In what could turn out to be massive political blunder with far-reaching consequences, a question has been raised as to whether Mitt Romney can legally qualify to appear on the Washington ballot under existing state law:
Nominations for president and vice-president by major political parties are conducted at each party's national convention. Immediately following the convention, each party must submit a certificate of nomination and list of electors to the secretary of state in order to place the nominees on the presidential general election ballot.
That is the procedure by which presidential candidates from "major political parties" qualify for Washington's general election ballot. But according to a public records request that was forwarded my way, the Washington State Republican Party may no longer be a major party:
RCW 29A.04.086 tells us that ""Major political party" means a political party of which at least one nominee for president, vice president, United States senator, or a statewide office received at least five percent of the total vote cast at the last preceding state general election in an even-numbered year."
In 2010, the only state-wide race was a race for U.S. Senate.
The Republican Party did not nominate any candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 because neither the Rossi contingent nor the Didier contingent wanted to risk losing a nomination vote at the 2010 state convention of the Republican Party.
Because the "Top-2" primary is only a winnowing primary - not a nominating primary - Mr. Rossi, who proceeded through the Top-2, was not the Republican Party nominee...
And that would seem to suggest that the state GOP technically became a "minor party" following the 2010 election. Oops.
To qualify a presidential nominee for the ballot, minor parties must submit signatures of at least one thousand registered voters, collected at a nominating convention. The public records request asks the Secretary of State if the Republicans indeed filed the required nominating petition. And here's the kicker: If they are a minor party, and they didn't, it's too late.
Of course I don't really expect Secretary of State Sam Reed to remove Romney's name from the ballot whatever the letter of the law, and it's hard to imagine a court forcing him to do so. But it sure would be fun to watch them sweat.