Roberts: Why do we foot the (big) bill for presidential primaries? - Open Primaries Arizona
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Roberts: Why do we foot the (big) bill for presidential primaries?

Posted by Kellie Ryan on January 25, 2016 at 10:14 AM

Roberts: Why do we foot the (big) bill for presidential primaries?

This article was written by Laurie Roberts for the Arizona Republic.


Secretary of State Michele Reagan has come up with a great idea.

No, really.

The state’s top elections official is proposing that the state stop paying for presidential primaries -- a move that would save us a cool $10 million.

The Arizona Capitol Times is reporting that Reagan plans to propose eliminating the subsidy when she submits her supplemental budget request to the Legislature Instead, the parties would have to pick up the tab, or figure out another way to select their nominees.

“We want to return this to the political parties to run,” her elections director, Eric Spencer, told the Cap Times’ Jeremy Duda. “And we believe that that’s a core function of a political party, to vet their nominees.”

Adding to reasons why the GOP and Democrats don't need party welfare? Fully a third of Arizona's voters can't even participate in the presidential primaries. Independents now comprise the largest and fastest growing voting bloc in the state yet they can't vote in a presidential primary. They are, however, expected to pick up a share of the tab.

Speaking of taxpayer-funded primaries, the state also should discontinue underwriting the cost of the Republican and Democratic primaries for state and federal offices. Though independents can vote in these primaries, few do and many of them object to being forced to choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot.

Of course, there is a way to fix that.

An initiative was filed on Thursday, aimed at scraping the political primaries and instead having an open primary, one that would put all candidates on a single ballot with the top two advancing to the general election. The proposal was on the ballot in 2012 but was stoned to death by voters, with a little help from a dark money group called Americans for Responsible Leadership. The group has ties to the David and Charles Koch donor network. The new proposal is an improved version of that idea.

Don't look for the initiative to get much love from the parties. Republican party operatives hate the idea of a top-two primary. Meanwhile, Democrat operatives also hate the idea of the top-two primary. This, of course, can mean only one thing.

It’s probably a pretty good idea.