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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Discussion topic: Supremes and the Top 2

A huge decision for this year's election came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The Top Two primary, which voters approved but the top political parties managed to block in the lower federal courts, is not unconstitutional, the Supremes said. At least, not on its face.

The voters had the ability to pass that law by initiative, and can be presumed smart enough to figure some things out, among them whether a candidate who claims to be a member of a party really is.

What this means isn't exactly clear yet, but at a minimum, it throws the state's August primary into a new dimension. Washington voters will go back to a single ballot, and will pick among however many candidates sign up for each elective position.

The top two advance to the general, whether it's one nominal Republican and one nominal Democrat or two claiming to be Republicans or two claiming to be Democrats or an alleged independent and an avowed Communist.

Most of the time, it's likely to be one candidate claiming allegiance to the Democrats and one espousing such to the Republicans. But not always.

One could envision a scenario this year, should there be several Republicans and several Democrats running for the open legislative seat in the Valley's 4th District, where the top two could be Republicans. Same thing could happen, except with two Democrats, should a similar primary lineup occur in central Spokane's 3rd District and create a general election between two presumable Ds.

And in any district where an incumbent is considered so safe that the opposing party doesn't mount a challenge, a third party candidate could advance.

But for the most part, the independents, Libertarians, Greens and Constitutionalists could be left out in the cold.

You can read the High Court's 33 page opinion here.
What do you think about the decision? Click here to add a comment.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.