By Mark Wachtler
August 18, 2014. San Pedro, CA. (ONN) California’s notorious Top Two election system struck again. The process that was promised to open up elections to regular citizens has actually shut them out completely. The most immediate result is that all opposition candidates are basically left out of the state’s General Elections. The only way to get an opposition candidate onto the November ballot is to think outside the box. And that’s exactly what the Peace and Freedom Party did.
Adam Shbeita, Peace & Freedom candidate for US Congress in CA. Image courtesy of PeaceAndFreedom2014.org.
Top Two democracy
In a normal democratic-republic like the United States, there is just one election - the General Election in November. Sure, there are primary elections and party caucuses. But those are strictly party functions to determine who will represent each party in the General Election. The ‘top two’ system, adopted by California in 2012, co-ops the primary system and forces all candidates, including independents, opposition parties and even write-ins, to all run against each other in the State’s Primary Election.
Then, the top two vote-getters, and only the top two vote-getters, move on to a head-to-head race in November. The real world result is that no candidates other than Democrats and Republicans ever win a spot in the General Election. Independents and opposition parties have been completely shut out of the system. But a handful of candidates, including one from the Peace and Freedom Party, have taken advantage of the flawed system and found a way onto the General Election ballot.
Adam Shbeita for US Congress
When the California Board of Elections finally certified the results of the state’s June Primary Election, it was determined that 16 write-in candidates finished second in their respective races. In reality, the candidates saw that their own elected official was running un-opposed in the Primary and decided to mount a write-in campaign to grab the second spot in the November General Election. And they didn’t need to pay candidate filing fees or collect ballot access signatures to do it either.
One of those victorious write-in candidates is Adam Shbeita, Peace and Freedom Party nominee for US Congress. His General Election opponent will be incumbent Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA). Hahn is a liberal Democrat who publicly supports President Obama, California’s unions and the waves of illegal immigrants still coming across the US border. The last one isn’t surprising since the District Rep Hahn and Adam Shbeita will battle it out for is 70% Hispanic.
While Janice Hahn is a wealthy blonde-haired white woman, the Peace and Freedom Party’s Adam Shbeita is a working class man of color, just like the voters the two are campaigning to represent. Shbeita is a computer professional by trade and says he, “is running on a platform of peace, job creation and healthcare for all.”
On the issues
The Peace and Freedom Party candidate goes on to criticize 13 years of non-stop war saying, “Wars are eating up the budget for education and healthcare.” In response, Congress and President Obama have cut benefits for America’s senior citizens and the poor, while constantly increasing defense spending. To that, Congressional candidate Adam Shbeita says, “Stop balancing the budget at the expense of working men and women.”
When it comes to healthcare, Shbeita is a strong supporter of healthcare for all. And not Obamacare, aka Romneycare, which is little more than a law forcing all Americans to buy expensive insurance. The result is that America has more health insurance than before, but less healthcare and less money in their pockets. Adam Shbeita says he wants, “quality healthcare for all.” On the issue of immigration, Shbeita says he supports equipping immigrants with “appropriate documentation” and providing them with “real opportunities for citizenship.”
In other results from California’s Primary Election, anti-war activist and Peace and Freedom candidate for Governor Cindy Sheehan received 52,707 votes, finishing 7th out of 15 candidates. The Party’s candidate for US Congress in the 34th District, Howard Johnson, finished third but garnered 11.6% of the vote. Nathalie Hrizi, the party’s candidate for state Insurance Commissioner captured 212,991 votes but finished third. By comparison, Congressional candidate Adam Shbeita received just 5 write-in votes, but is moving on to the General Election. Welcome to ‘top two’ voting.
For more information on Adam Shbeita’s campaign for US Congress representing California’s 44th District, visit the Peace and Freedom Party candidate webpage.
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