Libertarians close to getting major-party status in state

By Evan Smith

Libertarians are on track to become Washington’s third major political party, but just barely.

The Libertarians could get major-party status if their presidential candidate ends up with at least 5 percent of the statewide vote from the Nov. 8 election.

As of Wednesday evening, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld had 5.01 percent of Washington presidential votes.

That’s down from the Libertarian candidates’ 7 percent in an October Elway Washington poll and the 9 percent in a September Elway poll.

Votes for Libertarians and four other minor-party presidential tickets seem to have been held down because 4.57 percent of Washington ballots showed either write-in votes or no votes for president at all.

In Snohomish County, the Libertarian candidates took 5.45 percent, the other minor-party candidates combined for 2.63 percent, write-in votes made up 3.54 percent and nearly 1.5 percent made no choice president.

Write-ins have 3.50 percent (12,248 votes), while 5,258 voters have left the presidential line of their ballots blank. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have 52.27 percent of Snohomish County votes, while Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence have 36.18 percent.

Major-party status for Libertarians would mean that we’d be voting for Libertarian precinct committee officers in the 2018 and 2020 primary elections. Those PCOs could nominate replacements for any elected Libertarian official who would resign. Libertarian candidates would automatically get one of the top three spots on the 2020 presidential/vice presidential ballot. And they wouldn’t have to petition to get their presidential and vice presidential candidates on the ballot. We could see a Libertarian section on a 2020 presidential-primary ballot.

The most visible aspect of major-party status would be a Libertarian place on the 2020 presidential-primary ballot. So we could choose to vote as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. Each major party, old and new, would have a section of the primary voters’ pamphlet.

Washington Libertarians will be well prepared for major-party status. They already are seeking precinct committee officers and possible PCO candidates. In addition to the 10 Libertarian legislative candidates on the general election ballot, there were 10 more who lost in the primary. In addition to Libertarian attorney general candidate Joshua Trumbull, who lost to incumbent Democrat Bob Ferguson on the November ballot, there were four other Libertarians running for statewide office in the primary, along with one for U.S. Senate and three for the House of Representatives.

The Green Party, which is far short of getting major-party status with its presidential ticket at 1.82 percent of the statewide vote, has shown little effort to seek openings for state and local office and had only one candidate in any of the state’s 10 congressional districts in the primary.

With major-party status, elected Libertarian precinct committee officers could nominate replacements for any elected Libertarian office holder. So if Libertarian Alex Hels had beaten incumbent Democratic 21st District State Rep. Strom Peterson and then resigned, Libertarian PCOs from around the district would meet to nominate three candidates, whose names would have gone to the Snohomish County Council, which would make the appointment. The 21st District includes most of Edmonds, unincorporated areas north of Edmonds and Lynnwood and northeast of Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.

Evan Smith can be reached at

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

A guitarist keeps rhythm during Lovely Color’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Black Lab in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No matter what music you’re into, Fisherman’s Village has a hook for you

From folk to psychedelic pop to hip-hop, here’s a quick guide to artists you might want to check out in downtown Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.