Citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the Washington State Democratic Party has postponed a major fundraising dinner before the March 10 presidential primary — an event the party had hoped would attract one or more of the remaining presidential contenders.
The Warren G. Magnuson Awards dinner had been scheduled for Saturday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, but the event has been rescheduled for May 9, the party announced.
The dinner, which Democrats had promoted as “the single biggest event in Washington State Democratic Party history,” had been expected to draw 1,200-plus attendees, according to Will Casey, a spokesman for the party. Tickets were going for between $125 and $2,500. The party said tickets sold would be valid for the rescheduled event.
In canceling the dinner for Saturday, Democrats cited Gov. Jay Inslee’s words of caution this week about large public gatherings. At a news conference Monday, Inslee said he was not formally requesting that any such events be canceled, but that “folks should begin to think about avoiding large events or assemblies.”
Public health officials so far have not recommended widespread closure of schools or cancellation of public events. But some schools in Washington closed or canceled extracurricular events this week anyway.
Asked about the state party’s move, Tara Lee, an Inslee spokeswoman, said in an email the governor “trusts that people are making the best decisions for their employees, organizations, events etc.”
As of Tuesday, officials said nine people in Washington have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.
State Democrats had been in negotiations with various presidential candidates but had not confirmed any, Casey said. Before he dropped out this week, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had planned to skip Washington’s dinner and attend an event the same night with the Idaho Democratic Party.
Proceeds from the Magnuson dinner, named for the longest-serving U.S. senator in Washington history, fund get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic candidates across the state.