State Capitol News
5:33 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Judge Denies Ballot Position for Open Primary Initiative

A state judge ruled today that an initiative to create an open primary is legally flawed and cannot be on the November ballot.

The measure would have all candidates for statewide, legislative and county supervisor posts run in a single primary. Then the top two would face off in the general election without regard to party affiliation. Judge Mark Brain rejected arguments by foes that the proposal to up-end the system made far too many changes in state election law to be considered a single subject. But the judge said initiative organizers went too far when they included a provision which said there would be no state funding EVER to elect precinct committeemen and committeewomen who, by law, are officers of each party. The judge said that was an entirely different issue. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, one of the supporters, said Brain got it wrong and promised to seek Supreme Court review.

"We think we have a very good claim, a very good reason as to why that was essential as part of our single subject," Johnson said. We'll make that case to the upper court."

Legal opposition has come mainly from interests affiliated with the Republican Party which dominates Arizona politics. But it also has come under fire from some Hispanic officials who fear that this kind of change in the system could result in the election of fewer minority candidates, even in areas of the state where they dominate.