Independent and Minor Party Candidates Fare Poorly in California Top-Two Open Primary

On June 5, California held a top-two open primary. Although there were many independent candidates, some of whom were well-financed or who had been elected to city and county office, none of them (with one exception) placed first or second if there was also at least one Democrat and one Republican in the same race. Therefore, they cannot run in November.

The one exception was in the U.S. House race, 33rd district. Incumbent Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, placed first. Second place was won by Bill Bloomfield, an independent. However, Bloomfield had been a Republican until 2011, when he switched to being an independent. During the current campaign, he was endorsed by the former state chair of the Republican Party, Duf Sundheim. Bloomfield was also endorsed by John McCain, Pete Wilson, Richard Riordan, and many other Republican Party figures.

The only Republican on the ballot in the 33rd district was Christopher David, age 25, a Ron Paul supporter with little campaign funds.

No minor party member came close to being first or second. However, after primary write-ins are counted, there will probably be a few minor party members who place second, in the seven Congressional or legislative districts in which only one person appeared on the ballot.

Other than the 33rd U.S. House race, the only independents who placed second were in three U.S. House districts, but in these three, only members of one major party had also run in those races. The three independents (other than the 33rd district) who will appear on the November ballot for U.S. House are Marilyn Singleton of Oakland in the 13th district, Terry Phillips of Bakersfield in the 23rd district, and David Hernandez of North Hollywood in the 29th district. None of these three independents has a realistic chance of winning in November, because each of them will face an opponent who polled an overwhelming majority of the vote on June 5. Singleton will face Democratic incumbent Barbara Lee, who received 80.9% of the vote in June. Phillips will face Republican incumbent Kevin McCarthy, who received 71.5% of the vote in June. Hernandez will face Democrat Tony Cardenas, who got 63.2% of the June vote.


  1. […] are shifting in CaliforniaLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle -The Seattle Times -Ballot Accessall 334 news […]

  2. […] are shifting in CaliforniaLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle -The Seattle Times -Ballot Accessall 334 news […]

  3. Demo Rep · · Reply

    Gerrymanders control all — or about 98.6 plus percent.

    The top 2 stuff is WORTHLESS.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  4. Well, let’s hear it for optimism. Sure, the top two open primary system is a ruse for both the Democrats & GOP to further solidify their power, but I do admire that a few Independents competed well, and even if they face a tough race in the fall, they will have the opportunity to speak to issues that the two major parties refuse to address.

  5. Derek · · Reply

    An ideal runoff voting system would require all voters to vote for as many candidates in the first round. Then, a second round would have voters choose either both, one or none of the candidates. Should NOTA win a race, let all candidates spend time in that office for the same amount of time.

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