Top-Two Systems Still Have Unbroken Record of Blocking Minor Party Candidates from Ballot, if at Least Two Major Party Members Run

Now that California has held its first regularly-scheduled top-two open primary, there have now been 81 minor party members who have run in top-two open primaries, in races that also had at least two major party members running. In all 81 instances, the minor party candidate did not place first or second in the primary and therefore was blocked from the general election campaign.

Besides the California examples, there have been such races in Louisiana and Washington state. There were 21 California minor party members who appeared on the California primary ballot last month. Here is a list of those candidates, and their percentages, and the order in which each placed:

1. Marsha Feinland, Peace & Freedom, US Senate, 14th of 24, 1.19%
2. Gail Lightfoot, Libertarian, US Senate, 9th of 24, 2.09%
3. Don Grundmann, American Independent, US Senate, 18th of 24, .68%
4. Kabiruddin Karim ali, Peace & Freedom, US Senate, 24th of 24, .25%
5. Douglas Arthur Tuma, Libertarian, US House 7, 4th of 4, 3.07%
6. Barry Hermanson, Green, US House 12, 3rd of 6, 5.36%
7. Carol Brouillet, Green, US House 18, 4th of 4, 4.08%
8. Eric Petersen, Green, US House 20, 5th of 7, 2.07%
9. Michael W. Powelson, Green, US House 30, 6th of 7, 2.06%
10. David William Steinman, Green, US House 33, 6th of 8, 3.48%
11. Steve Collett, Libertarian, US House 33, 5th of 8, 4.35%
12. Howard Johnson, Peace & Freedom, US House 34, 3rd of 3, 6.66%
13. Anthony W. Vieyra, Green, US House 35, 3rd of 3, 18.64%
14. Michael Benoit, Libertarian, US House 50, 4th of 5, 5.41%
15. John H. Webster, Libertarian, State Senate 13, 3rd of 4, 15.45%
16. David Edwards, Green, Assembly 1, 4th of 5, 6.11%
17. Charley Hooper, Libertarian, Assembly 1, 5th of 5, 5.38%
18. Pamela Elizondo, Green, Assembly 2, 3rd of 4, 8.77%
19. Janice Marlae Bonser, Libertarian, Assembly 8, 5th of 6, 4.33%
20. C. T. Weber, Peace & Freedom, Assembly 9, 6th of 6, 3.01%
21. John Paul Lindblad, Green, Assembly 39, 5th of 6, 7.60%

Many supporters of the California top-two ballot measure in 2010, including some newspaper editorial writers, claimed that top-two would be good for minor parties.


  1. TruFoe · · Reply

    No mention of the Fish and Chips Party?

  2. I have witness outright opposition to unity and I will reply to anyone who wants specifics here. I was a candidate for POTUS with the Ls, and promoted unity at both the CA state and national L conventions as a POTUS candidate.

  3. Larry Allred · · Reply

    The listed candidates were scrubbed from the general election ballot and this why voters get less with top two. No scheme invented can make undervoting look as smart or appealing.

  4. Top two sucks big time, period. End of discussion.

  5. “Many supporters of the California top-two ballot measure in 2010, including some newspaper editorial writers, claimed that top-two would be good for minor parties.”

    LOL! Anyone who said this either didn’t know what they were talking about or they were intentionally lying.

  6. Jim Riley · · Reply

    10. David William Steinman, Green, US House 33, 6th of 8, 3.48%

    11. Steve Collett, Libertarian, US House 33, 5th of 8, 4.35%

    Who were the Top 3 candidates in this congressional district, and which party did they prefer?

  7. […] not just give the houses to the homeless? We couldn’t get worse off. … Top two: “In all 81 instances, the minor [emergent] party candidate did not place first or second in the prima… from the general election campaign.” That’s not a bug. It’s a […]

  8. 1st time in state does not make a sample. Now that voters, minor parties, and independents she how it works in CA, the next time could be different.

