Washington needs a 2016 presidential primary that’s not merely a “beauty contest” but will count in allocating Democratic and Republican convention delegates, Secretary of State Kim Wyman argued Tuesday. Wyman is asking the Legislature to revive the primary and to give it clout. She will run into resistance. The state’s Democratic and Republican parties are long wedded to their presidential caucuses, which maximize influence of party activists and provide lists of names for fundraising. “My goal is to secure a voice for our Washington voters with a plan that assures a meaningful election where the results are used to allocate at least part of the national convention delegates from our state,” said Wyman, the state’s lone Republican statewide elected official. Wyman estimated that the primary would cost $11.5 million, the bulk of the money to reimburse costs incurred by the state’s 39 counties.
Washington voters did help decide presidential nominees in one recent election. In 2000, ex-New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley staked everything on the Evergreen State after losing early Democratic primaries and caucuses to Vice President Al Gore. He had a nucleus of Northwest supporters that included Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Seattle Mayor Paul Schell. Gore won handily, and Bradley soon dropped out of the race.
The insurgency of Sen. John McCain was at high tide in 2000. McCain drew big crowds, and such supporters as ex-Gov. Dan Evans and Edith Derby Roosevelt Williams, granddaughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. But U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., rallied support for Texas Gov. George Bush, who narrowly prevailed in a win that signaled McCain’s decline.