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Independent candidates to highlight new top-two election system

April 19, 2012 | 12:41 pm

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This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Some of California’s newly minted political independents are gathering in San Diego on Thursday to tout the state’s new open primary system and the growing importance of voters who are not affiliated with a state-recognized party.

The ranks of so-called “decline to state” voters have grown quickly in recent years and they now make up about 21% of the state’s registration. (Democrats account for almost 44% and Republicans about 30%.)

Independent voters have the opportunity for additional clout in the June 5 primary, in which every voter gets the same ballot listing all the candidates and from which the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.

A news conference late Thursday afternoon at the University of San Diego Law School is sponsored by the law school’s Independent Voter Club and the Independent Voter Project, which spearheaded the efforts for an open primary for California.

Among those non-affiliated candidates scheduled to speak at the news conference are congressional candidates Chad Condit, son of former Democratic Rep. Gary Condit, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks and Jack Doyle, a former mayor of Santee. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who recently dropped his Republican affiliation and is running for mayor of San Diego, also is scheduled to participate, as is Democratic Rep. Bob Filner, who  also is a candidate for the nonpartisan San Diego mayor post.

Former state legislator Steve Peace, founder of the Independent Voter Project and a driving force behind the top-two primary — approved by California voters as Proposition 14 in 2010 — said the news conference was part of a campaign to call attention to the new system and encourage voter turnout.

For the record, 1:10 p.m. April 19: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to former Rep. Gary Condit as a Republican. Condit represented California's 18th District as a Democrat.

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--Jean Merl

Photo: Former state legislator Steve Peace in 2000. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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