Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: SCOTUS Upholds Washington's Top-Two Primary System

The U.S. Supreme Court by a 7-2 vote has upheld the Washington "top-two primary" system approved by voters with Initiative 872 in 2004, but never implemented because of legal challenges. The "top-two" primary system will now be used in our August 2008 primary.

The Washington Grange has fought long and hard for this, and the latest presidential primary showed many Washingtonians are angry with the current "pick-a-party" primary. But I feel this has opened Pandora's Box. In heavily Democratic areas on the west side of the state, Republicans will never get on the November ballot, only enhancing their one-party rule. And in Republican Eastern Washington, Democrats will masquerade as Republicans without obtaining the party's approval, thus confusing voters and sneaking into office. Conversely, Democrats in the very conservative 9th Legislative District that includes Whitman County may face a situation where their candidate may not appear on the ballot for statewide office if two Republicans gather the most primary votes. Over a third of the statewide and congressional candidates who appeared on the general election ballot in 2000 would have been eliminated in the primary if the "top two" primary system had been in place then. We could be faced with "good ol' boy" popularity elections contests or faceoffs between the two wealthiest candidates versus honest discussions of the issues.

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