Moving the state presidential primary from May 24 to March 8 would be good for democracy.
WASHINGTON’S presidential primary is set by law on the fourth Tuesday in May — a reasonable date for planting a second round of peas in the garden, but that is far too late to be influential in picking candidates.
A group of state elected and party leaders have a chance to put Washington on the map — specifically, the map of traveling candidates — through a proposal to move the date earlier. Secretary of State Kim Wyman is proposing to move the primary to March 8, the week after Super Tuesday when 12 states vote.
The Republicans are game but the Democratic representatives on that committee seem unwilling. They should reconsider. Otherwise, the state’s unique concerns will be left out of another high-profile presidential debate.
By March 8, all but a handful of states will have had their primaries or caucuses. And Washington’s own political parties will already have held caucuses by the end of May. (Republicans allot half of the delegates in the primary and half in caucuses, but Democrats allot all of their delegates based on their caucuses.) So why would candidates bother to come?
Wyman requested the Legislature make the change and a bill passed with bipartisan Senate support, but didn’t even get a vote in the Democratic-led House.
Far more people would participate in an early and consequential primary than in caucuses, invigorating voters’ interest in the candidates and raising the odds that more candidates would make a trip to Washington.”
So Wyman is convening a special committee of party and legislative leaders, to change the date. A two-thirds consensus is required to make the shift.
They should. Far more people would participate in an early and consequential primary than in caucuses, invigorating voters’ interest in the candidates and raising the odds that more candidates would make a trip to Washington. The odds would rise further if Western states would finally band together to hold a common primary.
Republicans are enthusiastic about a March 8 primary. State GOP party chief Susan Hutchison said at least half of her party’s delegates to the national convention would be based on the outcome of the primary.
The Democratic Party prefers to stick with caucuses. Party spokesman Jamal Raad said Democratic National Convention rules prohibit parties from splitting delegates between caucuses and primaries, so the state party chose caucuses. That’s a dumb rule, one that the state party should contest.
Democrats should live up to their party’s name by approving a March 8 primary and pledge delegates based on the people’s vote.