I don’t often agree with the Seattle Times editorial board, but today’s editorial, “Try again to save Washington’s primary“… well… I don’t agree with that either. On the other hand, the guest column by regular Times contributor Floyd J. McKay, pretty much hits the issue right on the button: “It’s time for state’s voters to move on — to Montana.”
The Times once again pines for the days of the blanket primary, a nominating system whose special place in the hearts of WA voters is derived, as far as I can tell, from the fact that that’s the way we’ve always done it.
Zilly’s ruling is another defeat for voters who want to choose among the best candidates, not between partisan extremes. Last year, the state Legislature approved a top-two primary to replace the blanket primary.
But former Gov. Gary Locke gutted it with a veto, leaving in place a primary where voters had to pick a partisan ballot for the first time in almost 70 years.
Voters disliked it so much, they approved the top-two primary initiative. But the state’s major political parties sued to seize the people’s primary for their own partisan ends.
Um… the state’s major political parties sued in federal court, and the top-two was ruled unconstitutional. The Times thinks Judge Zilly should not have the final word, and perhaps he won’t. In an interview on KUOW this afternoon, Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell said the Montana primary will be used this fall, but that the ruling would likely be appealed. He sounded pretty passionate about it too.
Sure. Whatever. Change can be uncomfortable. But as McKay wisely points out in his column, “tradition is wonderful, but sometimes you just have to move on.”
I’ve never quite understood why some people get so angry at the thought of voting a partisan ballot in a partisan primary; it seems far from the greatest threat to our democracy. McKay agrees that it is the electorate, not the system, that determines the quality of our elected officials, and if we want better politicians then we all have to get more involved. He also zeros in on a truly worrisome trend:
Perhaps the most disturbing electoral development in Washington in the past few years is not the endless primary battle but the extent to which party leaders and bankrollers want to control the nomination process.
Saturday’s paper, announcing Judge Zilly’s ruling, also contained the news that Dino Rossi is out of the Republican race for U.S. Senate next year, and Safeco CEO Mike McGavick is “the first choice of party leaders.”
That’s fine; McGavick looks like an excellent candidate and party leaders certainly have the right to express an opinion. But what happened in the gubernatorial and Senate races in 2004 was wrong