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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 10, 2008 1:56 PM

Huckabee challenges "dubious" caucus count, sends lawyers here

Posted by David Postman

Republican Mike Huckabee's campaign is sending attorneys to Washington state to investigate what happened with the count of yesterday's Republican presidential caucus. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued this statement:

“The Huckabee campaign is deeply disturbed by the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses. It is very unfortunate that the Washington State Party Chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87 percent of the vote was counted. According to CNN, the difference between Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee is a mere 242 votes, out of more than 12,000 votes counted—with another 1500 or so votes, apparently, not counted. That is an outrage.

“In other words, more than one in eight Evergreen State Republicans have been disenfranchised by the actions of their own party. This was an error in judgment by Mr. Esser. It was Mr. Esser’s duty to oversee a fair vote-count process. Washington Republicans know, from bitter experience in the 2004 gubernatorial election, the terrible results that can come from bad ballot-counting.

“Frankly, I am disappointed in the way that Mr. Esser has handled this urgent matter. So I call upon Mr. Esser and his colleagues to cooperate fully with the Huckabee campaign—and all Republicans, everywhere, who care about honest and transparent vote-counting—to make sure that every vote is counted and that all Republicans in Washington have the chance to make their votes count. Attempts by our campaign to contact Mr. Esser have been unsuccessful. Our lawyers will be on the ground in Washington State soon, and we look forward to sitting down with Mr. Esser to evaluate this process, to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

“It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington State to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast.

“This is not about Mike Huckabee. This is not about Senator John McCain. This is about the failings of the Washington State Republican Party. All Republicans should unite to demand an honest accounting of the votes, so that Republicans can have full confidence in the results, and full confidence in the eventual Republican nominee. As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September.

“Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”




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Posted by anonymous pedant

2:13 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Postman: Was the entire content of Rollins' press release his quoting someone else? If not, you should get rid of all those silly quotation marks: since you block-quoted the whole thing, they're wholly redundant.

Posted by Pedro

2:19 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Whether or not McCain ends up winning is irrelevant. There should be no declared winner until everyone's vote is counted. I'm not sure how this could have happened, but it must be fixed so it doesn't happen again.

Posted by markus

2:30 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Duh, it's Washington state. Vote counting is always off base. They allowed Chris Gregoire to win with just a few illegal votes, so why not find irregularities in all levels of voting???

Posted by Mark Foley 4ever

2:40 PM, Feb 10, 2008

We all know the GOP (Grope Our Pages) is the party of disenfranchising voters, but who would have thought they would be willing to take a big dump all over 1 of every 8 Washington Republicans who voted yesterday?

A new low for the WA State Republicans.

Posted by Don Johnson

2:50 PM, Feb 10, 2008

David, I would hope you have been in contact with the Washington State Republican Party today. Clearly people don't understand what is happening here. Even the Huckabee campaign doesn't understand.

The numbers reported yesterday were simply the Presidential preference of the delegates who were elected to their county conventions. It's really just a straw poll. Nothing is official until the delegates are elected at the state convention in May. And even then, no one candidate will necessarily get all the delegates. It is highly likely that Huckabee will have several delegates as well as McCain. This is not a "winner take all" situation.

The counting stopped last night because the a few of the counties hadn't responded yet. As they trickle in we'll hear the results.

Posted by Slippery Slope

2:56 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I'd have the US Attorney’s office look into it. I understand they like to vigorously pursue election fraud cases.

Oh. Wait. This is a Republican irregularity.

Never mind.

Posted by JohnMcC

3:01 PM, Feb 10, 2008

No one seems to have made the obvious comment: Doesn't anyone recall Florida, November 2000? Is anyone actually surprised? Haven't these scummy 'Republicans' shown for years their committment to victory at any price, to the practice of politics as war. Of course they cheat.

Posted by Heidi

3:08 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Even with it being "just a straw poll", the people of America are entitled to an accurate, result-based declaration of the winner, and the WA GOP caucus-goers deserve the honor of watching how the counting of their individual votes leads to a close victory for either candidate. Also, with the political dynamics between Huckabee and McCain being rather interesting, the outcome can still affect the path to the Republican nominee.

Thank you, postman, for the coverage.

Posted by PaulB

3:22 PM, Feb 10, 2008

"David, I would hope you have been in contact with the Washington State Republican Party today. Clearly people don't understand what is happening here. Even the Huckabee campaign doesn't understand."

