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Scarnati to Push for Open Primaries in Pa.

State Sen. President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) is lending his support to opening up Pennsylvania’s primary elections to independent and non-affiliated voters.  

In a speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday Scarnati said he would introduce legislation to open up the primaries.  

Scarnati says his support for the change is in part because of shifts in both parties towards the extremes.  

“The extremes of the parties have taken over the primary process,” Scarnati said according to the Post-Gazette referring to the losses of state Sen. Randy Vulakovich to a candidate who branded himself as more conservative and of state Reps. Dom and Paul Costa to Democratic Socialist candidates.  

“I’m a conservative. But I don’t know that I fit the new brand of conservative. And I’m not sure some of the democrats fit the new brand of liberals,” Scarnati added according to State House Sound Bites.  

State House Majority Leader Dave Reed has also expressed support for changes to the way Pennsylvania conducts its primaries.

21 Responses

  1. Although I am opposed to open primaries if Senator Scarnati and Senator Costa, who is probably is the driving force behind this measure, want to allow independents to vote in party primaries, it would also make sense to permit independents to sign party nominating petitions. It would be very helpful to restore electoral competition in one party areas of the state like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and many rural townships and Boroughs where the out party lacks the critical mass of party registrants to gain enough signatures in most House, Senate and other local governmental legislative bodies to put their party candidates on the ballot

  2. So much paranoia. There’s no proof that people cross party lines to screw up an election. Opening primaries to independents will get more people into the voting process. Parties will still state their platforms, so that has nothing to do with opening primaries. On the contrary, opening primaries gives independents a chance to support platforms. It’s interesting to see so much short-sightedness on both sides. The fact is that most states allow open primaries and they don’t have problems. This is something that either party can also do. The party that does it first will engage many more independents. The party that resists will be giving the independents who could help them win the middle finger. Closed primaries are for control freaks and are used by top down leaders to maintain their power and control.

  3. The elites in both parties always want to change the rules of the game when they start losing control over the rank and file. The stunning primary election defeats of Randy Vulukovich, Paul Costa and Dominic Costa has thrown a real scare into the permanent incumbent class. Accordingly, they now want open primaries because they think it will benefit the political class’ hold on power. Therefore, that is why I am opposed changing our closed primary election laws to allow “independents” to vote in Democratic or Republican primaries. Vulukovich and the Costas had all of the advantages of incumbency and still lost because the most motivated portions of their own party’s electorate voted them out.

  4. Are Pennsylvanians really this stupid. Diluting the power of your vote in the primary will give you Democrat Lite candidates. Anyone who thinks open primaries are a good idea thinks John McCain was a good Presidential candidate. Think before you emote people!

  5. Senator, THAT’S your reason? Registered Dems and Repubs voted for change in those races. You think that would change if the primaries were opened up? You still need good people to run for public office. I am for opening up the primaries, but not for your myopic reason.

  6. Destroying the party system and pretending it is not an attempt to influence the rights of people to join into parties and select their own candidates is madness. Parties are not just about candidates they also have platforms that relate to social and economic issues, rights of corporations, workers and the unemployed, education, etc. Thus, this is just an attempt to pretend at reform in order to lessen the ability of people to have affiliation created to counter large scale intrusions by means of money instead of peoples natural tendency to join in biased political action of their choice.

    If people want to run let them reform the number of signatures to get them on the ballot and hold an independent primary election also.

    This is so obviously an attempt at disassembling the rights gained by means of having many groups affiliate in order to make strength for the mass.

    Sure allow more parties but don’t throw peoples right to be selective out because many choose to vote as a party for to gain power.

  7. I am a registered Libertarian. I also pay dues to the state and national Libertarian parties, as I am SURE the bloviators on here do for the GOP and Demos. But I could not vote in the primary. I understand the “Why.” But my tax money was used to pay for the primary. THAT, I do not understand. All primaries do is nominate rich people, renominate incumbents with large war chests, or nominate non-rich people beholden to rich people. Let the parties pay for the primaries, or let’s go back to nomination by privately paid party conventions. We all can still vote in November.

  8. Wow. Pa finally joins the modern civilized nation and opens its primaries to the biggest block of voters, Independents. Bravo Senator Scarnati, and its been a while since I’ve said that.

  9. While I’m against completely open primaries, I think it would be fine if PA used the semi-closed system that states like NJ use. Unaffiliated/Independent voters would be allowed to vote in primaries and choose which party’s primary they wish to vote in on primary day, but once they do that, their registration would automatically change to that party. It would then be incumbent on the individual to switch back (which as we know, takes “effort” and judging by our turnouts, voters barely put in the bare minimum effort to actually vote, let alone adjust their registrations).

    1. I could get behind that. I am mostly opposed to blanket primaries, but SCOTUS ruled those unconstitutional circa 2000. This problem is solved with same-day registration or automatic registration with same-day declarations of party affiliation.

      I am very much against the Limbaugh-Operation-Chaos-style attempts to interfere with a party’s primary. It’s unethical and undemocratic.

  10. REGARDLESS, only 18% of PA voters actually cast a ballot. That turnout is DISGUSTING and we as Americans should be ashamed.

  11. I am a registered independent but I agree with primaries being closed. Democrats should not decide what he R candidate will be and vice versa. Even still, shenanigans happen in PA primaries. Look at what Rendell pulled during his primary against Casey. Giving R’s 2 registration forms – 1 to re-register as a D to vote for him in the primary and another to register back as an R afterwards. He was very open about that.

    1. You’re an idiot. Stick to testifying against your own colleagues.

  12. What I fail to understand is if Scarnati, the guy who was initially upset with the newly drawn congressional districts by the Pa Supreme Court, is a-ok with the sloppy mess we currently call congressional redistricting but is all exercised about “open primaries.” This reminds me of the patient who was told by their doctor they had diabetes and a touch of acne. The patient responded, “Doc, are you going to get me a prescription for that pimple on my face?” Bottom line: Scarnati is doing the political two step and avoiding the real issue at hand–non partisan redistricting.

  13. Open primaries are the way the other side makes mischief: partisans vote the other party’s primary to stick them with the worst candidate.

    Scarnati doesn’t have a record of humanitarianism. I smell a rat.

  14. “The extremes of the parties have taken over the primary process.

    Well just the opposite happened in 2016 on the Dem side. Hillary won closed primaries and Bernie did better in open primaries.

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