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

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February 10, 2008 3:12 PM

State GOP to count more today

Posted by David Postman

State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the party will start counting again this afternoon. But he said he has no reason to think the outcome will be any different when ever vote is counted.

“I am confident it will hold up,” he said of his call last night that John McCain had won the Washington caucus. “I don't blame anybody for strongly supporting their guy and Governor Huckabee is a great guy. If they're mad at me, I'm sorry. But I would have done the exact same thing if Governor Huckabee had the same lead, and the same number of votes were outstanding.”

Esser said he declared McCain the winner after calculating what Huckabee would have to win in the remaining precincts in order to take the lead. And even with being generous with a forecast of Huckabee votes, and purposefully assuming McCain's support dropped significantly in the late counts, McCain still looked like the winner.

“There's no certainty in this mortal coil. But I am confident these numbers will hold up.”

Esser said he talked today with Joe Fuiten, the Bothell pastor who heads Huckabee's volunteer effort in the state. Esser said that Fuiten told him about complaints from specific precincts about votes were handled. Esser said the party will investigate those claims.

Esser said he was not lobbied last night from either McCain's or Huckabee's campaigns about whether or not to to declare a winner.

“Maybe it would have been safer if I hadn't said anything. But it was an exciting and historic day for the state and I thought if I was confident about what the outcome would be I should share that with the people who had gone out to their caucuses.”

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Posted by Kevin

3:59 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Just as an observer of the presidential race from another state... I was wondering why anyone during a vote ... would stop counting and just declare a winner from their speculation??? Seems fishy here and very un-American.

Posted by darlost

4:05 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Now the Republican are in the business of making sure every vote is counted. Sweet irony.

Posted by Ebenezer

4:08 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I think it would have been better for Esser to admit he messed up rather then a non-apology apology. A lot of his strategy for electing Rossi seems to be based upon the supposed anger in the general public over the 2004 election. Gregoire's not going to be running a prevent defense campaign this time, and the statewide R officials don't have much of a moral standing after this.

Also, whether or not McCain or Huckabee end up winning a plurality, the winner will likely have a bare quarter of the total, hardly a confidence builder. Will the R's really go for McCain after yesterday, or is there any possibility of someone else entering?

Posted by rick

4:11 PM, Feb 10, 2008

My guess is that Esser will not be the guy in charge come the next election.

Posted by McCooko

4:16 PM, Feb 10, 2008

One must laugh as the GOP now fights about eating its own with disenfranchisement. They didn't care in the last two elections.

Posted by Hinton

4:16 PM, Feb 10, 2008

The problem now, with Esser's idiocy, is that with these numbers, McCain HAS to win the count.

The WSRP would rather dive into a pool of hydrochloric acid than admit that they're wrong.

It was positively moronic to declare a winner with 13% of the vote left to count and a less than 2% gap.

"Safer?" That's not quite the word. How about "Smarter?" Or, more intelligent? Or less incompetent?

And I say that without even caucusing for Huckabee!

Posted by not McCooko

4:23 PM, Feb 10, 2008

The dem elites at the state and national level have now been exposed with their efforts to subvert voters with super delegates, ghost delegates and possible rule bending at the last minute. How can the party of inclusion engage in such brazen hypocrisy while railing against GOP exclusionary voting tactics. The whole construct of super delegates should be abolished. If the elders can't make the sheep go in a particular direction maybe the sheep know better?

Posted by Daniel K

4:23 PM, Feb 10, 2008

"Maybe it would have been safer if I hadn't said anything."

Esser does best when he keeps his mouth shut.

Posted by Mark

4:34 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Dear Mr. Esser,

Grow up! You screwed up. You are either crooked or an idiot or a crooked idiot. This has nothing to do with Huckabee being a nice guy or people strongly supporting their man, as you put it. It has everything to do with your disenfranchising Washington voters. This was NOT a runaway race. There is absolutely no reasonable excuse you could offer other than that you are incompetent and failed to do your job. Be sorry for that.

Go back to high school and manage a student council election. You should be barred from having any further involvement in this or future elections.

Have a nice day.

Posted by Mark

4:38 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Dear Mr. Esser,

Grow up! You screwed up. You are either crooked or an idiot or a crooked idiot. This has nothing to do with Huckabee being a nice guy or people strongly supporting their man, as you put it. It has everything to do with your disenfranchising Washington voters. This was NOT a runaway race. There is absolutely no reasonable excuse you could offer other than that you are incompetent and failed to do your job. Be sorry for that.

