Politics This Has Been the Solution All Along
posted by April 7 at 14:21 PMon
The Democrats and Republicans are both chagrined at the recent US Supreme Court decision that upheld I-872 (the top-two primary), approved by voters in 2004.
Quick history: We used to have a top-D/top-R primary—a blanket primary—where all the candidates were on the same ballot and voters didn’t have to declare a party and could vote any candidate they wanted to. The top Dem and the top Republican vote-getters advanced to the general election (even if two Dems, for example, got the most votes).
California had a similar system, which got tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. So as a precaution, Washington changed to a closed primary in 2004—where voters have to choose a Democratic ballot or a GOP ballot. The two winners faced off in the general.
However, voters had a different idea. In 2004, they simultaneously approved a plan for a top-two primary regardless of party.
The Democrats and the GOP challenged the top-two setup, claiming it subverted their right to pick their own candidate. Two lower courts agreed (keeping our pick-a-party primary in play for the last three years), but last month, the US Supreme Court said the top-two system was constitutional.
There are lots of implications about this, and the parties are kind of refusing to acknowledge the decision. From a D press release I just got:
“The ‘Top-Two’ system is not a true primary,” said Dwight Pelz, Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. “It is not an election at which Democrats will nominate a chosen candidate to represent the Democratic Party in the general election.”
“Voters want to know which candidate is the nominated candidate of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and of any minor parties, such as the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Because I-872 eliminates the nominating primary in Washington, the Democratic Party will select our candidates through nominating conventions.”
That’s cool—and the Democratic party activists should do just that at their upcoming conventions, where they’ll pick Jim McDermott and Frank Chopp and Margarita Prentice etc. And really, this has been the solution all along and sort of proves I-872’s case. That is: parties can pick their own candidates, they just don’t get to hijack taxpayer-funded elections to do so.
The Secretary of State is still designing a ballot, but it will most certainly not say which candidate has the official endorsement of either party. It will be up to the parties and the candidates to get the word out on that.