Boston primary Election
Pete Stark (right), who had one of the safest House seats in California for 40 years, was ousted by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell (left) in 2012 after the state abolished traditional primaries for a nonpartisan preliminary election.
PLEASANTON, Calif. — For three decades, it was no surprise who would be elected to Congress from this liberal district near Silicon Valley. In every election since 1972, Pete Stark faced little challenge in the Democratic primary. Every time, Republicans effectively ceded the race. Every time, Stark would win in a landslide.
In an effort to achieve a more bipartisan sensibility in both congressional and state legislative races, California dramatically changed its rules, abolishing the traditional primary system and replacing it with one in which voters could vote for anyone, regardless of party. The top finishers faced off in a general election, even if they were members of the same party.
It meant even people like Stark, the longest serving of the 53-member California delegation, were vulnerable to a challenge by someone who could stitch together a new coalition that included independents and Republicans. And come election night 2012, Eric Swalwell — a 31-year-old Democrat who wasn’t even born the year Stark was first elected — did just that, winning in one of the biggest upsets in the country.
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Why are primary elections held?
To determine which ONE person from each party will actually run in the final election. Otherwise, having more than one person from the same party running against each other in the final election will 'split' the voters within that party. This tends to dilute the voting strength of the party itself.
What are Open Primary elections?
Open. A registered voter may vote in any party primary regardless of his own party affiliation. When voters do not register with a party before the primary, it is called a pick-a-party primary because the voter can select which party's primary he or she wishes to vote in on election day. Because of the open nature of this system, a practice known as "raiding" may occur. "Raiding" consists of voters of one party crossing over and voting in the primary of another party, effectively allowing a party to help choose its opposition's candidate. The theory is that opposing party members…