After having all the good ideas-- light rail, death with dignity, public financing of campaigns, lax liquor laws-- Oregon is finally looking north for inspiration. On next month's ballot: an initiative to copy Washington's top two primary. And they're not just lifting our system, they're using us as guinea pigs too. "We've been watching Washington quite closely," says Yes on I-65 spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn. The biggest take-away from Washington's results in the inaugural August top-two primary was turnout, she adds. "Forty-three percent (statewide) is good," Glynn says, arguing that one of the best reasons for a non-partisan primary is to get more voters involved.
Oregon's even rehashing all of the old arguments we went through up here: the top two keeps third-party candidates out, is also detrimental to the major parties, and it limits voter choice. Despite the detractors' efforts, voters approved Washington's top-two system 60-40 in 2004. There was, of course, the protracted court battle with the parties. (Beware, Beaver State.) Glynn says polling there shows the numbers are close, around 50 percent in favor of I-65.