Washington state Republicans are admirably thinking beyond their own political power, which unfortunately is not what’s happening in the heads of state Democrats.
State Republican leaders recently agreed that their delegates to the national convention will vote for presidential nominees based on results in the state primary election.
It is a generous move that reflects a willingness to put voter wishes above party control, unlike the Democrats.
Republicans will elect national delegates at their state convention — which happens to be in Pasco next year — just a few days before the May 24 state primary election. GOP leaders have pledged three delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis for each congressional district, and eleven delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis based on the state vote.
The Democrats, however, have a different philosophy. Earlier this year, its leadership selfishly defeated plans to move the presidential primary election to March 8 and sabotaged the chance for Washington voters to have more say in the presidential campaign.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman wanted to hold the presidential primary election one week after Super Tuesday, March 1, which would have put Washington in the mix early on and conceivably entice candidates to visit and campaign.
The Republican members of the Presidential Primary Committee backed Wyman’s plan, but the Democratic members did not and the proposal failed. There is a grass-roots movement pressuring Wyman to try again, but it would have to happen before Oct. 1. Wyman said she would reconvene the meeting only if the Democrats indicated they changed their minds. It would be great if they did.
The way the system is set up, the parties are not legally bound to consider primary election results when they allocate delegates. The Republicans have, in the past, allocated as many as half of their delegates based on the outcome of the state presidential primary. The Democrats never have.
Political caucuses are limited and less inclusive. Not everyone can find their way to a caucus meeting, but everyone eligible to vote can cast a ballot.
Washington state Democrats made an agreement with Hawaii and Alaska Democrats to hold their caucuses March 26, forming a Western Regional Caucus. Their leadership seems bent on keeping the party line rather than acknowledging the voice of the typical Washington voter.
That’s a shame. The caucus system has its place, but it is not a system that truly represents the will of most state residents. Republicans get that.
It’s disheartening the Democrats don’t.