State Democrats look at caucus system for presidential nomination

Washington state Democrats expect to use a system of caucuses and conventions to choose delegates to the 2016 national presidential nominating convention.

The Democratic State Central Committee will decide Saturday in Pasco on following the recommendation of the state party rules committee to start the process with precinct caucuses March 26, 2016, caucuses that will send delegates to legislative district, county and congressional district and state conventions. The congressional district and state conventions will send delegates to the national nominating convention.

The rules committee made the recommendations at a March meeting in Seattle. Chris Roberts from the 32nd Legislative District is a member of the committee. The 32nd District includes Lynnwood, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, parts of Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, the City of Shoreline, and part of northwest Seattle.

Proponents of the caucus system say that caucuses are a Washington tradition, that caucuses save the state the cost of a primary and that caucuses encourage active participation in the nominating process.

Washington Democrats will get 103 delegates to the 2016 national convention, 47 chosen at large at the state convention and 56 sent from the 10 congressional district conventions. That includes a “cluster bonus” of 11 extra delegates that the state would get by holding its caucuses at the same time as Alaska and Hawaii, considered regional partners, and by holding the caucuses after March 22.

The 2nd Congressional District convention will choose six national-convention delegates, and the convention in the 7th Congressional District, the district that has voted for Democrats in recent elections more than any district in the state, will send 10.

The 2nd Congressional District, the one that Democrat Rick Larsen represents, includes Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, coastal areas of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties from Mukilteo to Bellingham, and all of Island and San Juan counties.

The 7th Congressional District, represented by Democrat Jim McDermott, includes Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, most of Seattle and some of Seattle’s southwest suburbs.

Caucus participants must not have participated in another party’s presidential selection process and must sign this statement: “I consider myself to be a Democrat, and I agree that my attendance at this caucus is a matter of public record.”

Caucus participants in the 21st Legislative District, including most of Edmonds, unincorporated areas north of Edmonds and Lynnwood and northeast of Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett, will send delegates to the district caucus in April and to the Snohomish County convention in May.

People who go to caucuses in the Snohomish County parts of the 1st and 32nd legislative districts will send delegates to caucuses with delegates from the King County parts of their districts and to the county convention. The 1st Legislative District includes most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell, north Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland.

Legislative district caucuses send delegates to congressional district and state conventions. County conventions write local party platforms.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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