 “default advocates” who must now face a broad-based electorate in the June primary.

Additionally, not a single lawmaker from Washington state voted to keep the government in a partial shutdown or threaten the nation’s ability to pay future debt obligations — meaning none of the 6 Republicans representing the state.

What do these lawmakers have in common? They come from states with a nonpartisan primary system. They come from districts with diverse voting blocs and therefore have to appeal to a broader percentage of the electorate to retain their incumbency and not just a small ideological base, because every candidate running in the primary appears on a single ballot and only the top two vote getters move on to the general election.

The impact that nonpartisan primaries have on the legislative process cannot be ignored because these lawmakers are not voting to appease just 4 percent of the voting population. They are accountable to all voters in their district.

Editor’s Note: This article was coauthored by J. Stephen Peace and Shawn M. Griffiths

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