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  New [WA] 'top two' primary targeted by major parties
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ContributorRalphie 
Last EditedRalphie  Feb 14, 2005 08:49am
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MediaNewspaper - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
News DateMonday, February 14, 2005 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionDepending on the outcome of an almost inevitable lawsuit, Washington voters will choose partisan-office candidates for this fall's general election ballot in one of two wildly unfamiliar ways.

They will vote in a primary that could send two Democrats, or two Republicans, to face each other in some races on the general election ballot, or they'll have to march off to party caucuses and conventions, as partisan true believers do, to have a say in who gets nominated.

Either the state's political parties will be almost entirely cut out of a role in the candidate-winnowing process, or they'll have almost total control by going back to the way they picked nominees a century ago.

In passing Initiative 872 in the November election, Washingtonians gave themselves a "top two" primary election system similar to Louisiana's, in which the two top vote-getters advance to the general election -- even if they belong to the same party. Unlike Louisiana, Washington voters won't have to state a party affiliation when they go to the primary polls.

"If it is necessary to preserve our nominating rights, we would certainly challenge the 'Cajun' (or top two) primary," said Paul Berendt, the state Democratic Party chairman. "But for all of the bravado out of state officials, it's unclear to us definitively that they are going to reject our nominating rights."

It isn't bravado, Secretary of State Sam Reed said. State Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Even said if the political parties try to file slates of convention-nominated candidates for the general election ballot, "the secretary of state follows state law and ignores their rules."

Reed, the state's chief elections officer, said, "If (the parties) actually go through this process, and I'm skeptical that they actually will do that, their candidates can say they are party-endorsed. But that would not appear on the ballot."
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