May 2016 presidential primary ballot
May 2016 presidential primary ballot

Leg­is­la­tion that would make Wash­ing­ton’s pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry usable by both major polit­i­cal par­ties for the first time in state his­to­ry cleared the Leg­is­la­ture today with an almost par­ty-line vote in the House of Representatives.

Engrossed Sen­ate Bill 5273, spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Sam Hunt, passed with a vote of fifty-four to forty-two, with two excused. The bill moves the the default date of the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry from the fourth Tues­day in May to the sec­ond Tues­day in March and puts the polit­i­cal par­ties in charge of draw­ing up the list of can­di­dates that will appear on their respec­tive bal­lots (instead of the Sec­re­tary of State).

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
ESB 5273
Pres­i­den­tial primary
Final Passage

Yeas: 54; Nays: 42; Excused: 2

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Bergquist, Callan, Chap­man, Cody, Davis, Doglio, Dolan, Enten­man, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Frame, Good­man, Gregerson, Hansen, Hud­gins, Jink­ins, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Klo­ba, Leav­itt, Lekanoff, Lovick, Macri, Mead, Mor­gan, Mor­ris, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pel­lic­ciot­ti, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Ramos, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Ryu, San­tos, Sells, Senn, Shew­make, Slat­ter, Springer, Stan­ford, Stonier, Sul­li­van, Tar­leton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Walen, Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Barkis, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Cham­bers, Chan­dler, Cor­ry, DeBolt, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Gildon, Goehn­er, Gra­ham, Grif­fey, Har­ris, Hoff, Irwin, Jenkin, Klip­pert, Kraft, Kretz, MacEwen, May­cum­ber, McCaslin, Mos­bruck­er, Orcutt, Rude, Schmick, Shea, Smith, Steele, Stokes­bary, Suther­land, Van Wer­ven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Ybar­ra, Young

Excused: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Reeves, Wylie

Bri­an Blake was the only Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to vote against the bill. No Repub­li­cans vot­ed for it, per­haps desir­ing to show sol­i­dar­i­ty with Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman, who want­ed a bill that would have man­dat­ed the inclu­sion of a mean­ing­less “straw poll” bal­lot” — a deal­break­er for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

In past pres­i­den­tial cycles, Wash­ing­ton State Democ­rats have exclu­sive­ly used cau­cus­es to allo­cate and select their nation­al con­ven­tion delegates.

The par­ty is now con­sid­er­ing incor­po­rat­ing a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry into its Del­e­gate Selec­tion and Affir­ma­tive Action Plan (DSAAP) for the first time ever.

If the par­ty’s State Cen­tral Com­mit­tee (WSDCC) choos­es a pri­ma­ry-cau­cus hybrid approach instead of an a par­ty-run cau­cus only approach, then cau­cus­es would be retained for del­e­gate selec­tion pur­pos­es, but the pri­ma­ry would be used to allo­cate del­e­gates to each can­di­date. A draft 2020 DSAAP is due to be pub­lished this week by the state par­ty, kick­ing off a thir­ty day pub­lic com­ment period.

In addi­tion to mov­ing up the default date and remov­ing the Sec­re­tary of State’s role in decid­ing which can­di­dates appear, ESB 5273 allows the par­ties to request the inclu­sion of an “Uncom­mit­ted” option on their bal­lots if they so desire.

(Under Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty rules, “Uncom­mit­ted” is a legit­i­mate pres­i­den­tial pref­er­ence, so the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty would like­ly take advan­tage of this pro­vi­sion if it choos­es a pri­ma­ry as its method of allo­ca­tion for 2020.)

Repub­li­cans have used the pri­ma­ry (when held) to allo­cate some of their del­e­gates. In 2016, they allo­cat­ed their entire del­e­ga­tion based on the pri­ma­ry results.

Sup­port­ers of ESB 5273 believe an ear­li­er date will ulti­mate­ly give Wash­ing­ton more influ­ence over who is nom­i­nat­ed… and give peo­ple a rea­son to turn out.

“A new pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry sys­tem would allow for greater vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion, expand­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ access to democ­ra­cy,” said Sen­a­tor Sam Hunt (D‑22nd Dis­trict), the bill’s prime spon­sor. “It will pro­vide Wash­ing­ton vot­ers with an easy and effec­tive way to par­tic­i­pate in the nom­i­na­tion of the next President.”

Hunt argues that a pri­ma­ry would be more inclu­sive, as cau­cus­es are often inac­ces­si­ble to those who work on Sat­ur­days or can­not find child­care, as well as mil­i­tary per­son­nel serv­ing over­seas and peo­ple work­ing or trav­el­ing abroad.

ESB 5273 pre­vi­ous­ly passed out of the Sen­ate with bipar­ti­san sup­port and is sup­port­ed by both of the state’s major polit­i­cal parties.

“This is a good move for the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State,” said Repub­li­can Chair Caleb Heim­lich, “to move our pri­ma­ry up so that our state is actu­al­ly relevant.”

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty made adop­tion of a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry reform bill that respects its First Amend­ment right of free assem­bly one of its leg­isla­tive action pri­or­i­ties for 2019 last Sep­tem­ber at its meet­ing in Spokane.

ESB 5273 now goes to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, who last Fri­day announced his can­di­da­cy for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion for Pres­i­dent. If signed into law, Wash­ing­ton will join Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, Mass­a­chu­setts, Alaba­ma and sev­en oth­er states hold­ing nom­i­nat­ing events in the first weeks of March.

The state retains the flex­i­bil­i­ty to change the pri­ma­ry date if agreed upon by a bipar­ti­san com­mis­sion includ­ing the lead­ers of the major par­ties, the state’s leg­isla­tive lead­ers, and the Sec­re­tary of State, cur­rent­ly Kim Wyman.

Wash­ing­ton State Democ­rats will make a final deci­sion on whether to uti­lize a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry for 2020 on April 7th when the WSDCC (which NPI’s Andrew Vil­leneuve is a mem­ber of) gath­ers in Pas­co for its spring meeting.

Adjacent posts

2 replies on “Washington State House sends bill to reform presidential primary to Governor Jay Inslee”

  1. Col­umn in Wednes­day Seat­tle Times by Dan­ny West­neat takes on the bill for allow­ing the par­ties to obtain mail­ing lists from the primary.

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