The Libertarian Party of Washington is asking Thurston County Superior Court to rule that Republicans do not have major party status in the state, and that the Romney-Ryan ticket does not qualify for an automatic place on the state ballot this fall.
The Libertarians assert that the only way for the GOP ticket to have earned a place on the Washington ballot is to have held a nominating convention within the state and collected at least 1,000 signatures of Washington residents. The deadline for that method, used by six minor party tickets this year, has already passed. That would leave only a write-in campaign for the GOP ticket, the lawsuit says.
The Libertarians cite a state law that was used during the Pick-a-Party Primary in 2004 through 2007 and that remained on the books even after voters changed the state to the Top 2 system. Top 2, a nonpartisan winnowing process, does not use the terms major and minor parties, since voters do not choose nominees for the General Election, but rather two finalists for each office, without regard to party label. The major-minor distinction is, however, retained for the presidential tickets. Libertarians’ attorney, J. Mills of Tacoma, argues in his complaint that to remain a major party, the Republican nominee needed 5 percent of the vote for U.S. Senate in 2010, and that neither Dino Rossi nor Clint Didier was officially nominated by the Republican Party. The state’s view is that the 2008 presidential race kept the Republicans in major party status for purpose of the Washington presidential balloting.
Katie Blinn, state Elections Division co-director, noted that the old language has not been repealed by the Legislature, but is inoperative. In its place, “we promulgated WAC 434-208-130 to define major and minor political parties. The relevant paragraph states:
“(1) For purposes of RCW 29A.04.086, “major political party” means a political party whose nominees for president and vice-president received at least five percent of the total votes cast for that office at the last preceding presidential election. A political party that qualifies as a major political party retains such status until the next presidential election at which the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of that party do not receive at least five percent of the votes cast.
“Because the Republican and Democratic nominees for President and Vice-President both received at least 5% of the total votes cast for that office in the 2008 presidential election, those parties retain their status as major parties until the next presidential election at which their nominees do not receive at least 5% of the votes cast.”
Mills said the case has been assigned to Judge Thomas McPhee. Case number in Thurston County is 12-2-01683-3.