Go back to high school and manage a student council election. You should be barred from having any further involvement in this or future elections.

Have a nice day.

Posted by Alex

4:44 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Esser's explanation for quiting the vote count and declaring McCain the winner with such a small lead is unexplainable. Results should be based on facts, not his personal unscientific projection or worst his personal preference!

Posted by Terry

5:13 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Geeze people, get a grip. The Republicans are NOT electing delegates. This is a STRAW Poll of delegates elected to the County Conventions. NOT for the purpose of Presidential delegates. The WSRP will use 51% of the primary vote to assign those delegates...the remaining delegates will be elected the last weekend of MAY at the State Convention. This straw poll was a fun method to see how delegates are feeling at this time. It is not binding or official.

Posted by Don Johnson

5:19 PM, Feb 10, 2008

PEOPLE! Pay attention here! Two important things:

1. They never stopped counting. They just haven't heard from all the precints yet. Just try to imagine how difficult it can be to collect data from all over the state, particularily the rural areas where the retired people who run those counties can barely get connected to the Internet.

2. There are no "votes" to count. All that is getting counted is the Presidential preference of each of the delegates that were elected to their county conventions. It's a straw poll, that's all. Not one delegate was won by McCain, Huckabee, or anyone yesterday. That doesn't happen until the state convention in May. AND, when it's all said and done, the 18 delegates elected at the state convention will probably be for 2 or more campaigns.

Posted by DenisL

5:20 PM, Feb 10, 2008

You know Bill Gates computer programmers are near you. Hire one to set up your comment section.
When the caption is entered incorrectly AND IT WAS NOT, it is not very nice for you to lose the message that I composed.

go to hell

And good luck in a state that can not run a primary.
You get what you deserve.
A non-democratic election.

Posted by Jeff

5:28 PM, Feb 10, 2008

I was at McCain's rally at the Westin. Luke Esser was standing on stage cheering for him.

I think this is really inappropriate for the man charged with counting the votes.

Posted by Terry

5:36 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Luke Esser is NOT counting the votes. This is done at the precinct and county level. Luke is NOT the one getting the totals either. AND (listen to Don Johnson) there are NO VOTES TO COUNT! This is a fun straw poll of people elected to attend their county convention!!
ALSO- BY THE WAY- Luke Esser was front and center when Huckabee was in town last Nov. He proudly stood beside him on the stage too.

Posted by Daniel K

5:51 PM, Feb 10, 2008

"Straw poll"?

Every state is having a primary or caucus, and you want us to believe the Republicans spent Saturday in Washington having a "fun straw poll"?

Posted by Daniel K

5:54 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Don Johnson - It does take the Miami Vice to wonder why the Republicans were so inept yesterday in counting their votes, when the massively attended Democratic caucuses, also held around the state and in remote rural areas, were.

Face it, whatever way you slice it, both the vote counting and the reporting of the results could and should have been handled more smoothly.

Posted by Daniel K

5:58 PM, Feb 10, 2008

David - DenisL has a point, albeit one he could have expressed better, about the new Seattle Times comment processing system.

More than once I've been caught out myself by the captcha validation and lost my entire comment because of it.

You need to ask your IT folks to modify the system so that it re-displays the comment, and retains your name and email address so you don't have to re-enter those. As it works currently it is not very user friendly to say the least.

Posted by bud

6:13 PM, Feb 10, 2008

These guys can't help themselves.... Just stop the counting when you get the answer you want.

Shameless. Why should I even bother voting in November?

Posted by paul

6:19 PM, Feb 10, 2008

If Esser can't deliver the state for his guy, then he won't get that cushy ambassadorship to that tiny country he's been coveting.

Esser's job security depended on delivering WA to McCain.

Posted by bloomberg

6:22 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Cut the GOP volunteers some slack....everyone knows that Sunday is "bingo day" at the retirement homes. They'll get back to the counting on Monday. Sheesh.

Posted by Postman

6:23 PM, Feb 10, 2008

DanielK, if that's how Dennis responds maybe Captcha is doing fine.

But I know there is a problem with it. I've asked about what we can do. And I think they are working on a fix so at least the comment doesn't get lost. One thing I suspect, but can't be sure, is if you type in the Captcha before you write, and it takes you a long time to write, that code is no longer valid. I've had the same experience Dennis had, where I knew I had typed it in correctly.

