Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Washington Democrats Will Allocate Delegates in March, but How?

Last week the Washington State Democratic Party released and opened for public comment their draft delegate selection plan for 2020. Only, rather than just one plan, the party released two plans contingent on the mode of delegate allocation the party opts to use during its April 7 central committee meeting. In doing this, the party has made the primary or caucus question the one most likely to draw public comment in the next thirty days before the central committee votes.

And bear in mind that while those comments are not binding on the decision of the state central committee, they are submitted along with the draft delegate selection plan of choice to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee as part of the plan approval process. Under the hypothetical scenario, then, that the party chooses to continue with the caucus/convention system as the means by which delegates from the state will be allocated and selected even in the face of public support for the primary, the party would have some explaining to do before the RBC. And that is doubly true considering 1) the Democratic primary bill that has made its way through the Washington state legislature is more likely than not to be signed into law and 2) the RBC will be operating under the guidance of Rule 2.K in which "[state] parties are encouraged to use government-run primaries."

In that situation, the Washington State Democratic Party would have to make a very persuasive case to the RBC for why the party chose caucuses over the primary pushed through and passed by a Democratic-controlled state government. And the Democratic bill got the green light -- that it would be consistent with DNC rules -- from RBC member and WSDP parliamentarian, David McDonald during the committee hearings in each legislative chamber.

That is a tough sell.

It seems, then, that the best case to be made for retaining the caucuses is one in which there is a groundswell of support for it in this public comment stage followed by a state central committee vote in favor of the caucuses.

But assuming Governor Inslee (D) signs SB 5273, then it is quite likely the party opts for the primary.

Regardless of which option is chosen on April 7 in Washington, the two plans do clearly indicate a couple of important timing points. First, the date listed for the primary in the primary plan is March 10. It is clear then that the state party is assuming the primary bill heading to Inslee's desk -- the one moving the primary from May to March -- will be signed into law. Additionally, the alternate caucuses plan includes a Saturday, March 21 date for precinct caucuses should that plan be adopted and approved by the RBC. Should the party move in that direction, it would constitute a caucus/convention process that begins on the third Saturday in March rather than the fourth Saturday in March on which the precinct caucuses were held in 2016.

Washington State Legislation Would Again Try to Move Presidential Primary to March

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