  9. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #9 So in CD 33, there were both Democratic and Republican candidates in the primary, and one of the candidates in the general election is not a Democratic or Republican.

    Richard Winger must have excluded independent candidates from his analysis.

  10. To be fair, this entry is entitled “Top-Two Systems Still Have Unbroken Record of Blocking Minor Party Candidates from Ballot, if at Least Two Major Party Members Run”. Bill Bloomfield running against Henry Waxman isn’t a minor party candidate. And at least two major party candidates ran in the 33rd district primary, finishing ahead of the Libertarian and Green candidates.

    All these labels are self identified, and maybe the lesson here is the ability of the major party labels to carry the usual election majorities in the top two primary. So how did Bloomfield buck the trend?

    Well, he didn’t come out of nowhere. He’s historically an active Republican, active in candidate recruitment until March 2011. He’s ‘fiscally conservative, socially moderate’ and likes Schwarzenegger and the “No Labels” thing.

    Bloomfield appears to be personally wealthy, and was able to spend $1,120,000 of his own money on the primary campaign, while raising another $147,000 from contributors. Top-two doesn’t address this kind of fundraising advantage, nor is it intended to.

    Bloomfield’s FEC report:

  11. These independent (NPP-No Party Preference) candidates made it to the General Election:

    Congressional Seat
    13CD – Marilyn Singleton
    23CD – Terry Phillips
    29CD – David Hernadez
    33CD – Bill Bloomfield

    State Assembly
    28AD – Chad Walsh

  12. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #12, except for Bill Bloomfield (who is discussed at length above by #11), all those independent candidates were running in races in which only members of one major party were running.

    As noted by others, my post is about minor party candidates. If it were a post about independent candidates, I would have said that independents don’t place first or second either, unless they are running in districts in which only one major party runs anyone. The only exception is the Bill Bloomfield example, where there was one Republican but he was age 25, only spent $5,000, and was a Ron Paul supporter who was shunned by the Republican Party leadership. The Republican Party de facto nominee was Bloomfield, who was endorsed by many leading Republican politicians.

  13. Demo Rep · · Reply

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.
    NO primaries.
    Equal nominating petitions.
    Still waiting for an answer [since 1968] –

    What part of the nearly dead U.S.A. Constitution says that X percent of ALL voters in a robot party hack gang faction have a constitutional ***RIGHT*** to have the gang’s candidates on the general election ballots ???

    Solve for X — get the Nobel polisci Prize.

  14. If you want to correct the Runoff System, may I suggest 2 things:

    – Allow for voters to vote for as many candidates as they like
    – General election ballot will allow top candidates (equal to the square root of all candidates)

  15. TruFoe · · Reply

    Gimmicks like this are, if you’ll pardon the expression, “lipstick on a pig.”

    Without major changes in campaign finance laws (and a few Supreme Court justices) our political system will forever be a two party system, and a fatally corrupt two party system.

  16. Top Two is clearly a device to limit the choices voters have in the General Election. It eliminates all third party and independent candidates except in the few cases where only one major party candidate filed for the office. In November 2014, no statewide candidates who are not Democrats or Republicans will be on the ballot, leading to the elimination of the Libertarian and Peace and Freedom Parties in California. Greens and the American Independent Party currently have enough registrants to remain on the primary ballot even without meeting the threshold of 2% of statewide votes in a gubernatorial year, but what is the point of being on the primary ballot if you are barred in advance from participating in the General Election? This is not democracy.

  17. Demo Rep · · Reply

    # 18 Democracy is majority rule – direct or indirect – nothing more or less.

    For math challenged folks — monarchy/oligarchy = minority rule = ANTI-Democracy.

    ANTI-Democracy minority rule gerrymanders in ALL 50 States and in the 3 U.S.A. gerrymander systems.

    1/2 votes x 1/2 gerrymander areas = 1/4 control

    Much too difficult for the MORON media to understand — besides the SUPER-MORON SCOTUS math idiots.

