Skip to content

Courage Campaign Pushes California Legislature to Put Repeal of Top Two Primary System on November Ballot

CALIFORNIA — A new petition from the California-based Courage Campaign is calling on the California Legislature to put the repeal of the State’s Top Two primary system on the ballot in November.


“We may have averted disaster in California’s Congressional races this week, but it’s long past time for our state to drop the misguided, ineffective, and undemocratic Top Two primary system,” explained Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign. “California’s Top Two primary system was sold as a way of making our elections less partisan, but it has completely failed: it has made our elections less fair, less representative and increased the role of money in politics. While the system has resulted in a few progressive wins, the long-term problems far outweigh the benefits.”

The Top Two primary disadvantages candidates from every political party. There is mounting political pressure to drop it. Representatives as ideologically diverse as Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) have spoken out in agreement. Instead, the Top Two primary has given an advantage to those who raise money earliest in the cycle — most often corporate-backed or establishment candidates.

Until 2010, California’s primary elections operated like those in most other states, in which political parties run elections to nominate a candidate to represent their party in the general election. Then, California voters passed the Top Two primary, an idea championed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Under this system, all candidates run against one another, regardless of political party. The top two vote getters overall then advance to the general election.  

# # # # # fights for a more progressive California and country. We are an online community powered by more than 1.4 million members.

Courage California, formerly Courage Campaign, works to unite communities organizing for progressive change, fight the forces of corruption, and hold our representatives to account in order to ensure that California’s elected officials act with courage. Our community of members envision California as a model of progressive, equitable, and truly representative democracy that sets the standard for our country.


Angela Chavez