• Evan Smith<br>
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:14am

TO: Secretary of State Sam Reed

State Capitol

Olympia, Wash.

CC: 1) Attorney General Christine Gregoire

State Capitol

Olympia, Wash.

CC: 2) Legislative Officer

Washington State Grange

Olympia, Wash.

FROM: Evan Smith

RE: Appeal of Decision on Blanket Primary

I agree with your desire to save this state’s blanket primary, but I disagree with your intention to appeal a three-judge federal appeals court decision to the full Ninth-Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court.

I know that you want to preserve the right of all Washingtonians to participate in the primary and to vote for whomever they want, but an appeal would be futile. Getting the full Ninth Circuit Court to overturn the three-judge panel is unlikely, and the Supreme Court is unlikely to take an appeal, given its decision against the blanket primary just three years ago. Even if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would overturn the three-judge panel, the political parties would certainly appeal it, and the Supreme Court would certainly reinstate the ruling against the blanket primary.

So, save the money, and concentrate on efforts in the Legislature or through the initiative process to establish an open primary that would pass constitutional muster.

Call a special session

TO: Gov. Gary Locke

State Capitol

Olympia, Wash.

FROM: Evan Smith

RE: Special Legislative Session on the State Primary

The Court of Appeals decision overturning our state’s blanket primary means we need to fix the primary in a way that will both please our state’s independent voters and meet court requirements.

Candidates need to start planning for next year’s election; so, we need to start the fix now. That means you should call a special session of the Legislature for this fall. You need to call in only the governmental affairs committees of the two houses to hash out the details; then, call the full Legislature in for a day or two to vote on committee recommendations.

You and most legislators have thrived under an open primary. So, I expect you to defy the parties and their desire to start a system that would give them a list of who votes in their parties’ primaries.

My proposal for a new primary law

The new primary system should look like this:

In all elections for partisan positions, all candidates who file shall appear on a single primary ballot. They may list their party of choice or their independent status. Any political party may, if it chooses, endorse a candidate through a state, county or district convention or caucus. Endorsed candidates will be marked as such on the ballot.

The top two candidates in the primary shall advance to the general election. A write-in candidate may advance if he or she finishes among the top two and gets at least 1 percent of the total votes cast for the office.

If, and only if, only one candidate qualifies for the general election, anyone my file as a write-in candidate for the general election.

Some post-election thoughts

Defeat of incumbent shows disillusionment with Sound Transit

The defeat of Metropolitan King County Council Chairwoman Cynthia Sullivan, a Sound Transit board member and longtime fixture in Seattle politics, by Democratic challenger Bob Ferguson, who made Sound Transit a centerpiece of his campaign against her, shows, that, at least in Northeast Seattle, a significant number of people question the direction of Sound Transit.

A Republican on the Council said that this will mean that a majority of the King County Council now opposes Sound Transit’s Seattle-Tukwila light-rail plan

Pete von Reichbauer, vice chairman of the Council, said Ferguson’s victory could weaken or end the council’s support of light rail.

Close vote should be settled in November

With Democrats Sullivan and Ferguson the only names on the primary ballot, the winner will be unopposed in November. After the close vote, wouldn’t we be better served with a system that let the two of them run off in November when more people will vote? That would happen if we adopted the Louisiana-style primary, in which the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

King County turnout a disgrace

Turnout at the polls and voting by mail-in ballot both appeared to be lower than official predictions that 35.7 percent of registered King County voters would participate in the primary. On election night, officials said they’d received 40,000 fewer absentee ballots than they had expected by election day.

In Shoreline, where I live, there were only six items on the ballot, in two of which the only candidates would automatically move on to November, but the city council positions and port commission positions on the ballot are important to the candidates and, ultimately, to our representative form of government.

Pot initiative an experiment

Backers of Seattle’s initiative to make marijuana-possession the city’s lowest law-enforcement hailed it as a victory for concentrating police resources on dangerous crimes rather than adult use of small amounts of pot.

Opponents, however, said that police were already giving it low priority, and that the new law will give criminal defense attorneys an opportunity to delay trials by raising the issue of whether police had properly followed the law.

Other jurisdictions can watch to see which side is right.

Renton schools: don’t back “Huck Finn”

A black family in Renton wants the high schools to stop requiring students to read Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” because of its repeated use of the word “nigger.” Yet the use of that word is part of the way the book shows the atmosphere of mid-19th Century America.

These people should embrace this novel’s depiction of an heroic escaping slave and a white boy who learns of the inhumanity of the society he lives in.

They need to see the use of the offensive word not as an endorsement of insensitivity, but as an example of what was bad about our past and don’t want in the present or future.

We’d like to know what you think. If you have a comment send it to

The Enterprise

P.O. Box 977

Lynnwood, Wash. 98036


Fax: 425-774-8622

Evan Smith is the Enterprise Forum editor.

Talk to us