Anthony Adams, Moderate Martyr

Anthony adams cropped
Anthony Adams

For those who dream of electing more independents and moderates to office, Anthony Adams represents an important test case.

Adams, a former assemblyman from Hesperia in Southern California's Inland Empire, became a moderate martyr after he voted for a 2009 budget deal that included temporary tax increases.

Adams was the target of violent language and a recall attempt that failed. But, as persona non grata within the Republican party, he chose not to run for a third and final term in the assembly.

Now, he has returned to elected politics -- but not as a Republican. He's running for a Congressional seat as a decline-to-state--California's category for voters who aren't members of any political party.

Adams is precisely the sort of candidate that backers of the new top-two primary system had in mind in pursuing it. The new primary puts all candidates, regardless of party, together on the same ballot, with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election.

As such, his campaign as an independent serves as a test of whether that system gives a boost to moderates.

My guess is that it won't --because decline-to-state voters, despite their increasing numbers, don't vote at nearly the same high rate as partisans.

It's a safe bet that Adams will be bested by one Democrat and one Republican. If that's the case, perhaps an Adams defeat will convince top-two primary backers to consider political reforms that would make more of a difference.

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