The Stranger, Seattle’s 21-year old free weekly newspaper, has this column suggesting that the Washington state Republican Party is no longer ballot-qualified. The column also points out that because no petition was submitted to place Mitt Romney’s name on the ballot by the July 28 deadline, the Republican Party is too late to qualify as a minor party.
The column quotes the Washington state law accurately, although not completely. The second, unquoted sentence in the definition of “political party” is, “A political party qualifying as a major political party under this section retains such status until the next even-year election at which a candidate of that party does not achieve at least 5% of the vote for one of the previously specified offices.” The Secretary of State will probably interpret this to mean that the Republican Party had no statewide candidate in 2010, and therefore it retains its status based on its 2008 vote for President. Of course, under that interpretation, a minor party that happened to have qualified for party status could retain that status indefinitely as long as it failed to run any more candidates in the future for any statewide office, so that is not really a reasonable interpretation.
Washington state elects all its statewide state offices in presidential years. The only statewide office that is ever up in midterm years is U.S. Senate, which comes up in two-thirds of the midterm years. The 2010 election did have a U.S. Senate election. Washington state parties don’t have nominees (because of the top-two system) except for President. One could even make a case that the Democratic Party also didn’t have a 2010 nominee for U.S. Senate. The Stranger column assumes the Democrats are not affected because at least the Democrats endorsed a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 at their party meeting, whereas the Republicans didn’t.
The Secretary of State realized in 2009 that there is a problem, and asked the legislature to pass a bill, defining a qualified party as one that had polled 1% for President at the last presidential election. But that bill didn’t pass. Thanks to Sean Haugh for the link.