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 full-fledged candidates, 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 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? Here are a few general rules:
• 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. Spokane’s elections office is at 1033 W. Gardner Ave.
• If it’s a legislative office for a district that’s only in a single county, that also is filed at the county elections office. In the Spokane area, that includes the 3rd, 4th and 6th legislative districts.
• If it’s a legislative office for a district that spans more than one county, that’s filed in Olympia at the secretary of state’s office. In Spokane and Eastern Washington, that includes the 7th and 9th districts.
• 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.spokane county.org/elections in Spokane County, or the secretary of state website for multicounty or state races at www.sos.wa.gov/ elections and clicking on Candidates & Campaigns.
Most offices require the candidate to pay a filing fee that is 1 percent of the job’s annual salary. The precinct committee officer position 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 officeholders have been campaigning for months, or in the case of some members of Congress, years.
Here’s a partial list of already announced candidates for the primary election:
• 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.
• Lieutenant 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 these candidates have already filed campaign spending reports with the state Public Disclosure Commission or the Federal Election Commission, but until they file their declarations of candidacy and fees, 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.