For those wondering what the Incumbent Protection Act is, it is a law that allows incumbent members of the General Assembly to choose the method of their renomination. In almost all cases, this means the incumbent chooses a state-run open primary. Reasons vary for this, but generally it is understood that incumbents have a greater advantage in a primary because they are costlier and, in cases like Hanger’s, because they can be used to shield Republican incumbents from being held accountable to their own party because the law allows Democrats to participate in choosing the Republican Party’s nominees. More background can be found here.
Hanger has huge problems with his base for his penchant for voting like a Democrat, such as in his support for Medicaid expansion and his glowing endorsement of the Obamacare individual mandate. But, obviously, such stances can win him support from among Democrats. In places like the 24th District, the Republican primary is really the only game in town, so bringing these Democrats to the polls to choose the Republican nominee is really a no-brainer for the challenged Republican incumbent (and, in some instances, desperate long-shot candidates as Shaun Kenney notes here).
Below is a snippet of a radio ad run by Hanger wherein he notes that “this is probably your only chance to vote for State Senate this year” because there are no Democrat or Independent candidates filed, and that the primary election is open to all registered voters, not just Republicans.
This is reprehensible. (Moreover, when proponents of state-run open primaries talk about all the great data these events supposedly generate they conveniently omit mention of all of the bad data they generate as well, i.e., all the “Republican” primary voters who aren’t Republican, and all of the wasted mail and other resources expended on reaching these folks to enlist them in the Republican cause). And this is why Dan Moxley and local Republican officials are suing to overturn the Incumbent Protection Act. I hope they’re successful, both in tomorrow’s primary and in the courtroom later this summer.