On politics in the Golden State
February 23, 2011 | 1:49 pm

Adding a new wrinkle to the already-hot-though-still-unofficial contest to replace retiring Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), a minor-party candidate has filed suit in federal court over California’s new “top two” elections system.

Venice resident Michael Chamness alleges the new system will give one of the most prominent candidates, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, an edge because Chamness will not be allowed to list his political affiliation on the ballot and instead will be designated as having “no party preference.” Chamness’ “coffee party” is not among those recognized by the state.

Chamness also complained about the system during his unsuccessful run for a state Senate seat in last week’s special election. Under the new system, approved by voters last year, all candidates appear on a single ballot and the top two vote getters advance to a runoff, regardless of political party. (Special elections can be decided in the primary if one of the candidates wins a majority.) Candidates have the option of listing a party preference or not.

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