Cross-Party Meddling

CALIFORNIA'S Republican primary on Tuesday was an object lesson in the power of money - Democratic money.

Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, spent some $10 million on negative ads against one GOP candidate in the primary, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. A liberal Republican who might have given Mr. Davis a good ride in the fall election, Mr. Riordan ended up losing big to the more conservative candidate, Bill Simon.

California's GOP voters were probably so turned off by such manipulation that the turnout for the primary was at a historic low - 36 percent.

Such cross-over meddling in another party's primary bodes ill for the nation's politics, assuming California still sets trends for the nation. Will the two parties now seek even more campaign donations in order to compete in the other parties' primaries? Think how much more politicians would be beholden to their benefactors.

All the more reason for Congress to pass the campaign-finance reform bill and set a federal standard. The bill before the Senate would bar issue/attack ads within 30 days of a primary and 60 days before a general election (except for ads by political action committees).

Such remedies are needed quickly to help repair voter apathy.

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