May 2016 presidential primary ballot
May 2016 presidential primary ballot

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty today released the list of can­di­dates who have qual­i­fied to appear on the bal­lot in the state’s ground­break­ing 2020 pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry on March 10th. The list is as follows:

  • U.S. Sen­a­tor Michael Ben­net of Colorado
  • For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden
  • For­mer May­or of New York Michael Bloomberg
  • U.S. Sen­a­tor Cory Book­er of New Jersey
  • For­mer South Bend May­or Pete Buttigieg
  • For­mer U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Delaney of Maryland
  • U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tul­si Gab­bard of Hawaii
  • U.S. Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • For­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Deval Patrick
  • U.S. Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Bil­lion­aire activist Tom Steyer
  • U.S. Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren of Massachusetts
  • Entre­pre­neur Andrew Yang

Two oth­er can­di­dates (Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris and the for­mer Sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment, Julián Cas­tro) sub­mit­ted the required paper­work to appear on the bal­lot, but recent­ly dropped out of the race. They asked the state par­ty to remove their names from the bal­lot after sus­pend­ing their cam­paigns. Since drop­ping out, Julián Cas­tro has endorsed Eliz­a­beth Warren’s candidacy.

Wash­ing­ton will hold its pri­ma­ry on March 10th, along with Michi­gan, Mis­sis­sip­pi and Mis­souri. Many polit­i­cal observers believe this tim­ing will place Wash­ing­ton at the cen­ter of a cru­cial moment for the nom­i­na­tion quest.

Nor­mal­ly, mid-March pri­maries are total­ly over­shad­owed by Super Tues­day (which is sched­uled for March 3th). Super Tues­day sees can­di­dates com­pete for a gigan­tic haul of del­e­gates from four­teen states (includ­ing two of the largest states, Texas and Cal­i­for­nia), and sub­se­quent vot­ing days often feel anti­cli­mac­tic by comparison.

How­ev­er, a cou­ple of fac­tors make 2020’s post Super Tues­day nom­i­nat­ing events more impor­tant than they might oth­er­wise be.

First is the unprece­dent­ed num­ber of can­di­dates on the bal­lot, which will like­ly dilute the effect of the Super Tues­day del­e­gate haul. As a cam­paign strate­gist inter­viewed by Politi­co put it, “We’ve nev­er had a sit­u­a­tion where we get past Super Tues­day and there’s still five peo­ple in the field.” If, as seems like­ly, five or more can­di­dates get through March 3rd and still have a shot at win­ning, the com­pe­ti­tion between them for the remain­ing states (such as Wash­ing­ton) will be espe­cial­ly fierce.

Sec­ond is the pres­ence of bil­lion­aire and for­mer New York May­or Michael Bloomberg, who decid­ed to enter the race only a few weeks ago.

While most of the can­di­dates in the field have gone out of their way to denounce the cor­rupt­ing influ­ence of mon­ey in pol­i­tics, Bloomberg has decid­ed to embrace it ful­ly, pour­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars from his vast per­son­al for­tune into adver­tis­ing, and hir­ing armies of paid cam­paign workers.

Bloomberg has delib­er­ate­ly cho­sen to avoid cam­paign­ing in the ear­ly states of Iowa and New Hamp­shire – which are seen as a prov­ing ground for grass­roots cam­paign strate­gies – and set his sights on Super Tues­day states, where he can rely on his vast finan­cial reserves to blow the com­pe­ti­tion out of the water on the adver­tis­ing front in expen­sive media mar­kets such as California.

Bloomberg’s expect­ed adver­tis­ing and media dom­i­nance in the Super Tues­day states has led oth­er, less well-fund­ed cam­paigns to seek alter­na­tive routes to vic­tory, and it seems like­ly that Wash­ing­ton and its fel­low March pri­ma­ry states will get a lot of atten­tion from these candidates.

Washington’s vot­ers will receive their bal­lots by mail, and the eigh­teen-day vot­ing peri­od will begin on Feb­ru­ary 21st, last­ing until 8 PM on March 10th.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has nev­er before used a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry to allo­cate its nation­al con­ven­tion del­e­gates, so this pri­ma­ry will be his­toric. The par­ty will still hold cau­cus­es in April and May for the pur­pos­es of del­e­gate selec­tion and par­ty­build­ing. The first cau­cus­es will take place on Sun­day, April 26th, at 1 PM in urban and sub­ur­ban leg­isla­tive districts.

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