City Council goes canine

  • By Evan Smith Enterprise forum editor
  • Thursday, April 3, 2008 9:34am

Do I have this straight?

A group of seven dogs will meet regularly to conduct city business. At each meeting, they’ll display some council members who are looking for good homes.

Despite rumors, all council members are housebroken and will make good pets.

Top-two primary: Stop fighting it

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Washington’s top-two primary, the state Republican and Democratic parties suggested that they might come back with another lawsuit.

They should cut their losses rather than end up with something worse.

We’ve always heard that the Supreme Court has the final word, but language in its opinion indicates that the court may be open to another suit based on how the state applies the law.

The court said that, while the top-two law was not unconstitutional on its face, the plan might be open to constitutional scrutiny based on how the state applies it and how people understand the election.

Justices said that party claims that the new scheme would confuse voters were “mere speculation,” but seemed to leave open the possibility that the parties would have a case once they could show actual harm from an election held under the top-two system.

State and county elections offices will carefully design the ballots and the voters’ pamphlets to make sure voters understand that the primary is qualifying candidates for the general election rather than picking party nominees and that general-election candidates aren’t necessarily the nominees of their parties.

Still, the parties will come up with someone who finds either the primary or general election confusing and bring a suit on that person’s behalf.

Already, the parties are threatening to sue over the way the Secretary of State is designing primary ballots.

Either could make things worse for the parties.

If the court eventually should decide that the top-two primary as Washington applies it is unconstitutional, the Washington State Grange, sponsor of the 2004 “top two” initiative, says it will draft an initiative to drop all party labels from both primary and general election ballots.

Voters who have expressed disgust at having to pick a single party’s ballot, would probably pass it.

This would give us a ballot that might say “Representative, 7th Congressional District – Jim McDermott, Non-Partisan.”

The top-two primary may save us from that silly prospect and, ultimately, save partisan politics in Washington.

So, it’s in everyone’s interest to stop fighting the top-two system and to try to make it work.

Top-Two primary: Minor parties in the 21st District?

The top-two primary may keep third parties out of the general election for statewide offices, but those candidates could do well in the 21st Legislative District, where Republicans rarely run.

A minor-party candidate would just have to file and finish second in a two- person primary to make the November ballot.

Evan Smith is the Enterprise Forum editor. Send comments to

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