Posted by stink

6:36 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Now I have a whole new outlook on the Rossi loss in 2004... when Rossi took the lead the R's stopped couting votes!!

Posted by Just Say No .. to Huckabee

7:19 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 Derek

7:19 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Mr. Esser,

What were you thinking? You've managed to embarrass yourself (although it's clear that hasn't sunk into your muddled mind yet) and your state's election process. Bottom line, it was ridiculous to call the election until the counting was done. Even if it does come out the way you forecast, I would suggest you and your staff be replaced by a class of 5th graders. Perhaps Jeff Foxworthy can recommend some kids with more competence.

Posted by Mike

7:42 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Republican malfeasance surrounding an election, resulting in disenfranchised REPUBLICANS??? Wow, talk about karma! So the party whose motto every election is "pray for rain on election day", and who has consistently opposed voting rights legislation in every instance everywhere in America now has disgruntled members whose votes weren't counted, and suddenly that's a problem for them. maybe they should print up some more "Sore Loserman" signs and tell those whose votes weren't counted that they're just whiners. Couldn't happen to a nicer party I'd say.

Posted by George Smiley

8:03 PM, Feb 10, 2008

"Geeze people, get a grip. The Republicans are NOT electing delegates. This is a STRAW Poll of delegates elected to the County Conventions. NOT for the purpose of Presidential delegates. The WSRP will use 51% of the primary vote to assign those delegates...the remaining delegates will be elected the last weekend of MAY at the State Convention. This straw poll was a fun method to see how delegates are feeling at this time. It is not binding or official."

So your, erm, expert analysis is that Huckabee's campaign is considering legal action over nothing. Nice.

Posted by Ed the Head

11:07 PM, Feb 10, 2008

Where does one even begin? Some of these commenters seem to think that the "vote counting" is being done by the state Republican party. In fact, in each county the caucus leaders have to match the elected delegate forms to the sheets where each participant indicated their preferred candidate. These are the numbers that are reported. So the state Republican party didn't "stop counting" and go home. Some areas are still sorting out their forms, so that's why they're not up to 100% reported yet.
It's amazing that people are so upset about the reporting considering 1) this is only the first step of the delegate selection process. The elected delegates from Saturday have to go to a county convention, then delegates there are selected for the state convention, then delegates are selected for the national convention, and these are the delegates that actually count, and 2) The caucus process on Saturday, after it is filtered through the many subsequent steps, will account for 45% of the formula from which Washington's mere 40 delegates are selected. 40 of 2,380 Republican delegates.
In other words, everyone should probably just calm down.

Posted by BrianD

11:09 PM, Feb 10, 2008

My wife is one who got this tempest in a teapot boiling. As a true believer in the Republican Party, she was pretty upset to be shut out of the county convention process by the sneaky, domineering precinct committee officer who engineered an exclusively McCain slate of delegates despite the diverse makeup of the precinct attendees. The four delegates and three of the four alternates came from the seven McCain supporters on the list of potential delegates. The Huckabee and Paul supporters were glossed over. Nobody got an opportunity to speak on behalf of themselves or their preferred candidates. She asked what was going on, and the guy simply left the building. She complained to the head of the district caucus, but only got an offer to be added as a potential alternate delegate. She was so excited and pleased to be able to participate in the process until all this happened. She complained to Huckabee's man, the Rev. Fuiten by email, and to other officials as well. She's an angel, but Hell hath no fury like a women scorned.

Posted by Mike

11:43 PM, Feb 10, 2008

right on to Mrs BrianD! now those are strong traits held by Republicans that i've always admired. from this side of the aisle i'm always hoping that the "give em hell but play fair" folks are in the lead over there. sadly, the past few years have seemed otherwise.

Posted by Timothy Killian

12:39 AM, Feb 11, 2008

David...and others...

I think this story runs much deeper than Esser choosing to announce a winner prior to finishing the count.

The Republican caucus really wasn't structured to be a vote for the candidates in any way if I understand the on-the-ground reports correctly. The tally that Esser is giving is not an accurate reflection of what actually happened at the caucuses.

As I understand it from reading several blogs, the delegates were selected for factors OTHER THAN their stated preference for Presidential candidates. In other words, the delegates were merely picked to be bodies, and their stated preference was not related to that choice.

A precinct could have had 10 supporters for Huckabee, 5 for Paul, and 3 for McCain. But, the precinct could have chosen to send the 3 McCain supporters as delegates, with no relation to their preference.

Then...Esser counts the preferences of the delegates, and declares a victory for McCain. But the process wasn't conducted in order to declare a winner in this manner and therefore, the results are not only meaningless, but as Esser is representing them, false.

David...I think you need to dig deeper here.

Posted by Mike

1:42 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Timothy appears to be correct. The accounts across the blogosphere from people that claim to have been at the caucuses seem to corroborate that their preference was not a matter of concern. So what was it that they were counting?

Posted by Timothy Killian

3:59 AM, Feb 11, 2008

I think this is a major story...

I've written an analysis of my research and placed it on my web site.

In short, I think Washingto State Republican Chair Luke Esser has misled the World by declaring John McCain the "winner" of the Feb. 9th Washington Caucuses.

You can read my analysis here:

Posted by Jay Rosen

6:08 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Stay on this one, David. As they say in newsrooms, it has legs.

Jay Rosen (

Posted by redflag

6:59 AM, Feb 11, 2008

One of the crazy things about these caucuses, both democratic and republican, is the casual attitude the party activists take when it comes to counting votes. There are no controls.

It's one big reason to inisist that we have a real presidential primary in this state, not the party activists controlling everything.

Posted by raincityk

7:40 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Okay, I have read all the articles and the comments posted here. My conclusion is this-- If ever I have a weekend day to waste, it will NOT be spent attending a caucus!

Posted by Mike timmons

8:14 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Mr. Postman:

I think the flaw here is in assuming the Republican Party officials CAN count. Maybe all the home schooling is taking a toll in this situation.

Posted by Mike

8:30 AM, Feb 11, 2008

I agree that the GOP Caucuses need to be understood. Whether or not I agree with them, at my caucus, they were explained very well.

My friend was in a group where the Huckabee supporters not only locked her out of being a delegate, but mocked her for wanting to choose a sinner to represent her. Huckabee may not want to hear what he dredges up. Of the precinct groups around me, there was a good mix of representation chosen to represent the precincts. One had Ron Paul supporters in spades. Another was mixed with people not wanting to change from Romney. It was a fun and very interesting approach to politics.

Caucuses may not be the best solution, nor do they allow for a good democratic voice to be heard. But, they allow the real supporters to get out. It is a good thing the GOP allows both Caucuses & Primaries. The Democrats ignore the popular vote.

Posted by R. Travaille

8:58 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Well at least the Republicans will Use the Ballots cast in the Primary!! Unlike the Democrats who could care less about how their Voters cast their Ballots!!

Posted by The Blck Hand

9:42 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Joe Fuiten....isn't this the same guy who is forcing people out of their homes in some rural Snohomish county? Huckabee got a real winner...

Posted by Mike Donnelly

9:59 AM, Feb 11, 2008

I would love to know the raw numbers of people who showed up to vote. Anyone have the numbers?

I've read elsewhere that the Dems had 200,000 total show up but I can't find a total for the Republican side. Sites like USA today aren't helpful because sometimes they list the actual number who voted and sometimes they list the number of caucus sites won.

If you have the number please email me here

Posted by landlover

10:15 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Oh, brother Blkd Hand. You obviously don't have a clue...I'm glad there is someone out there who is willing to keep them on track! Thanks, Joe Fuiten.

Posted by RW

10:20 AM, Feb 11, 2008

The caucus system is not a real election. All this fuss over who "won" is meaningless. We caucus attendees numbered over 100 at my location. Two people will go to the next level and they are NOT bound by the will of the other 98 of us. That level (county) will again result in a few delegates to the state convention, who will again by un-bound by the preferences of those other individual cuacus delegates.

So, essentially, at the state wide convention you will have a group of party insiders who have been advised by both the caucus results and the primary results but are free to vote for whom ever they like.

It's not a very democratic system. What Huck is complaining about doesn't make a lot of sense in this larger context.

Posted by EM

10:40 AM, Feb 11, 2008

Its not over until all votes are counted! I forgot we have become a dictatorship! Zig hil to Luke Esser.

Posted by Nancy

11:34 AM, Feb 11, 2008

What about reports that some precinct leaders told attendees to leave the candidate preference column blank because "it didn't matter"? Should those precincts allow the disenfranchised attendees to express a preference now? They have the names of the attendess.

