Washington state’s primary later this month packs less of a punch with Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the Republican presidential contest.
Republicans will still use the results of the May 24 election to allocate the state’s 44 delegates, but with no other candidates, Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
The state had been preparing for visits from all three candidates in the coming days, but it was unclear Wednesday, May 4, whether even Trump would still visit Saturday.
Independent pollster Stuart Elway said that’s always the risk with a primary that lands late on the election calendar.
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“Events have overtaken us,” he said.
Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system, but Democrats ignore the results of the statewide primary and use only the caucus system to allocate 101 delegates to candidates at the national convention. Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the state’s Democratic caucuses on March 26.
Republicans are holding their state convention to select delegates in two weeks, the week before the primary. The state Republican Party had just announced Tuesday that Kasich was set to attend the convention on May 19, but party spokesman Steve Beren said Wednesday that now, “presumably all bets are off.”
There will be 44 Republican delegates from Washington state at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer, 30 of whom will be allocated proportionally based on the results of the 10 congressional districts, and 14 to be awarded proportionally based on the results of the May 24 statewide vote.
Some are already questioning whether the primary should be held at all. Democrat Tina Podlodowski – who is running against incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman – called on Wyman to cancel “this taxpayer-funded empty exercise immediately.”
“It’s time to put a halt to meaningless presidential primaries in Washington State,” Podlodowski said in a written statement Wednesday. “It makes no sense to waste further taxpayer dollars on this effort just to build voter lists for the Republican Party.”
Wyman spokesman David Ammons said that 65,000 military and overseas ballots were sent out weeks ago and that some counties started sending ballots to the state’s 4 million voters this week. Whatcom County ballots were mailed Wednesday.
“It is impossible to cancel an election that is already underway,” Ammons wrote in an email.
Ammons said that the $11.5 million price tag for the election is a cost that was approved by both parties and chambers in the Legislature, and signed off on by the governor.
He also noted that last year Wyman had pushed for moving the primary to March. That effort, opposed by Democrats, failed to get the two-thirds vote required by the Presidential Primary Date Selection Committee.
“The primary continues to be a way to let the broad electorate indicate their favored candidates for the nominations,” Ammons wrote.
Voters must indicate party
Just for the presidential primary, Washington state voters must choose a party, and the candidate they vote for must match that. A record of the selected party is maintained for 60 days and then removed from voter registration information, Whatcom County Auditor Debbie Adelstein said.
Some voters do not participate in the presidential primary because they do not want to indicate a party.