With all due respect, I think you're missing the point. The point is not the Byzantine system for selecting delegates, it's that the Republican Party of the State of Washington called the caucus for McCain without waiting for the final results. They had no business doing this, even if the outcome were mathematically certain (and I believe that it is not).

They should not have announced the winner until all of the precincts had reported. That they chose to not wait is the reason that so many people are suspicious. And I've seen no valid argument for calling this caucus and nothing on the website that even references this, much less attempts to explain it.

There may be an innocent explanation but at the moment, I'm hard-pressed to think of one.

Posted by stilwell

3:27 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I think there would have been very little hubub if the state GOP had simply stopped releasing results without declaring McCain the winner.

Personally I favor the simplest explanation if there is no evidence to the contrary, but then that wasn't good enough for the state GOP in 2004, so I have no sympathy for their predicament right now at all.

The Republican Party has made sure to attack the Democratic Party's reliance on the caucus system at every opportunity, and guess what: the GOP hybrid system seems to have a major flaw as well. In a close race, the process is not over and the candidate that is behind has every motivation to cry "foul" in order to rally supporters.

And that's exactly what the Huckabee campaign seems to be doing. Either way, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving state party.

Posted by David Adams

3:27 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I also heard that Chairman Esser had halted the counting before all the results were tabulated. Truly a sad day for the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see what the lawyers and reporters come up with. I and other Republicans expect better.

David Adams
GoWashington

Posted by R. Travaille

3:30 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Guess everybody Forgot that the Republicans are using also the Voters choice for half of the Delagates! Unlike the Democrats who don't want any of the Citizens Votes to count! So the number of Delagates for the Republicans won't be knowen until after the 19th!
As for REmember Florida , we here in Wa state don't have to that far back to remember King County!

Posted by Jay

3:33 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Republicans rigging an election? shocked -- I'm shocked!

Posted by Vance

3:35 PM, Feb 10, 2008

“Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”

Geez, where was this guy when we needed him in the Florida 2000 election.

Posted by Archangel

3:56 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Hey they've been suppressing Democratic votes the last 20+ years, maybe they just decided to suppress some of their own for a change.

Posted by Randall

4:09 PM, Feb 10, 2008

“Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”

EXCEPT IN FLORIDA IN 2000

Posted by David K.

4:29 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I liked the comment in Saturday's paper:
"It's not over yet. The media has been real quick to bury Mike Huckabee, but he's been resurrected more often than Jesus," Fuiten said.
Nice!

Posted by Greg from Tacoma

4:41 PM, Feb 10, 2008

The state GOP learned from Florida 2000. By declaring McCain the winner, even though the evidence does not establish that as fact, Huckabee automatically becomes the sore-loser challenger.

Considering all the lies that the WA GOP put out during the gubernatorial recount about disenfranchised soldiers and vote fraud in King County, why should anybody be surprised that the party establishment freaked out over Huck's showing? Heck, the College Republicans are renowned for stabbing each other in the back. State pols who came up through that system are no different.

Posted by shawnkempsbartender

4:49 PM, Feb 10, 2008

As any reader of SoundPolitics.org could confirm, its only election fraud if Democrats do it.

Where's Dino Rossi's strident accusation on Saturday's messed up vote?

Where's the calls for criminal investigation into the disenfranchisement of 1/8 of the voters?


Posted by pudge

5:10 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Wow. This is terribly silly. The Washington results yesterday DID NOT MATTER. Whether every vote was counted before a "winner" was announced DOES NOT MATTER. No one voted for Presidential candidates, only delegates. There is no evidence any delegate elections were held improperly. We have no idea what the final caucus results will be until May.

If anyone is to blame here, it's the media for portraying these "results" as having any meaning, and everyone who is crying about "voter fraud" is ignorant.

Posted by pzzjjr

5:26 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Pudge, it's not correct that his is some media-created thing. You're right about what is still to come in the process, and of course there is no serious allegation I've seen about voter fraud. But to say the media started this by assigning meaning to a meaningless process is just wrong. Here's what Luke Esser said in a press release last night, clearly putting meaning on the results and declaring a winner:
"Washington State Republican Party Chairman announced tonight that Senator John McCain has won the 2008 Republican precinct caucuses in Washington State. With 87.2 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Sen. McCain leads the GOP field with 25.5 % of delegates."

And anonymous pedant, all I can say is I envy the leisure time you must have.

Posted by carlene

6:12 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Lets just do the whole caucus over again. And have an accounting firm or some neutral party oversee the process. This is a tragedy.

