Thursday, March 20, 2008

Washington: The "Top Two" Primary is On

My friend and state party primary expert Steve Rankin points out that in the matter of the recent US Supreme Court decision to uphold a voter-approved "Top-Two" Washington state primary (Ballot Access News), that the Washington Libertarian Party (as well as the Dems, and not just the Repubs) had also brought a lawsuit against the voter initiative that created an open "top two" primary."

From Peter Callaghan's column in The News Tribune on Thursday:
Don’t blame the Washington State Grange for changing that. Don’t blame the voters, either. We have the top two primary because it was the best we could do given the court rulings that resulted from lawsuits brought by the parties. It took a ballot initiative to break the hold the two parties had over the Legislature and then-Gov. Gary Locke.
That said, the new system may actually be better for politics in Washington than the pick-a-party or the blanket primary system. That’s because party-driven redistricting has created mostly safe districts.

And from Tracy Warner of the Wenatchee World, a bit of history:
They scoffed in 2004 when the state Grange, the prairie populists, floated an initiative to create a new primary system, so similar to the beloved blanket primary that the ballots would be indistinguishable. This primary, however, would not choose a party nominee. On this ballot, party affiliation would be reduced to a generic label vaguely indicating political leanings. This would be a runoff. The two most popular candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation or preference.
The initiative was wildly popular, of course, and of course the parties immediately filed suit to crush it, won an injunction to prevent it from being tried, and prevailed in early court rulings. They scoffed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which Tuesday handed them their reward. It was a surprising 7-2 vote, not even close. The voters, not the political parties, won the day, and will have their way. The top-two primary is on....

Two cheers for the independence of Washington state voters!

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