Posted by Independent Observer

12:39 PM, Feb 11, 2008

The R’s decided to use the primary election to allocate 51 percent of their delegates based on the primary, the balance based on the caucuses. So, given the closeness of the election, how can the R's declare a winner when 51% of the delegates will be based on the ELECTION which has not occurred yet? The Election isn’t until February 19th!!

Posted by Daniel K

1:29 PM, Feb 11, 2008

"The caucus system is not a real election. All this fuss over who "won" is meaningless."

Silly us. We forgot we don't "elect" presidents, they're "selected" for us.

Posted by Matt

1:42 PM, Feb 11, 2008

Yes, it was a STRAW POLL! Saturday only had one official purpose and that was to elect delegates from precincts to the various County Conventions on March 8th. Just because people's preferences were counted from sign-up sheets or from a piece of paper indicating preference isn't anything more than an indicator.

Yes, Esser could and should have worded the press release differently, but it's far from over. The fact is that Saturday showed the largest caucus I've seen in the last four presidential I've been too. Neighbors met with neighbors down the block and elected delegates in the simplest and purest form of democracy that exists.

And my candidate didn't prevail, but I'm still happy to see so many Republicans came out to participate.

Posted by Peter80s

2:38 PM, Feb 11, 2008

This is worse then the gop stealing the 2000 election and having the supreme court install gw as Pred. It's almost as bad as stealing the 2004 election by disenfranchising voters in Ohio. At least the gop has it's priorities straight.

Stay hot

Posted by Max Boomer

2:52 PM, Feb 11, 2008

I agree w/ Hucks, the GOP's electoral politics reminds me of a Soviet Bloc country. They even have Fox News to operate as their state TV!

Posted by Mike from Seattle

4:19 PM, Feb 11, 2008

mmmm okay the other mike is talking nonsense, as the democratic caucus goers felt that the popular vote was well represented, while the republicans admittedly weren't concerned about candidate preference. this has really lit up on the blogs overnight, and talkingpoints and horse ass both have a lot on the baackstory. the amazing thing is that esser still claims to be "counting" something. so what is it he's counting?

Posted by evergreen_representative

6:49 PM, Feb 11, 2008

With all the controversy surrounding the Republican caucus in Washington, not only Huckabee, but Ron Paul might still have a chance for the ultimate caucus victory. There needs to be a complete re-count. This looks like the same type of shenanigans that were going on in Louisiana, where there is also a challenge to the caucus results, and that apparently denied a victory to Paul.

Posted by Brad

9:13 PM, Feb 11, 2008

ESSER is an idiot makes us look incompetent Doesn't matter who the is candidate this you still count the votes the longer he waits the more it looks like a cover-up. No one cares about Huckabee his own party wants McCain. Only the people want Huckabee and they obviously don't COUNT. Count being the keyword.

Posted by Nancy

12:02 AM, Feb 12, 2008

Ok. Monday is over. I thought we were going to get an updated count today? Why don't we have 100% reported now?

Posted by stink

6:18 AM, Feb 12, 2008

Apparently this story is on the "down low".... makes you wonder about everyone saying the press is so liberal.. seems like a liberal leaning press would be all over this and "outing" people... at the moment it seems like it's all swept under the nearest rug.

Posted by Mike in Seattle

6:01 AM, Feb 13, 2008

on further examination, it appears that the WSRP rules (posted on HA yesterday in pdf) were written specifically for the purpose of circumventing the wishes of the rank-and-file while at the same time allowing plausability of denial to party officials in the event of anyone calling them on it. with these rules they can send send folks like pudge around to tell everyone that theyre not actually selecting delegates based on candidate preference. once they get the raw delegate totals the party bosses can assign whatever candidates names they want to them, and are NOT bound by the stated preferences on the sign-in sheets as has been falsely claimed. “because that can change” as pudge stated, based on “caucusing” which apparently didnt occur much or wasnt allowed to occur according to the accounts here and elsewhere. so then the ‘results’ which pudge (soundpolitics)called “meaningless” are translated by the party bosses into roughly half of the REAL delegates that will actually go to the convention. plus they get to declare a now admittedly bogus “hard-fought victory” for whoever they want and get (or derail) that all-important “momentum.” pretty slick, huh? but now their little stooges are blowing it by blogging madly (with linkage in the nationals no less!) in defense of their “system” - and insulting anyone that questions said “system” by claiming that they’re just not capable of understanding it. why, those rules aren’t hard to understand at all! you just have to think like a republican for a moment…
…er, i think i have to go take a shower now.

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