by David Ammons | May 12th, 2011
Washington state has suspended its 2012 presidential primary in order to save taxpayers over $10 million. Secretary of State Sam Reed emphasizes that the state’s regular Top 2 Primary in August is “absolutely unaffected.”
Legislation requested by Secretary Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire was signed into law by the governor on Thursday. Both continue to be big fans of the presidential primary as the preferred method of engaging the electorate in picking presidential favorites. At the bill-signing ceremony, both the Governor and Secretary made it clear that they proposed the measure, Senate Bill 5119, only because of the state’s dire financial straits.
The state will use the precinct caucus and convention system to choose national convention delegates.
“We absolutely prefer the presidential primary to the old caucus system.
“But $10 million IS a lot of money when the budget gap is $5 billion and there are so many needs out there, and the voters have compelled Olympia to solve the crisis without new taxes.”
Both houses already have passed budget drafts that book the savings.
Reed, the state’s chief elections officer, said ordinarily he would vastly prefer the presidential primary, because it involves many more voters than the caucuses, which tend to attract a more activist crowd.
In 2008, for example, fewer than 100,000 people attended caucuses, even with all the interest in both parties for a wide-open White House. By contrast, 1.4 million voters participated in the presidential primary – more than 10 times as many as the caucuses.
Reed also stressed that suspending the presidential primary in no way affects our regular state primary, which we’ll have each year in August.
“When some folks hear that we’re suspending the presidential primary, they somehow don’t hear the `presidential’ part and worry that we have cancelled the entire state primary. That, of course, isn’t so. We will have a Top 2 primary this August and again every August in the future.”