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WA Lege Day 100: Axe falls on 2012 presidential primary

OLYMPIA -- The House turned thumbs down to the state's presidential primary next year in an effort to save some $10 million for Washington's general operating budget.

In a 69-28 vote, they voted Tuesday to suspend the 2012 primary. The Senate already voted to suspend the presidential primary, so the bill now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who's almost certain to sign it, considering she asked the Legislature to do this in the first place.

Although voters like the presidential primary enough to force the state into one through an initiative, the two major political parties have never been wild about it and continued to hold precinct caucuses, sometimes on the same day, sometimes not. Democrats have never used the primary results to award delegates, and Republicans have varied but never awarded more than half their delegates through the primary vote.

The state's Top Two primary, which narrows the field for the November 2012 general election, will still be held in August 2012. The state would hold a presidential primary in 2016 unless the Legislature passes a similar law in some future session.

The suspension of the presidential primary now creates a problem for the parties. They need a partisan primary to elect precinct committee officers, and this was the only partisan election scheduled for the next five years.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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