Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Reed to auditors: Back to the open primary

Secretary of State Sam Reed has notified all county auditors that they are to hold a Montana-style, or open primary, this September, instead of a "top two" primary that I-872 called for:
It won't have a huge impact on this year's primary since only about eight counties have partisan primaries this fall, Reed said. Other counties have only races for city council, school board and other non-partisan offices. Reed said he already has notified county auditors, telling them to get ready for the change back to the Montana-style primary.
What does this mean? It means this year, wherever there are partisan races, you'll be required to pick a party's ballot - such as the Democratic or Republican ballots, and possibly the Libertarian ballot.

It also means that other minor parties such as the Green Party should have their ballot access restored.

In King County, it means that Carolyn Edmonds can now legitimately campaign for the real Democratic nomination. Ferguson's win on June 28th now amounts to nothing more then an endorsement by Democratic PCOs.

The same is true for Republicans Steve Hammond and Reagan Dunn, who are running against each other. Though the King County GOP endorsed Hammond at its convention last May, Reagan can now legitimately campaign for the nomination without being attacked by the rest of his party.

Reagan was delighted:
To get around the new top-two primary, the parties held recent nominating conventions to choose candidates for this fall's primary election ballot. Those selections apparently won't be needed in light of Zilly's ruling.

"It's going to be a good old-fashioned primary," said Republican King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who lost in the nominating convention for his County Council seat but was told yesterday by the party he now could run as a Republican. "I think this is a momentum-shifting event."
This is as it should be. The parties never wanted to move to a caucus and convention system - they just wanted a fair primary. With Zilly's rulling yesterday, we are granted another reprieve from the possibility of holding an unfair primary system.

Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt noted that the "top two" primary system is rare and that Washington is back in the mainstream with this ruling:
Berendt said the parties only want to bring Washington state's primary in line with nearly every other state in the country.

"What the judge did is he affirmed our right to choose our nominees and choose the individuals who represent our party on the ballot," he said.
We strongly concur.

Thomas Ahearne, an attorney who has litigated against several Eyman initiatives in the past, angered us by representing the state Grange and making this comment to the Seattle Times:
Ahearne said he hopes either Zilly or the 9th Circuit will stay yesterday's ruling during the appeal, which would mean a top-two primary could be used this September.
We strongly disagree. There should be no stay. There should be a permanent injunction against I-872 until the 9th Circuit reaches its own decision.

As to the permanent injunction:
He said the state and the Washington State Grange can file objections by July 27. The court then will rule on a permanent injunction against I-872.
It's our hope that the permanent injunction continues to block the state from conducting a "top two" primary. Washington should have a primary system that is fair and constitutional - not one that isn't.

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