No peace for the parties

The holy trinity of open primaries: megamillionaire John Moores (top), ex–state senator Steve Peace (left), and ex-assemblyman Jeff Marston
  • The holy trinity of open primaries: megamillionaire John Moores (top), ex–state senator Steve Peace (left), and ex-assemblyman Jeff Marston

Ex-state senator Steve Peace is at it again. The onetime Democrat-turned-independent whose hopes for state office were dashed by mangled public utility regulation reform efforts back in the ’90s, is currently co-chairman of a group he set up called the Independent Voter Network. Now the bane of California’s two main political parties, Peace is in large part responsible for the state’s open primaries, which lump all candidates, regardless of party, into the same election pack, with sometimes unpredictable results. Now Peace, who has enjoyed financing from his then-employer, megamillionaire ex-Padres owner John Moores, and the state’s prison guard union, among others, is aiming at the partisans’ jugular: taxpayer financing of elections for party central committee members and party conventions.

Last week, Peace announced on his group’s website that he and sidekick Jeff Marston, a lobbyist and onetime GOP assemblyman, have submitted a proposed voter initiative to the office of California attorney general Kamala Harris that, if certified for the ballot and passed, would kill the funding practice. “The ‘End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties’ initiative submitted by IVP would prohibit the State of California from spending taxpayer funds and using state administrative resources to run private party elections,” says Peace’s announcement. “For all public elections, California would continue to administer the state-funded non-partisan primary system whereby all candidates and all voters participate in a single-ballot primary.

“Similarly, the initiative would require that the state run a nonpartisan voter-nominated primary election for the office of President. The parties, pursuant to their private right of association, would be allowed to either use those results to select delegates to their conventions, or pay for the extra costs of producing segregated tallies necessary to meet their desire to restrict voter participation, or adopt alternative non-taxpayer financed election systems similar to other private organizations which increasingly make use of online election systems.” Peace says ex-Padres owner Moores is not paying for the petition proposal.

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