Sam Fields: Fla. Should Not Have Open Primaries







Of late there has been a growing movement to allow for “open primaries” in Florida elections.

For those of you not familiar with the concept it allows voters to vote in any party primary even if they have refused to join that party or any party.

The latest diatribe in favor of that idea appeared in a Sun-Sentinel opinion piece on November 25 by Martin Dyckman, a former associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He also supported “ranked-choice voting” where voters will indicate their second choice. If no one get 50% there is an instant runoff of the top two candidates.

While I strongly support the instant runoff, I couldn’t disagree more about open primaries.

In essence “open primary” stands for the proposition that there are people who don’t want to join a club but want to elect its leaders. Huh?

I might have more sympathy for the idea if joining or changing political parties was difficult to do.  It’s harder to get a library card. In some states you can change parties on election day and go back the next day.

Open primaries create their own mischief. In a situation where one party has no serious primary race it could encourage its members to vote for the weaker candidate in the opposing party primary.  

Proponents of open primaries like to cite to George Washington’s distrust and distaste of parties.  Sorry to say that along with owning slaves, Washington also got this one wrong.

Political parties are a legitimate expression of different philosophies and interests. England had Whigs and Tories before Washington was born. They were vehicles that allowed royalist/landowners (Tories) to organize their voice against urban/capitalists (Whigs).

Are there countries without competing political parties? Sure. Saudi Arabia and North Korea come to mind.

Are open primaries going to reduce corruption?  Think Louisiana.  I believe their license plates state: “HOME OF CORRUPTION”.

Let’s face it, there are many institutions where you have an interest but do not and should not have a vote.

County managers and Chief Judges come to mind.

How about Campbell’s Soup????

Right now, there is a bareknuckle proxy fight going on over control of the Board of Directors.   Notwithstanding that many reading this rant has consumed a Campbell’s product in the last 30 days, only shareholders like me get to vote.

Even more to the point is Florida Power and Light. We are all required to do business with them. But, unless we buy stock in their parent company NextEra Energy, we have no say in the leadership

Martin Dyckman might think that also needs to change.




12 Responses to “Sam Fields: Fla. Should Not Have Open Primaries”

  1. Sally Warren says:

    The current system disenfranchises the largest group of new registrations in Florida, which is NPAs or no party affiliation. Fields doesn’t care about that. The same people who complain about low voter turnout like Fields also support a system that does not allow these same people to vote in the primary.
    BTW, who is Fields and why is his opinion worth anything?

  2. HTP says:

    “Political parties are a legitimate expression of different philosophies and interests.”

    Yes, but there is almost nobody that agrees with everything either major party represent. Why should voters have to associate with Louis Farakan (Democrats) or Trump (Republicans) to vote in a primary? This is a new world of pick-and-chose like Netflix and small plate dining. And politics, sometimes Democrat, sometimes a Republican and sometimes a Green Party candidate. This guy is out of step with today.

  3. Recovering Catholic says:

    What a ridiculous notion. NPA serves those who think; and give consideration to multiple issues. I would be considered “far right” on every issue; including overturning Roe vs. Wade. However, I fully support gay marriage and object the exclusion of gays in the military. Like it or not, NPA is gaining more traction. Folks are voting for a candidate who BEST represents their values – not a party.

  4. Justin says:

    Sam our political parties serve the interests of the few, not the many. For different reasons our two main political parties are on free fall implosion paths. As for your England comparison, more often than not for English business to get done coalition amongst several parties needs to happen. The power needs to be taken away from our two central parties. Let’s make way for a more diverse point of view and to hopefully force compromise when multiple factions need to come together to form a “majority”.

  5. Harold Combs says:

    I agree with @3.
    Blind political allegiance in the past gave us great Democratic elected officials. Not!
    Brenda Snipes is just one example of what closed primaries give us.

  6. The Right thing says:

    Many states in the United States have some version of open primaries. They include Democratic states like Massachusetts, Republican states like Alabama and swing states like North Carolina and Ohio. They know it is right since most elections are decided in the primary due to gerrymandering.

  7. Old Timer says:

    As usual, Sam is out in ‘left’ field.

    The idea that a sham write-in candidate can close the election to 2/3 of the electorate is patently ridiculous. He seems to forget that after the election, the official is supposed to represent everyone … not just the political party to which they belong. So, everyone should have some say in the process through their vote.

  8. bob says:

    ” In essence “open primary” stands for the proposition that there are people who don’t want to join a club but want to elect its leaders. Huh? ”

    Yep, a private club that asks the taxpayers to fund its elections (unlike Campbell’s or FPL). And a private club has the temerity to tell those taxpayers that they cannot participate in a government function that they pay for.

    Great balls of brass.

    Send the Dems and GOP an invoice every other year for the cost of running a statewide election and see how fast they will declare that they are performing a public function and aren’t a private organization at all.

    But otherwise Sam, this piece a nice string of non sequiturs.

  9. Jean Churcherilla says:

    Could not disagree more.

  10. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    I like the way California does.They throw the whole bunch of them in one pile.Both Republican and Democrat then whomever has the most votes then the two( 2) battle in out in the General.U could have 2 Demos fighting for the win.Or it could be 2 Republicans or one of each.No BS write in canidates to close out Primaries etc.I like again the way California holds their election system.No what i get here is poltical pundits, campaign managers, wealthy business owners and land use attys.calling the shots.Me, i will take no money.I will hire no PAcs.There will be no campaign managers etc.Just the issues.PS.Im no Gavin Newsome( newly elected Cali) but i assure you my ideas, plans and incentives will be heard …

  11. Fair and Open Primaries says:

    Here is where you can find out more information about the movement to open primaries in Florida

  12. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says: