WA parties set caucus dates for 2012

WA parties set caucus dates for 2012

The Washington GOP and Democratic caucus dates have been set for 2012.

The Republican gatherings will be on Saturday, March 3, very early on the national nominating calendar. The Democrats, with no apparent challenge to President Obama’s renomination, will meet on Sunday, April 15.

In the absence of a presidential primary in 2012, the traditional caucus-convention process will be used by the two major parties to choose their national convention delegates and to work on platform issues for their respective state conventions.

Former state GOP Chairman Chris Vance writes in  Crosscut describing how the Republicans’ system will work. The Democrats’ system is roughly the same.  Details, rules, schedules and locales will be announced in due course by the parties, including on their websites.

Due to budget constraints, the voter-initiated state presidential primary is being suspended for 2012.  Since lawmakers approved the Initiative to the Legislature back in 1989, the Democrats have never used the results to allocate delegates to the national convention, relying on the traditional caucuses, which were not abolished when the primary was created. Republicans have typically used both caucuses and primary results to determine  their delegate split.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, who only reluctantly supported the one-time suspension of the primary during the current tight budget times, said one benefit of the primary has been much broader participation, often 10 times greater than the caucuses. Under the primary system, all voters receive a ballot and can take part in one party’s action.

Party activists in Washington tend to favor the caucuses, which attract the most energized and partisan grassroots participants. Caucuses are typically held in neighborhood gatherings at schools, private homes, fire halls and other locales.  Whereas a primary vote can be cast and posted in a minute or two over the course of several weeks, the caucuses last an hour or two and are held on one particular day and time, with sign-ins for participants, discussion of issues, and election of delegates to legislative and county conventions.  State convention delegates and national delegates are picked later, usually hewing to the general proportions that were set in the caucuses.

Secretary Reed is encouraging voters to plan on attending their favorite party’s caucus this time around.

“These community gatherings are very interesting to observe and to take part in, and they offer a good way for interested folks to get involved in campaigns at the ground-level.  Who knows, you might even get elected as a delegate.  If you love politics, party platforms and discussion of the major issues of the day, this is your opportunity to have your voice heard.”


8 thoughts on “WA parties set caucus dates for 2012

  1. Too bad the primary was cancelled looks like a hot race and now will have no influence from the average voter, shame on Sam.

  2. I think this is a complete disgrace! Of all the places for them to save a buck, our Presidential primary is NOT one of them. The amazing thing is: they still plan on holding the state primary. This alleged “suspension” only applies to the Presidential primary. in other words: we can still vote on the oh-so-crucial party candidates for governor, but the “minor” post of President of the United States of America must be entrusted to “those who know best.” I hope Secretary Reed and Governor Gregoire have enjoyed their time at the helm. She has gone done as the worst Governor this state has had (and we had Dixie Carter!) and he’s a traitor to the voters, as far as I’m concerned.

  3. It’s good that Mr Reed is not running for Secretary of State. I wouldn’t vote for San Reed as the dog’s poop catcher.

  4. The only problem I have with the caucus system is that the state and the two parties do not do a good job of educating the electorate on how they work. I’ve had to search high and low for an understandable explanation. A primary with a ballot in my mailbox is much easier, but maybe this method will show just how much we, as a people, want things to change in this country? Are we all talk and no action? I hope not. I hope we all get our lazy selfs out and caucus in 2012!

  5. I have always thought that caucus, or other internal-party decision making forum, was the correct way to go about making what is essentially a party decision. If you are not in a party, you shouldn’t have a say in whom the party is putting forward asTHEIR candidate. And the cost of the internal decision-making should not fall onto the general public. I’ve gone to caucuses, and have been selected as a delegate. I think everyone should go and have their voice heard. A lot of good conversation and community awareness building can happen at a caucus, not just canidate-selecting.

  6. From what I’ve been able to glean from tirelessly searching the web, the average Washington State voter has been disenfranchised by the decision to cancel the Presidential Primary election. Only those who are already politically involved are likely to participate in the caucuses and even then (from what I’ve been able to learn about the rules), our votes in a precinct caucus straw poll will make no difference in how the delegates will ultimately be allocated in the national primary. The process isn’t transparent to the average voter and I’m appalled. Seems like this should be unconstitutional!

  7. I’m interested in possibly being able to join the Republican caucus process. Seems extremely convoluted at this stage. 2012 will be a pivotal year in the Presidential election and it seems critical that we do all we can to select the right candidate with the best chance of defeating Obama.
    If anyone has information, I would appreciate knowing more about the process and whether it is possible to be part of this process. I am long time ardent Republican.
    Thank you

  8. Does anyone know how the caucus is going to go on March 3? Where are the sites? I have been searching everywhere and have not been able to find any information. I am really interested to see how the whole process works, even if it is not going to count for much…

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