Open Primary Leads to Familiar Faces in Congressional Race

Jun 7, 2012

Tuesday’s primary was the first test of California’s new top two vote getter law.  In the race for the Congressional seat that represents the Monterey Bay Area, the new system produced a familiar outcome. 

Republican Rancher Jeff Taylor and Democratic Congressman Sam Farr are the top two vote getters in the race for California’s 20th Congressional District.  The two men have run against each other twice before, except this time they will be the only two names on the November ballot.  Although he’s glad to be moving on to the general election, Farr is not a fan of this new top-two system.  “I think it’s denial of access to the democratic election process,” said Farr.  He says government should be transparent and have access, so without any third parties in this race.  “I don’t think we’ve denied transparency, we’ve just denied access for minority view points and I think that that can cause problems.  People feel like they can’t participate in the electoral process,” said Farr.

The win is also mixed for Republican Jeff Taylor.  While he’s comfortable with the top-two system, he didn’t exactly want to be one of the candidates moving on to November. “I truly believe that I got into this primary prematurely, and I realized that too late.  I was already on the ballot,” said Taylor.  Taylor is trying to sort out some personal financial issues; it’s his top priority.    So he tried to get off the ballot.  He encouraged the Republican Party to shift its endorsement.  And he tried to throw his support behind the other Republican running, but Taylor says that wasn’t enough to overcome his name recognition. So now under new the top two system – to give voters a choice, he has no choice, but to run.  “I do have friends and family that have come along side and they said, hey if you are still the second highest vote getter, we will come along side you. And we will help you, and support you in any way we can so that you can continue doing what you need to do.  And preferably it will get resolved, and I will be able to get into this campaign 100% myself which is what I would like to do,” said Taylor.  When he’s able to give this race 100%, Taylor says his strategy is to increase voter registration and turnout among evangelical Christians and people of faith in the district. We are going to have to get a lot of people registered and engaged.  It’s a huge goal, but I believe that’s the only way.  It might not be this election in 2012, but I hope and pray it is,” said Taylor.

Although anti-incumbent sentiment across the nation is high, neither Taylor nor Farr think that will have a noticeable effect on this race.  “You hear that all the time sort of the anti-incumbent, the low opinion of members of Congress.  Yet looking over these primary results in California just for the Congressional seats.  We have 53 Congressional seats for California,” said Farr.  44 of those 53 districts had an incumbent running, and in every one, the incumbent was in the top two, and is moving on to the general election.  I think people, they don’t like incumbents. They don’t like congress, but they’ve liked the person they’ve elected,” said Farr.  Sam Farr has represented the Monterey Bay Area in Congress for nearly two decades.