Everyone thinking about running for political office this year, take note: You have less than a week to make up your mind. Everyone talking about running and acting like they’re already a full-fledged candidate, take note: It’s not official until you file your paperwork and pay your fee.
Candidate filing week starts Monday morning, and ends when the office where that paperwork and fee must be deposited closes on Friday. Here’s a tricky part – because of budget cutbacks, some county elections offices close as early as noon on Fridays, others at 4 p.m., and some stay open until 5 p.m. Anyone planning to wait until the very last minute to build suspense would be wise to make a phone call to the appropriate office and check when that last minute is.
For some positions that’s the county elections office in the county seat; for others, it’s the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia. How do you know what goes where?
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-- If it’s a county office, like board of commissioners or Superior Court judge, file at the county elections office, usually located at or near the county courthouse.
-- If it’s a legislative office for a district that’s only in a single county, in the Spokane area, that’s the 3rd, 4th and 6th Legislative District, that also is filed at the county elections office, which in Spokane is at 1033 W. Gardner.
-- If it’s a legislative office for a district that spans more than one county, in Spokane and Eastern Washington, that’s the 7th and 9th Districts, that’s filed in Olympia at the Secretary of State’s office.
-- If it’s a statewide office or a congressional office, that, too, is filed in Olympia.
-- If you want to run for president, it’s an entirely different process, and you’re starting way too late. Start thinking about 2016.
It’s also possible to file online, by going to the county website for those offices, www.spokanecounty.org/elections in Spokane County, or the secretary of state website for multi-county or state races at www.sos.wa.gov/elections and clicking on Candidates & Campaigns.
Most offices require the candidate to pay a filing fee which is 1 percent of the job’s annual salary. The most notable exception is the precinct committee officer position, which receives no pay and requires no fee.
After some haggling between the parties and state elections officials, PCO races will be on the Aug. 7 primary ballot if a precinct has two or more candidates from a party filing for that office. If only one person files for a party’s PCO slot in that precinct, that person gets the job without showing up on the ballot.
Because the primary has been moved up to Aug. 7 to help the state meet new federal voting rules, filing week is earlier than ever. But some voters might be surprised it hasn’t already happened, considering many would-be office holders have been campaigning for months, or in the case of some members of Congress, years.
A partial list of already announced candidates for the primary election includes:
U.S. Senate: Incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republicans Mike Baumgartner and Art Coday
U.S. House in Eastern Washington’s 5th District: Incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Rich Cowan
Governor: Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna plus a handful of lesser known candidates.
Lt. Governor: Incumbent Democrat Brad Owen and Republican Bill Finkbeiner
Attorney General: Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Robert Ferguson
Spokane County Commissioner District 1: Incumbent Republican Todd Mielke and Democrat John Roskelley
3rd Legislative District Senate: Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Nancy McLaughlin
3rd District House Position 1: Republican Tim Benn and Democrats Bob Apple, Marcus Riccelli, Jon Snyder and John Waite
4th District House Position 2: Incumbent Republican Matt Shea and Democrat Amy Biviano
6th District House Position 1: Incumbent Republican Kevin Parker and Democrat Wayne Spitzer
6th District House Position 2: Democrat Dennis Dellwo and Republicans Jeff Holy, Larry Keller and Ben Oakley
Many of them have already filed campaign spending reports with the state Public Disclosure Commission or the Federal Election Commission, but until they file their declaration of candidacy and fee, they aren’t on the ballot and sometimes drop out. State Sen. Lisa Brown recently announced she wouldn’t seek another term, even though she’d raised some $155,000 and scheduled a campaign kickoff.
Some people either keep their plans quiet or decide at the last minute to run. The field for the state primary is never really set until Friday afternoon of filing week.