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Posts tagged: Top 2 primary

There’s a reason it’s called a political party

Washington’s Top 2 primary doesn’t just bring out a wealth of candidates. It brings out the creativity in some of those candidates as they list which party they “prefer.” Preference is a key part of the Top 2, because it doesn’t limit the general election field to one Democrat and one Republican, so no matter what party is listed on the ballot, if a candidate finishes first or second, he or she goes on to November. Finish third or worse and it’s “Later, gator.”
This year we have a candidate from the Human Rights Party running for secretary of state, candidates from the FDR Democratic Party, the Progressive Independent Party, the Employmentwealth Party and the 99% Party running for various Congressional seats (on the West Side, of course.) Lieutenant governor attracted the most creativity, with candidates inventing an Indep Republican Party, a Democracy Indep. Party and a Neopopulist Party. And there is the usual schism for between candidates who want to list Republican Party and others who want to list the GOP Party. The latter ignore the redundancy because spelling out the acronym would mean they prefer the Grand Old Party Party.
Or they just really like to party.

Day 5 Filing Week: A long ballot for Aug. 7

OLYMPIA – Washington’s primary ballot got longer and more interesting before elections offices closed for filing Friday afternoon.

Spokane-area ballots will have nine candidates for governor, eight for U.S. Senate, seven for secretary of state, six for lieutenant governor, five for a Spokane legislative seat, four for Eastern Washington’s 5th District congressional seats. No partridges or pear trees, though.

Many of the candidates for major offices are well-known, and have been campaigning for months. Some entering the field this week are perennial candidates who regularly file for something, but rarely make it past a primary. Mike the Mover, owner of a Seattle area moving company who legally changed his name to reflect his occupation, filed this year for Senate, as did Will Baker of Tacoma and Glen Stockwell, a Ritzville resident who has tried legislative campaigns in the past.

The Aug. 7 election is a Top 2 primary, which means the candidates with the most, and second most votes move on to the general, regardless of party. Candidates say which party the prefer, but that doesn’t signify party support, or even recognition.

That means some races in November could match two Democrats or two Republicans. It also means candidates are free to describe their party preference in creative ways, to make up parties, or say they have no party preference at all.

For a list of candidates appearing on Spokane-area ballots in the primary, and their stated party preference, go inside the blog.

Day 5 Filing Week: Waite drops out on the final day

OK candidates, it's down to the wire. You have until 5 p.m to file for statewide office, and 4 p.m. to file for an office with a district that is solely within Spokane County.

As we approach the deadline, the field for one of the races got smaller. Spokane businessman John Waite posted on Facebook that he was dropping out of the 3rd District primary for an open state House of Representatives position. Waite said he was throwing his support behind Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder.

That leaves three Democrats — Bob Apple, Marcus Riccelli and Snyder — as well as Republicans Tim Benn and Morgan Oyler, in that race.

For a list of all candidates filed for offices on Spokane-area ballots as of 3 p.m., go inside the blog.

Day 2 Filing Week: As the day starts

OLYMPIA — Filing week continues today for all the political offices on the Aug. 7 Top 2 primary ballot. Unlike Monday, when there was the traditional rush into the elections offices by anxious candidates, Tuesday started slower.

Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Joe Schmick, Republican incumbents in southeast Washington's 9th Legislative District, filed this morning. Overnight, Republican Art Coday filed electronically for U.S. Senate.

Yes, you actually can avoid the trip to the county elections office or Secretary of State's office, save time and gasoline, by filing online. (Click here for details.) You can sell yourself as the sensible, efficient, environmentally friendly, tech savvy candidate. But you miss the chance to turn your filing, which is really just a clerical exercise, into a campaign event.

Speaking of which, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, will be chatting with reporters on the north steps of the Capitol this morning after filing his forms and paying the fee.

For the latest list of candidates for offices on Spokane-area ballots, click here to go inside the blog.

U.S. Supreme Court asked to overturn state primary

OLYMPIA — The state's Democratic and Libertarian parties are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to do what lower courts have refused: Throw out the state's Top Two primary system.

The two parties have asked the nation's top court to hear arguments on the state's primary system, which has all candidates for all offices on a single ballot and lists candidates by the party they say they “prefer”. The two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election, regardless of party preference.

The Supreme Court would be the last stop in a long battle the parties have waged over the way Washington conducts its primaries. For more than a half-century, Washington operated what was known as a blanket primary, where all candidates for all offices appeared on a single ballot, and voters could select on candidate from any party for each office. When those ballots were tallied, the Democrat and Republican candidate for each office advanced to the general election, as did minor party candidates and independents who crossed a threshhold for a minimum number of votes.

Washington voters don't register by party, and the major parties argued that meant people who weren't their members were choosing their nominees. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar law in California for violating constitutional protections of freedom of association, and the Washington parties won a court challenge to their state's law in 2003. Voters approved an initiative for the Top 2 primary, which was also challenged in court, and while the court case was pending, primaries in which voters had to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot or nonpartisan ballot if there were nonpartisan races or measures in the same election.

Eventually the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 the Top 2 primary was, on its face, constitutional. But it left open the possibility that it could be administered in a way that was unconstitutional. The parties challenged the way the primary ballot identifies a candidate's party preference, arguing they don't have an adequate way of objecting to a candidate who claims to be associated with them, and that voters might be confused that listing of party preference indicates the candidate is a member of the party.

That challenge failed with a U.S. District Court judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ballot contains a disclaimer that a candidate's preference does not necessarily have the support of that party, and the appeals court said that was enough. The parties are saying, however, there wasn't any evidence in front of the appeals court to show “that voters read or understand the disclaimer or that doing so would affect voter perceptions of the candidate-party association.”

Secretary of State Sam Reed defended the Top 2 primary as a way for state residents to vote for the person, not the party label. “I hope the Supreme Court will decline to take the case, and will acknowledge that we followed to court's roadmap for how to conduct the primary as a nonpartisan, winnow election that puts the voter in the driver's seat.”

The state Republican Party had been involved in the previous court cases, but is not part of the latest effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, which is a request for a writ of certiorari.


9th Circuit: WA primary system OK

OLYMPIA — Washington state's current primary system which has candidates stating their party preference rather than a party affiliation and sends the top two vote-getters to the general election is constitutional, a federal appeals court said today.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by Washington's Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties that the system infringes on their First Amendment rights of association. There's no proof that voters are confused by it, the court ruled.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Primary over. Lessons learned?

Thousands of votes are still to be counted from Tuesday’s primary, but along with most races, some lessons are clear.
Lesson 1: It may be uncomfortable to be an incumbent this year, but it’s not fatal. Few incumbents were eliminated in the state’s unusual Top Two primary, but some clearly have their work ahead of them.
Count among them state Sen. Chris Marr, a Spokane businessman who received party acclaim four years ago as the first Democrat to win the seat in Spokane’s 6th District in six decades, but trails GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner in this primary.
Or ask Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, a three-term Republican incumbent who faced two party challengers and finished second to Democrat Frank Malone.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and most sitting House members had an easy primary night, five-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen is trading the lead with Republican challenger John Koster in northwestern Washington’s 2nd District.
For all the knock against establishment candidates…

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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