• Party Primaries Should Be Won With A Majority, Not A Plurality

    February 26, 2024
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    Doral, Florida - The Florida legislature has a Republican super-majority, but a conservative minority and establishment leadership. See: https://miamiindependent.com/tammany-hall-in-tallahassee/.
    Party primaries, especially in States like Florida and Texas, which are governed by one dominant party, are often where the real action takes place in legislative politics. In these States, the Republican party routinely wins a majority or even a super-majority of the legislatures. Accordingly, the real battles occur in the party primaries, where grassroots conservatives often challenge incumbent establishment candidates funded by leadership.

    The current primary system in Florida awards victory to the candidate with the most votes, even if he does not win a majority of the votes cast. For example, this year Miami-Dade County has at least eight Republican candidates running for Sheriff. Under the current primary rules, the winner could receive only 15% of the votes. Instead, this situation calls for a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

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    Your columnist’s family moved to Texas in 2012, and we immediately registered to vote in the Republican primary. Texas requires the primary winner to win a majority of votes cast, with a runoff if necessary. Ted Cruz, the candidate of grassroots conservatives and former Solicitor General of the Great State of Texas, was running in the primary for an open seat in the United States Senate. His opponent was Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, the establishment candidate. Dewhurst was a very successful business executive and co-founder of Falcon Seaboard, an oil field services company. He had a personal fortune to spend on his campaign. For years he had been making contributions to Republican clubs and similar groups statewide. He was favored by the Republican establishment of Texas, and it was an uphill battle for Cruz.

    At the beginning of the campaign by Cruz, a statewide poll found that his name recognition was around 2%, while the poll’s margin of error was 3%. Nevertheless, Cruz prevailed by speaking to grassroots conservative groups statewide, and by raising money from small donors. In the primary, Cruz came in second place, but he held Dewhurst under a majority. In the runoff, Cruz continued to build support, and won with 57% of the vote. This would not have been possible under the primary system in Florida.
    Your columnist’s wife Katrina Vidal volunteered for the Cruz campaign and made over 3,500 phone calls on his behalf. She says: “Things in the United States Senate would be far different than they are now, if Cruz had not been elected.”

    In Florida today, establishment candidates, often incumbents, are protected by the system that allows them to win the party primary without winning a majority of the votes cast. We have seen many cases where Republican leadership, in order to protect a favorite candidate, will encourage and fund a third candidate in order to siphon off protest votes against the establishment. The conservative challenger often finds that this third candidate, who appears to be an opponent of the establishment, but in reality is backed by leadership, attracts many protest votes. All votes against an incumbent constitute protest votes, but the power of those votes is dissipated when there is more than one challenger. This allows the establishment candidate to win without winning a majority of votes cast. Requiring a runoff between the top two vote-getters presents voters with a clear choice between the establishment and a challenger.

    Some conservatives (including Congressman Matt Gaetz, State Senator Blaise Ingoglia, and Lake County Republican Chairman Anthony Sabatini) have objected that a potential two rounds of primary elections will favor establishment candidates because they can raise more money from special interests. However, if conservatives want to run for office, then we must raise enough money to get our message out to the majority of Republican voters in our districts. Today that task is becoming easier with the growth of conservative digital media, such as this newspaper. Conservative candidates also have to allocate resources to election integrity efforts and potential litigation - - lawfare.

    In addition, Republican leadership should not interfere in party primaries. Instead, they should let the people choose, then support the winners of the primaries in the general election. As Mrs. Vidal proclaims: “It’s time to return elections in Florida back to the electorate.”

    Finally, this column does not support: (1) jungle primaries, which have no regard for party affiliations; or (2) ranked-choice-voting, which is more progressive nonsense.

    Long Live Liberty, Damn It!



    Eduardo Vidal

    Eduardo Vidal is a lawyer and political activist. His family brought him when he was nine years old from Cuba to the USA, but now the rule of law has been eroded in the USA as well, and we are turning into Cuba and the rest of Latin America.

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