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Third Parties May Benefit In Special Election Today

There’s a special election today in California’s 10th congressional district, an area just to the east of San Francisco Bay that includes the communities of Fairfield, Walnut Creek and Livermore. It’s a more progressive district than most, and that makes the stakes of today’s election particular interesting.

jcliffordIt’s a primary election taking place today, after all, not a general election. The way these elections work in California is that it’s possible for one candidate to emerge to claim the seat, being vacated by Democrat Ellen Tauscher, without a general election taking place. For that to happen, however, the top candidate has to get more than 50 percent of the vote. If that doesn’t happen, the campaign moves on to a general election on November 3rd.

With the general election, only the top vote-getter from each political party progresses. Right now, there are five Republicans and five Democrats competing for votes, plus one American Independent Party candidate, one Peace and Freedom Party candidate, and one Green Party candidate. The existing third party candidates will all go on, so long as no candidate gets a majority vote today. However, only one Republican and one Democrat can continue.

The result will be that the alternative party candidates, particularly Green Party candidate Jeremy Cloward and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Mary McIlroy, will be able to gain much more attention than they have in the current crowded field.

So, as much as you may wish to pay attention to which candidates gets the most votes in the election results that come out late tonight, equally important is the question of whether any candidate can summon a majority. Given the large number of candidates, I’m guessing that’s not a likely outcome.

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