Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and proponents of Proposition 14 have asked a San Francisco Superior Court judge to let them intervene in a lawsuit to block the implementation of the voter-approved top-two primary system.
Opponents of the new system filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State to block Senate Bill 6, legislation directing the implementation of the top-two primary system. They argue several provisions, including one to void write-in votes, disenfranchise voters and minor party candidates.
Maldonado, represented by Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller and Naylor, the law firm that helped draft the measure, asked the court to allow him to step in and help defend the litigation. The Yes on Prop 14 campaign and the California Independent Voter Network are also requesting to intervene.
"I could not stand by and watch the transparent effort to undermine the voters' right to an open primary system," Maldonado said in a statement. "Voters were crystal clear that they wanted to change business as usual in Sacramento and the effort to derail Proposition 14 is not only without merit, it's more of the same political game-playing that has gridlocked the Capitol for years."
Gautam Dutta, attorney for the plaintiffs, opposed the intervention, saying it is the sole job of attorney general Jerry Brown to defend the state against the lawsuit.
Dutta wrote in a brief opposing the intervention that Maldonado and Proposition 14 proponents don't have legal standing to join the case "for a simple reason: they never waged a ballot campaign for SB 6, which was passed by the Legislature and not by the voters." He said he felt it was more appropriate for proponents to submit a legal brief outlining their arguments for the court to consider.
Maldonado said in an interview that intervening "allows us to be at the table and it allows us to be (involved) as the process is moving forward... we can present our evidence of why (implementing Proposition 14 as is) is important."
"I'm the one that was involved with this from the beginning. I'm the author of the bill and there's nobody more that was involved in the open primary than me," he said.
A hearing on the request has been scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado speaks at his Inaugural Address on May 4 at the Capitol's east steps in Sacramento. Hector Amezcua/ Sacramento Bee