Tricky Senate special election looms

There’s something special about this Special Election.

Four candidates are competing for the job of State Senator, District 1, including one Democrat and three Republicans.

Old rules still govern this Special Consolidated Primary Election to fill the seat of the deceased Senator Dave Cox.

Voters will close an era of partisan history when they mark their ballots during the November election.
In June voters agreed to change those rules by approving Prop 14 which calls for open primaries to begin January 1. Meanwhile, the old-fashioned rules make for some interesting political speculation.

Even though this Senate election is a primary election, all candidates will be listed on every ballot. Each voter will select only one of the four. Any candidate who wins half-the-votes-plus-one becomes Senator. Endgame.

Things get tricky if no one wins a majority. Let’s say one candidate gets 49 percent of the vote and the others split the difference. By the old playbook, the winning Democrat would run against the winning Republican in January.

Even if one Republicans gets 49 percent of the vote, another gets 48 percent, and the Democrat gets only 1 percent, the Democrat would be listed on the ballot with only the top vote-getting Republican.
Under the new-fashioned rules starting in 2011, the top two vote-getters would do the running-off.
Applying the new rules to the example above, the 49 percent Republican would challenge the 48 percent Republican.

But that’s next year.