Canceling 2012 presidential primary is right move

But lawmakers should go further. Any future taxpayer-funded presidential primary must be used to allocate delegates.


It's official. Washington state -- with a stroke of Gov. Chris Gregoire's pen -- canceled its 2012 presidential primary and saved taxpayers $10 million.

Gregoire and state lawmakers made a terrific decision. The presidential primary is nothing more than a beauty contest -- albeit a very expensive one.

In the past, presidential primary results meant nothing for Democrats and very little for Republicans.

Republicans in 2008 allocated 51 percent of their delegates to the national convention on the primary vote and the remainder based on the party caucuses. Democrats didn't even consider the primary results and used the caucuses to allocate their delegates.

Beyond that, voters who wished to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary had to sign an oath -- an oath that becomes a public record -- declaring they are a Republican or Democrat.

That's intrusive and unnecessary.

Still, it wasn't an easy decision for the Legislature or governor.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, generally prefers the primary system over caucuses even though the primary isn't given much weight. Reed likes the primary because it draws more participation and helps generate public interest in the political process.

Reed recommended the suspension of the primary for 2012 because of the current budget crisis. He wants it to be reinstated in 2016.

We, too, see the importance of public participation but $10 million -- or even $1 million or less -- is too much for taxpayers to spend.

Putting the kibosh on the 2012 primary should only be a start. We believe the state shouldn't fund a presidential primary until the two major political parties agree to use the results to allocate their delegates. They also need to do away with the oath requirement.

This, after all, would be a public election funded with public money.

The only way the political parties should have such tight control of the presidential primary -- or even a regular primary -- is to pick up the tab.

Walla Walla County's correct Internet address

The Internet address for Walla Walla County and its online survey for citizens was incorrect in Monday's newspaper.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in