The candidates were selected based on their support for political reforms that empower independent voters like the open primary and redistricting reform.
“Independent voters will be an influential factor in many of California’s Congressional races for the first time in over a decade,” said Jason Olson, the Director of IndependentVoice.Org. “Independent voters span the spectrum from conservative to moderate to liberal, but are unified around their belief that partisanship has broken our government and we have to fix it if we want to move the country forward. We’re proud to stand with candidates who support the kinds of reforms necessary – like open primaries and redistricting reform – that take power away from the political parties and return it to the people.”
The June 5, 2012 primary marks the debut of the open “top-two” primary where all voters – including independents (now referred to as “No Party Preference” voters) – are able to participate and vote for any candidate they choose. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes then advance to a “run-off” style election in November. It also marks the introduction of election districts drawn by an independent commission rather than politicians in the State Legislature. IndependentVoice.Org was a key proponent in passing both changes via voter approved measures in 2008 and 2010 and is part of the national independent movement pushing for these changes around the country.
Abel Maldonado, a Republican who formerly served as Lt. Governor and a State Legislator, is running in the 24th Congressional District in Santa Barbara County. Maldonado’s budget deal in the State Legislature put the top two open primary on the 2010 ballot and he worked with IndependentVoice.Org for its passage. “I put the top-two open primary on the 2010 ballot, and I’m proud to have stood with IndependentVoice.Org to give 3.6 million independent voters the right to participate fully in our elections process,” said Maldonado. “I’m eager to help take these reforms across the country if elected as the Congressional Representative from the 24th District.”
Stacey Lawson, a Democrat, a businesswoman and first time candidate, is running in the 2nd Congressional District in the North Coast area. “I’ve worked to bring people from all sides of an issue together to get things done – that’s how I’ve been able to create hundreds of jobs and help small businesses grow,” said Lawson. “Creating high-wage jobs and rebuilding the middle class is not a partisan issue. I look forward to working with independent voters and all Californians to put America back to work.”
Linda Parks, a longtime member of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors recently re-registered as an independent voter in order to run for Congress in the 26th District. Parks recently won the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, and many political observers feel that she has the best chance of any independent Congressional candidate in the country to win her race. “We need to end the divisive partisan politics that is gripping our country and damaging our economy,” said Parks. “The polarization in Washington is not only hurting our nation, it is also hurting our future, and the way to stop it is simple. We need to elect people to Congress who will work with both political parties.”
Olson said IndependentVoice.Org was hoping to expand its candidate education and endorsement process in the general election. “With all the new changes empowering independents, this is an important pilot test to show what these reforms could mean for the rest of the country. We’re excited about these endorsements, and we’re already thinking about how to expand the influence of independent voters in the second round of elections.”