  18. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #13 “If it were a post about independent candidates… ”

    Perhaps you will be making a post about independent candidates, or could add a footnote to your original post.

  19. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #18 California’s requirement that political parties have such large memberships to be preferred will not withstand a court challenge.

    The leaders of the smaller parties appear to prefer cartel-lite status to free elections.

  20. #21. The Green Party prefers open party access to the ballot and publicly funded elections.

    From the Green Party 2012 platform (

    1. Electoral reform
    a. Enact proportional representation voting systems for legislative seats on municipal, county, state and federal levels. Proportional representation systems provide that people are represented in the proportion their views are held in society and are based on dividing seats proportionally within multi-seat districts, compared to the standard U.S. single-seat, winner-take all districts. Forms of proportional representation include choice voting (candidate-based), party list (party-based) and mixed member voting (combines proportional representation with district representation).
    b. Enact Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) for chief executive offices like mayor, governor and president and other single-seat elections. Under IRV, voters can rank candidates in their order of preference (1,2,3, etc.) IRV ensures that the eventual winner has majority support and allows voters to express their preferences knowing that supporting their favorite candidate will not inadvertently help their least favored candidate. IRV thus frees voters from being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, and saves money by eliminating unnecessary run-off elections.
    c. Provide full public financing of federal, state and local elections, including free and equal radio and television time on the public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates and parties.
    d. Prohibit corporations from spending to influence elections, preferably by constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood, or as a condition of receipt of a corporate charter by federal chartering of corporations.
    e. Eliminate all ballot access laws and rules that discriminate against smaller parties and independents, and otherwise place undue burden on the right of citizens to run for office.
    f. Abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct national election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. As a step in that direction, support National Popular Vote legislation which would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), which would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
    g. Create a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, and open its presidential debates to all candidates who appear on at least as many ballots as would represent a majority of the Electoral College and who raise enough funds to otherwise qualify for general election public financing. Any candidate who refuses to participate in such debates would lose general election public financing for their candidacy. Amend federal law to remove the non-profit tax exemption status that allows corporations to fund the existing Commission on Presidential Debates and other such exclusive privately controlled debate entities.
    h. Amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party’s candidate to receive first time General Election public funding from 5% in the previous General Election to 1%; and change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party to receive public presidential convention funding from 5% for its candidate in the previous general election to 1%.
    i. Include the option to vote for a binding None of the Above (NOTA) on all party primary and general election ballots.
    j. Support the right to initiative, referendum and recall at all levels of government. Enact signature gathering standards that empower volunteer collection efforts and financial disclosure requirements that identify the sources of funding behind paid signature efforts.
    k. Enact a national “right to vote” law or constitutional amendment to guarantee universal, automatic, permanent voter registration, along with fail-safe voting procedures, so that eligible voters whose names are not on the voter rolls or whose information is out-of-date can correct the rolls and vote on the same day.
    l. Enact statehood for the District of Columbia. Ensure that residents of the District of Columbia have the same rights and representation as all other U.S. citizens.
    m. Restore full citizenship rights to felons upon completion of their sentence, including the right to vote and to run for elected office. Enable greater enfranchisement of overseas voters.
    n. Support strong enforcement of the Federal Voting Rights Act and, where applicable, state voting rights acts like the California Voting Rights Act.
    o. Make Election Day a national holiday and/or have weekend elections.
    p. Amend the U.S. Constitution to require that all vacancies in the U.S. Senate be filled by election rather than appointment.

  21. Demo Rep · · Reply

    # 22
    Uniform definition of Elector-Voter in ALL of the U.S.A.
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.
    Abolish all primaries, caucuses and conventions.
    Abolish the Electoral College.
    Abolish the minority rule U.S.A. Senate — and even all second houses in all State legislatures.

    Some of the other stuff will follow in short order.

    b./f. The Greens have IRV brain disease for single offices. Very sad.

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