'Sore Loser Laws' Are Ruining Elections

Mickey Edwards on how little-known laws are undermining democracy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2014 1:08 PM CST
'Sore Loser Laws' Are Ruining Elections
Texas' 'sore loser' law ensured that Ted Cruz didn't have to face David Dewhurst in a general election.   (FORT WORTH WEEKLY, 360 WEST)

How did an extremist like Ted Cruz make it to the Senate? Well, he got a lot of help from a little-known phenomenon known as the "sore loser" law, writes Mickey Edwards at the New York Times. These laws, which are on the book in some form in 44 states, ban failed primary candidates from running in the general election as independents. These anti-democratic laws "are arguably even more insidious than partisan redistricting," Edwards writes, because at least redistricting doesn't affect Senate races.

Cruz, for example, narrowly defeated the popular and relatively moderate David Dewhurst in a primary in which only 630,000 of Texas' 23 million people voted. "Given that Texas is virtually a one-party state," that essentially sent Cruz to Washington. If Texas hadn't had a sore loser law, Dewhurst could have run as an independent—much as Joe Lieberman did when liberals tried to oust him. This isn't about electing moderates, or reviving losers' careers. It's about "giving voters the fullest range of choices. … Under sore-loser laws, the real loser is the voters." Click for the full column. (More sore loser laws stories.)

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