After weeks of discussion about moving Washington's too-late-to-matter presidential primary from May 27 to something several months earlier, a panel of top elected officials and party leaders convened under the Tiffany chandeliers of the state capitol reception room and...deadlocked.
Five Republicans, including Secretary of State Sam Reed, held out for Feb. 5 or maybe 12. Four Democrats thought March 18 makes more sense. And since approval required six votes, nothing was decided.
Democratic party representative Todd Nichols said March 18th makes the most sense because no other state holds a primary on that date. That makes it most likely that candidates will actually show up in Washington to stump for votes, Democrats at the meeting said.
"If we've got one punch, we want to use it in the right place," said state Democratic Party vice chair Eileen Macoll.
Republicans argued that the election of a party nominee will be largely over by mid-February next year. Having a mid-March primary will be largely irrelevent, almost like it is now, they said.
The relevance of the $9 million statewide vote, however, also revolves around what the state parties do in a few months. They can ignore the results of the public vote, instead allocating delegates on the basis of party caucuses in early 2008. Critics, like Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, say that leaves the small ranks of party faithful making the decision while the state's rank and file voters are ignored.