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, January 28, 2006

Democrats elect Dwight Pelz as State Chair

It's been a long day - and it certainly was a long meeting this afternoon, as the Washington State Democratic Central Committee met to decide who would be the state party's new leader.

I was there, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to hear the candidates in person and talk face to face with Democratic leaders and activists.

I'm going to post a more detailed writeup later, but here's a brief recap regarding the election itself.

First, as the headline of this post makes clear, Dwight Pelz is indeed the new Chairman of the State Democratic Party. Under the state party's rules, a candidate for party office needs a simple majority to win (so 50% + 1). This often requires voting on more than one ballot, as was the case today.

Voting on the first ballot began at about 3:30 PM. The result of this vote was announced just after 5 PM, and was as follows:

Dwight Pelz: 82 votes
Laura Ruderman: 69 votes *
Jean Brooks: 13 votes

165 pieces of paper were submitted with votes on them. One ballot was declared invalid because it was a proxy that had been submitted by email. With the invalid proxy thrown out, the simple majority threshold was reduced to 83 (from 84). (Also note that one of the Central Committee members abstained on the first ballot and did not submit a vote, but this didn't affect the threshold).

But here's where things got interesting. The asterisk next to Laura's vote count is referencing the fact that one of the ballots cast for Laura was challenged. The ballot (which was a proxy) was legitimate but it was cast with special instructions: the vote was to go to Mark Hintz if he was a candidate, but if not, then the vote would go to Laura. The debate was whether the ballot should be accepted or thrown out under party rules.

Ultimately, the Central Committee as a body voted almost unanimously to accept the ballot. The acceptance of the ballot meant that the threshold for winning a simple majority was not lowered to 82 votes (which would have meant a Pelz victory) and thus a second ballot became necessary.

The votes on the second ballot were announced not long afterwards, and the results were as follows:

Dwight Pelz: 95 votes
Laura Ruderman: 70 votes

And that is that. The state Democratic Party has a new Chairman, and it will be Dwight Pelz's responsibility to ensure that the state party is successful in the 2006 elections cycle - not only on the state and local levels, but also in federal races, which have added importance this year.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I'll have more to say shortly when I post a more detailed recap. I hope to have that completed before the day is over.

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