Doesn't this defeat the purpose of a primary?
June 2, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Is it common practice to have a slate of official party endorsed candiates in a primary election?

My state (NJ) has its primary election tomorrow. I noticed on my ballot that there is a slate of candidates that have been endorsed by the offical party committee for my local area, and then there are other candidates that haven't been endorsed by the offical Party Powers-that be who are also running. Is this common practice that I've just never noticed before, or something very peculiar to the local branch of my political party? To explain further, the first column says something to the effect of, "regular party", with a slate of candidates under it. The next column says "candidate for change", etc. The label of "regular party" is where you would normally see party affiliation "democratic", "republican", etc., in a general election.

Having a slate of official party-endorsed candidates for a party primary election seems to defeat the purpose of having a direct primary election in the first place. Is this just another weird NJ-ism that I'm noticing as a recent transplant to this lovely state, or is this a common practice? Also, to clarify, I'm not talking about endorsements for a slate by, say, the local LWV that you might receive in a mailing. But rather, an official endorsement by the local party chapter powerholders for it's own primary election candidate of choice.
posted by jujube to Law & Government (6 answers total)
While it's perfectly common to have a mix of "party favorites" and other candidates on the ballot, I can't say I've ever seen them separated out the way you describe. In our primaries, they are all lumped together under whichever office they are running for with no indication if any of them are favored by the party machine.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:08 PM on June 2, 2008

Yes local parties endorse people in the primary. For example, the current mayor of Pittsburgh was endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee in his primary race against another Democrat. Sure, you can win that party's primary if you aren't endorsed, but as that article says:

Losing candidates can still run in the primary, but winners benefit from party get-out-the-vote efforts and get their names on slate cards and other literature.

Who votes to endorse? Members of the local party committee, which are usually on the ballot also when you vote in a primary.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:09 PM on June 2, 2008

New Jersey's not exactly known for being democratic and fair when it comes to politics anyway, but this happens in New York State as well.
posted by j1950 at 1:12 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is there a way you could upload a picture of the "ballot" you have seen? Is it a "slate card," which is mailed to party members and lists endorsed candidates, or did you actually see the ballot that will be presented in your voting booth/machine/etc? If it's a slate card, then it sounds like normal party politics. If it's the ballot, than that is strange as the ballot shown in the voting booth shouldn't say who's endorsed.

Remember, anyone can get on the ballot for a particular party. Lyndon LaRouche ran as a Democrat seven times even though he was never recognized by the party as an official candidate. This is why the party endorses, so their efforts can be focused on one candidate rather than anyone who decides to run as a Democrat (or Republican).
posted by ALongDecember at 1:16 PM on June 2, 2008

It's happening in New Mexico right now.

There are two Republican primary candidates fighting to get on the ballot for an open congressional seat. It has the potential to also be a major general election race, as the Dem side is also lining up an interesting candidate. The Republican party has already endorsed one, a man who is currently the sheriff of the state's most metropolitan county. He is sort of a good-guy, crime fighting doofus type. W even came here to raise money for him last week.

The other guy, a longtime state legislator who sort of plays the right wing nutjob bit, frequently reciting neocon talking points he's heard on Fox News and conspiring to embarrass the Dem governor and that sort of thing, has not raised nearly as much money, and subsequently has gotten little traction. He's angry that the Repubs' endorsement not only sunk his chances (which he didn't really have, only really old hyperconservatives actually like him), but broke the law. On Friday, he announced his intention to sue to stop the primaries, which are tomorrow.

Not much time left in which to get that done, though.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:56 PM on June 2, 2008

Thanks for the answers so far.
ALongDecember--yup, it's definately the ballot, albeit a sample one, and definitely NOT a slate card from the party. It's an exact paper reproduction of the electronic screen that voters see when they're in in the voting booth. It's identified as the "official primary election sample ballot," and sent by the county clerk's office with the address of my polling place, NOT sent out by my Party.
posted by jujube at 4:52 PM on June 2, 2008

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