Assemblymember Bill Quirk said moderates like
Steve Glazer vote to keep people in jail.

LEGISLATURE | To the uninitiated, Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk may look like a standard-issue Hollywood curmudgeon, but the exterior often masks a warm, paternal manner. So, when Quirk, a Democrat, unleashed some intraparty venom towards State Sen. Steve Glazer recently, it was a bit out of character.

If there is one issue that rankles Quirk since joining the Assembly in 2013, it’s the state’s top two primary election system, and its help in elected moderates, but especially moderate Democrats, like Glazer.

As Alameda County Democrats gathered last week to issue their endorsement preferences for the statewide party, Quirk used his speaking time to rail against moderates, who, he said, are hindering the progressive agenda in Sacramento.

Glazer, who was elected last May, is making few
friends in the party’s progressive caucus.

“The top two allows more challenges from so-called moderate Democrats,” said Quirk, in reference to Glazer, a Democrat who won the special election last May in the Seventh State Senate District. Glazer, however, often labels himself a progressive, but labor unions loath him for his continuing stance against public transit employees and their right to strike.

Quirk, a member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, used as an example, the push by progressives for reform of the prison justice system is being stymied by a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats. Quirk said, “Glazer votes to put people in jail more.”

The criticism of the top two format is nearly identical to one Quirk lodged during his re-election in 2014 against two Republicans. During a candidate forum, he said,“We are getting more and more so-called New Democrats, moderate Democrats, and it’s getting very difficult now to get some very good legislation passed.”