Spokane Newspaper Story Gives Comprehensive Explanation of the Lawsuit over Whether the Republican Party is Ballot-Qualified

The Spokane Spokesman-Review has this comprehensive, clear and balanced story about the lawsuit pending in state court over whether the Republican Party is still ballot-qualified in Washington state.


  1. This story’s getting some attention. The Huffington Post has got a story on it now.

  2. Jim Riley · · Reply

    The Libertarian Party in its Supreme Court brief argues:

    “The Respondents have failed to identify any juncture
    in the I-872 process where any party, major or minor, can identify itself, its nominee or its position.”

    In the State case, the Libertarian Party appears to be making the claim that the State did provide an opportunity for the Republican Party to identify its nominee, but the Republican party failed to avail itself of that opportunity.

    Shouldn’t the Supreme Court take note of the Libertarian Party pleadings in state court and dismiss the federal case based on the fraudulent and frivolous claims of the Libertarian Party?

  3. As much fun as it is watching one of the major parties find out what the minor parties go through, I have to believe that at the end of the day the Republican Party is a ballot qualified party.

  4. jonathan · · Reply

    the libertarian party found a real loophole just as the republican party does all the time when it comes to disqualifying the libertarian party. The republican party should be off the ballot. At the end of the day I have to believe the law has to be enforced equally for everyone. At the end of the day I have to believe the libertarian party is also a ballot qualified party in all 50 states.

  5. Jim Riley · · Reply

    What is the definition of a statewide office?

  6. Richard Winger · · Reply

    To me, “statewide office” means a particular office that is voted on by all the voters in the state.

  7. Nick Kruse · · Reply

    Richard, what do you think of the co-director of state elections opinion that the only partisan elective office is for president because of top-two?

  8. Richard Winger · · Reply

    She says that the law was impliedly repealed by I-872 in 2004. That is not convincing. If the law had been impliedly repealed, why did she ask the legislature in 2009 to change the law? And if the law has been impliedly been repealed, there is no valid law in place defining qualified party, just a regulation.

  9. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #6 My understanding is that both the Washington Libertarian Party and Washington Republican Party have nominated Richard Sanders to Supreme Court Position 9, an office that is voted on by all the voters in the state. If Sanders receives more than 5% of the vote will both Republican and Libertarians be major parties?

  10. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #7,8 In Washington, a partisan office is an office in which candidates may express their party preference on the ballot. The election of presidential electors is a special circumstance elections RCW 29A.56.300 and following.

    Washington has a lot of deadwood election code because of the continuing litigation over the primary which has been going on for a decade. There is code that was added after the errant decisions by the district court and 9th Circuit, in the mistaken belief that the Open Primary was not constitutional. It is reasonable to clean it up.

    The 9th Circuit on remand ordered the equal protection claims be dismissed because the distinction between major and minor parties with respect to nominations had been implicitly appealed. Judge Coughenour did dismiss those claims.

    The Libertarian Party is continuing to assert a claim that the Open Primary denies them the right to make nominations. I don’t know how they can claim with a straight face that the Democratic Party nominated Patty Murray. The party may have endorsed her and gave her financial backing, but that is not the same as nomination.

    Since senate elections and other partisan elections no longer have nominees, then they are void as far as 29.04.086 goes. No one would have seriously suggested that following a midterm election without a senatorial race (eg 1998) that there were no major parties because no party nominated candidate for the 3 statewide offices on the ballot; nor made the alternate claim that parties had nominated candidates for those 3 Supreme Court seats.

    So it is clear that the understanding of 29.04.086 has always been office for which nominations recognized by the State of Washington have been made. At present, this is equivalent to “president”, and this is recognized in the regulations. The SOS has not changed the meaning of the statute, it has just been written in an understandable form.

    Note that Washington no longer conducts elections for precinct committee officers for major parties, but does so for two parties that are named in statute. It also did not hold presidential primaries. The only meaningful distinction for “major parties” is that they may make presidential nominations without petitioning.

  11. Even if the Libertarians have a point, this suit just reeks of laches, and the judge could very well “have it both ways” by saying that if the Libertarians had filed this suit in May or June, he would have ordered the Republicans to go out and collect signatures but at this point it’s too late, and Romney stays on the ballot.

    Not only that, but laches is an affirmative defense, meaning that if the Republicans used that defense, the burden of proof would be on the Libertarians to explain why they waited until after the deadline to file the suit.

    I suppose the judge could even go so far as to reopen presidential filing for two more weeks (for everyone) and order the Republicans to go out and collect signatures if they want to stay on the ballot. 1,000 signatures in two weeks is not a high bar at all–all of the Wisconsin recall candidates had two weeks to get 2,000 signatures.

    At the end of the day I think common sense prevails and either the Republicans stay on the ballot without any further action on their part, or they get a second chance to go collect signatures.

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