Our View: A political game gone wrong
Some folks are playing checkers with the District 1 state Senate race while others are playing chess.
Case in point: Almost 11,000 people voted for Democrat Steve Baird — a candidate who weeks before the March 26 election said he was dropping out of the race.
No candidate can truly drop out of a primary election, according to state law. After all, Baird’s name already was printed on the ballot.
Of course, we can’t realistically drag the person to Sacramento and force them to legislate either, if they win. We’re put in a position where we must take the candidate at his or her word when they state, unequivocally, they’re no longer running for the job.
Which leaves some folks scratching their heads when they see almost 11,000 votes for Baird.
The Republican in 2016 who became a Democrat for the 2018 state Senate special election was never a real candidate. Baird’s political stances appeared to mock genuine progressive ideas. For example, Baird argued for a universal income of $50,000 per person. He argued that abortion should be allowed up to and including the 25th year.
This isn’t the grandmaster of chess, or of politics, at work.
Others know how the pieces move and are quick to take advantage. An advertisement featuring Republican Assemblyman Brian Dahle and Baird appeared in a flier the week before the election. It was paid for by the Taxfighters for Brian Dahle for state Senate 2019 and the California Professional Firefighters PAC. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the California Association of Realtors have donated to those groups.
“Democrat Steve Baird and Republican Brian Dahle will both appear on your ballot and offer platforms that Democratic voters and Republican voters will find appealing,” the flier states.
For example, the flier notes that Baird supports voting rights for everyone living in California and his desire for universal health care. What wasn’t listed was his mocking stance on allowing “late term abortions up to and including the 25th year.”
This is the candidate — a man who declared he’d withdrawn from the race — who received almost 11,000 votes.
Naturally, some Democrats are crying to the heavens over what they see as dirty politics. A few have posted on Facebook urging another election.
How about instead we have some personal responsibility when casting a ballot?
Yes, the flier featuring Dahle and Baird was dirty politics. This is nothing new. Demanding a new election isn’t the way to fix this problem. Educating yourself about the candidates and making an informed decision is the proper method of correcting this issue.
Don’t blame politics-as-usual for the reason Baird got more votes than a legitimate Republican candidate and very likely pulled votes away from Silke Pflueger, the other Democrat in the race.
Blame the voters who can’t be bothered to perform basic research.
If any change to our elections should occur, it’s the dismissal of the top-two primary. You may hate the two-party system, but advancing the winner of each party’s primary to the general election ensures voters get a choice between distinct beliefs and values. California’s top-two system has given us a choice between two Republicans in the District 1 state Senate race. That could lead plenty of Democrats to forego voting in the June runoff.
And that means this part of the game is broken.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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