Posted by Ionikios

7:08 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Why are you calling these ballots? These were preferences written down as we signed in for the caucus to elect delegates. These aren't any kind of statements to be used officially for anything. I don't understand what you are trying to say. Nor do I understand why someone spending others hard earned money would send lawyers here to check it out, unless neither one of you understand why we gathered in caucus.

Posted by Ionikios

7:12 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Why are you calling these ballots? These were preferences written down as we signed in for the caucus to elect delegates. These aren't any kind of statements to be used officially for anything. I don't understand what you are trying to say. Nor do I understand why someone spending others hard earned money would send lawyers here to check it out, unless neither one of you understand why we gathered in caucus.

Posted by Just Say No .. to Huckabee

7:22 PM, Feb 10, 2008

For a candidate who hasn't even visited Washington, Huckabee should stop trying to "presume" that things went wrong here and that he is the winner. If it weren't for all the people who voted for Romney (17%+), McCain would have creamed Huckabee. I know because I LIVE HERE and MYSELF and OTHERS were the ones to vote this way.

Go back to Arkansas, Huckabee. Oh, wait, you were never here.

Posted by GeneZ

7:55 PM, Feb 10, 2008

This may reflect on some strings being pulled behind the scene by McCain and backfire on him like his worst nightmare. Its sends a signal that we may land us another Nixon in office if he gets in. If you are going to win? Really win.

Posted by mcz

8:10 PM, Feb 10, 2008

As more 'main-stream' candidates start inexplicably losing (or having irregularities that seem to result in your loss), those Ron Paul supporters don't look so crazy being alarmists about Voting security in NH (check youtube), among other states, now do they?

Posted by iuvius

8:26 PM, Feb 10, 2008

That a republican is standing up for a transparent electoral process is ironic.

That someone is arguing over individual votes in a single state in a party primary is at first silly, upon further perusal, disturbing.

Obviously, there is far more at stake than a job, or running the country. A true idealogue these days understands that true power for change is in grassroots movements. So throwing a tantrum over 1500 votes in a primary... spells big money.

These stupid elections are all sleight of hand. They're all on the same side anyhow. In the election of Rich vs. Poor, we're still disenfranchised, still unrepresented.

Posted by Robert

9:26 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Come on Washington Republicans. Be outraged. With 13% of precincts uncounted with less than a 300 vote lead, a winner is proclaimed??? If it turns out that Huckabee won, Washington could have been the state that began a major national upset for the Republican nominee via the headline this morning that would have read, "Huckabee sweeps weekend contests". This delay and injustice of projecting a winner breaks any possible momentum. The 87% we have today was reached Saturday night at 10:30pm. God help Esser if Huckabee won, his job is over.

Posted by Dick Derham

11:34 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Huckabee is right not to concede the state; wrong to contest a meaningless "straw vote" count.

A little history might give perspective.

In 1988, four candidates ran campaigs in Washington's caucuses. The straw vote showed the following results:

Bush 40%
Dole 30%
Robertson 20%
Kemp 10%

(all numbers rounded, and I may have reversed Dole and Robertson).

The press announced "Bush wins Washington."

Those of us involved in other campaigns engaged in some esoteric math that eluded the Bush campaign. We concluded that 10 + 20 + 30 produced a sum greater than 40.

In other words, we concluded that Bush lost Washington. And so it turned out. At the state convention a national delegation representing Dole, Robertsonb and Kemp adctivists was elected.

In 1988 Bush received a plurality. But the genius of a caucus system is that majority rules, and the conservative majority of 60% sinply outvoted the 40% moderate plurality.

What the outcome in Washington state will be this time depends not on what some national pundits, or even national political campaigns, say, but upon what the real flesh and blood human beings elected as delegates to county conventions decide when the next stage moves forward next month.

Stay tuned

Posted by Bothsides

11:54 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Vance and Randall sound like rabid leftists frothing at the mouth when they say “Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.” and then reference the 2000 presidential election in Florida, gee, do you suppose if the Dems were allowed to "keep counting" that it would have been a "fair" result, NO, it would have been a manipulated result. It cracks me up that they use this caucus example to even bring this up, you should really wait for a worthwhile event to start your whining.

The delegates will choose whoever they want, period.

Posted by bob

3:17 PM, Feb 11, 2008

This is simple. Just count every f****** vote regardless who's in the lead you dumb fu***** ahole! That way there's no controversy!

Posted by Marc

9:32 PM, Feb 11, 2008

Esser for President! he knows all and can predict the future. He's a perfect fit he doesn't care what the people have to say either.

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