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Arizona to switch to ‘jungle primaries?’

PHOENIX — California’s new “jungle primary” voting system, which allows for two candidates of any party to advance to the general election, will undergo its first major test Tuesday.

This is the first gubernatorial race under the new system in California and the second primary election ever. The system went into effect Jan. 1, 2011 but has only been tested once in 2012.

Under the new system, the top two candidates of all parties will move on to the general election.

“That might mean you get two Republicans running against one another in the general election,” Valley political expert Stan Barnes said. “It might mean you get two Democrats. It might mean you get one of each.”

Arizona voters tried but failed to pass a similar system around the same time as California, according Barnes.

“There’s not a lot that unites Republican diehards and Democratic diehards, but self-preservation does unite them and both parties feel threatened by a system that allows for everybody on the same ballot at the same time,” he said. “It threatens the current structure.”

Barnes said Arizona voters failed to pass a jungle primary a few years ago because both Democrat and Republican lawmakers worried they could lose their jobs to Independent candidates challenging incumbents.

Nevertheless, Barnes said he expects to see a similar top-two primary system in Arizona soon as more states follow in California’s footsteps.