But the Legislature's leaders don't want the measure to pass and are now opposing it. The move won Maldonado a friend in Schwarzenegger, however, and the governor nominated him for the vacant lieutenant governor post.
The confirmation process quickly descended into a partisan fight.
"They came at me from all sides, and it was all driven by the party bosses," Maldonado said of the roughly 150 days he spent in limbo, waiting for confirmation. "But with the open primary initiative, you would only be accountable to the people."
While politicians debate the measure's possible effect, many academics wonder if it would have any noticeable effect. Bruce Cain, a professor of political science at UC Berkeley, said he expected the major parties and big donors would adapt quickly and make sure they have only one credible candidate in each primary.
"As a social scientist, I'm glad that California wants to do another experiment; it generates more papers and more studies," Cain said. "But I share the prevailing skepticism of my profession that any significant change will come about."