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Independent Candidate in California Says Jury Still Out on Top-Two Primary

by James Doull, published
Alan Reynolds is an Independent candidate running for lieutenant governor in California. Choosing to run as an independent, according to Reynolds, is one thing that sets him apart from the other candidates in the race. Running as an Independent will give the voters another option outside of the two major parties. Reynolds believes that the two-party system voters have been stuck with isn’t serving the interest of the people. “," he said. "Right now we have two parties ‐‐ in California I’d say one‐and‐a‐half parties, and the only thing they agree on is staying in power.” He pointed out that the there hasn’t been a Republican lieutenant governor in over 30 years, and that the last one was appointed, not elected.The conception, therefore, is that if a candidate has an 'R' next to their name, it means they don't want to win. Further, "many third party conceptions are incorrect and hard to change." "I'm trying to bring another option," Reynolds added. This raises the subject of election reform, something Reynolds believes is necessary. However, he also believes the jury is still out on California's top-two primary system. One benefit of the nonpartisan system, he believes, is that it seems to allow more moderate candidates to get through to the general election. Reynolds says more moderate and centrist candidates better represent the views of the voting public. Decreasing party polarization might also allow voters to unify their efforts and focus more on pragmatic solutions, as rationality replaces ideology. He also believes, however, that Top-Two may not offer enough reform. First, California didn’t do enough to help implement the new process as only 25 percent of voters knew they could vote for any primary candidate in the last election. Additionally, under Top‐Two, it is difficult to assess how much support third parties have because they rarely make it to the general election. Reynolds believes there are three priorities when dealing with election reform: getting corporate money out of politics, finding ways to reform the role of political parties, and restructuring the electoral system itself. He says that one reform that is worth considering is instant runoff voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This voting method is used around the globe, including parts of California, to give voters a louder voice and reduce the strategic voting (voting against a candidate) that is inherent to the two‐party system. One thing is for sure: voter reform is still a work in progress. When considering the importance of California elections, Reynolds reminds people that the state is the eighth largest economy in the world, and that the state has the potential to set an example for the rest of the nation. He acknowledged some of the difficulties in running as an independent. The largest obstacle is an obvious one: money. Independent candidates, more often than not, lack the necessary funds to effectively launch their campaigns. Their purses simply aren’t as established, elaborate, or large as their major‐party rivals. When fundraising, Reynolds hears a fair share of “not right nows" from large organizations.
Nevertheless, Reynolds remains determined and optimistic in pursuing his goal to change the political structure from the inside. But, being an independent does have one major benefit. “It frees me up to be me," Reynolds said. “I will still be the same -- working within without having to sacrifice my independence.”

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