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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bob Graham/George LeMieux column: In defense of bringing back Florida's second primary



The opinion page in today's Tampa Bay Times features a joint column by Bob Graham, a Democrat and former governor and U.S. senator, and George LeMieux, a Republican and former U.S. senator, calling for the return of Florida's second primary. Read the full column here. Below, an excerpt:

Good government in Florida has become prisoner to several self-inflicted electoral wounds. The cumulative effect is a less representative democracy with too many elected officials holding narrow views and the belief that to compromise is to surrender core values. Think of the debacle of the federal government's sequester.

One self-inflicted wound, which passed with inadequate attention, is the elimination of the second primary in the selection of party candidates. From 1899 to 2001, if no party primary candidate received a majority in the first election, there was a second primary between the two top vote-getters. In 2001 and 2003, the second primary was suspended for the following year's primary elections and permanently repealed in 2005. Cancelling the second primary has resulted in candidates with high name recognition or a strong appeal to a narrow constituency becoming a party nominee with a small fraction of the first and now only primary voters.

Florida's second primary system produced some of our state's most notable and respected public servants. If not for the second primary, LeRoy Collins and Reubin Askew may never have been governor, Lawton Chiles a U.S. senator, or Bob Butterworth an attorney general. They were all the runners up in the first primary but prevailed in the second. Indeed, Florida's 1978 gubernatorial race was won by a co-author of this article, who placed second in the first primary.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:57am]


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