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Postman on Politics

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

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April 8, 2008 7:42 AM

Dems to nominate candidates at conventions

Posted by David Postman

State Democrats say they will hold a series of nominating conventions to anoint their chosen candidates for the August primary. That’s the party’s attempt to have its members pick candidates after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that authorized the state to hold its first “top-two” primary.

Under the new state primary, the top two vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of their party identification. In Seattle, that would likely mean two Democrats facing off in some legislative races in November.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has said the Democratic and Republican parties cannot designate a chosen candidate on the primary ballot, even if they hold nominating conventions. But the party-backed candidates can list that in the voter’s pamphlet.

In May Democrats will hold legislative district, county and congressional district nominating conventions. Statewide candidates will be nominated at the state convention in June. According to the Democratic Party:

The votes at these Conventions shall be cast by elected and appointed Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs). Each Nominating Convention will nominate one Democrat for each partisan office, by majority vote. This is not an endorsement meeting, there is no two-thirds rule, and there will be no dual nominations.

At The Olympian, Brad Shannon had the scoop on the Democrats’ plans in yesterday’s paper. He said not all Democrats are happy with the new role for precinct committee officers.

That's because party rules require that local precinct officers must take sides — which means Thurston County's PCOs must favor either Sandra Romero or Jon Halvorson in the county commissioner race, for example.

The two Democrats are facing off for the seat Commissioner Diane Oberquell is vacating after two decades; Republican Rob Edmondson and Independent Jackie Joe Reid also are running.

"I think it makes it more difficult. It makes our party potentially more divided," Thurston Democratic Chairman John Cusick said of the requirement to pick a candidate. "We have great support for both candidates; different people support the candidate of their choice."

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