Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Third Party Summit on Elections

As previously announced here this past Saturday a group of about 50 persons representing several of the third parties in Washington met in Bellevue to discuss matters of common interest. Guests of honor included Shane Hamlin of the Secretary of State's office, another SOS staffer whose name I forget and Don Whiting representing the Washington State Grange.

Hamlin was there to help explain the current status and proposed changes to the law of elections in Washington State. Essentially, the Louisiana type primary is here for this election cycle at least and the legislature is still trying to figure out how to make it work. Given the order in which things happened over the last year (first the blanket primary is thrown out by the courts; the Louisiana primary initiative--I-872--hits the streets; the legislature passes a compromise bill; Locke vetoes about half of the compromise; then I-872 is approved by the voters) there are significant problems to work out.

First, I-872 left the minor party nominating convention statutes in place, and they are in direct conflict with I-872, which allows any major or minor party candidate access to primary ballot without a nominating convention. Second, the elimination of the major/minor party distinction has collateral effect in several areas, among them the precinct committee officer regime and the post filing week nominating rights of major parties. Third, since the purpose of I-872 is to remove political parties from the process but also allows candidates to declare a party "preference" nobody has figured out how to assure the "preferences" are meaningful except by reference to political party, or how to prevent a candidate from listing her "preference" as "Democratic Libertarian Republican," which in turn renders the entire purpose of the initiative constitutionally suspect. Hamlin reported, essentially, that nobody has figured any of this out yet.

I can't for the life of me understand why Whiting was there, or why he was invited. Nonetheless, he did his best to paint a rosy picture of the circumstance, pointing out, for instance, that all current minor party office holders were elected in a "top two" system. What he didn't say was that each of those elections was actually for non-partisan office. Even so, this didn't go over very well, as most in attendance felt strongly that I-872 is near fatal to all third parties. After about an hour of what had turned into the Don Whiting Show (Whiting answered most of the questions and the SOS representatives said very little) the crowd started getting nasty. To his credit, summit organizer Tom Stahl called a time out and moved on the agenda to allow representatives of each of the third parties to address the group.

Once again I found myself defending the LPWS involvement in the blanket primary suit against a few who thought we were "cozying up" to the Ds and Rs. Once again I explained, self-preservation drove the LPWS' participation. After California's blanket primary was invalidated, it was only a matter of time before Washington's blanket primary was invalidated as well. The 1% rule was still on the books and did not make sense except in a blanket primary context. The LPWS wanted a "seat at the table" when the remedy was worked out. Unfortunately, the federal district court judge refused order any remedy, saying it was for the legislature to work out.

To my surprise, there were lots of common interest in the nuts and bolts of politicing. For example, the Greens are holding a candidate school in the spring and invited all other parties to attend. Unfortunately, I understand, the event will take place on the same weekend as the LPWS annual convention. Other concerns included keeping up to date on the campaign financing rules, fundraising and media coverage.

The suggestion that the third parties consider fusion candidates or cross-endorsements got a mixed response. One participant pointed to the wide divergence of political philosophies in the room, and suggested the only offices that he thought might lend themselves to such candidacies would be the Secretary of State and/or County Auditor races, in which the third party candidate ran strictly on election reform issues favorable to all third parties. There is some merit to this idea, methinks. But it will be for somebody else to carry it forward.

All in all, it was a good event, one that should perhaps happen more often.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

"The suggestion that the third parties consider fusion candidates or cross-endorsements got a mixed response. One participant pointed to the wide divergence of political philosophies in the room, and suggested the only offices that he thought might lend themselves to such candidacies would be the Secretary of State and/or County Auditor races, in which the third party candidate ran strictly on election reform issues favorable to all third parties. There is some merit to this idea, methinks."I was surprised that one of my most enthusiastic supporters/endorsers was the Progressive Party... but yes, as far as they were concerned, for the Secretary of State position they were in 100% agreement. So a fusion Secretary of State candidate just might work.

1:56 AM  
Blogger A Seattle Libertarian said...

I can't for the life of me understand why Whiting was there, or why he was invited.Because the Grange wets their pants every time they think the elections become less predictable?

As far as why he was invited, he probably sold himself to the convention as an expert on the top-2 primary.

9:10 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home