Tuesday, December 6, 2016
By Evan Smith
Washington Libertarians have qualified to become the state's third major political party, by the thinest of margins.
They will get major-party status for the next four years because their presidential candidate ended up with at least 5 percent of the statewide votes for president in the November 8 general election.
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld took 5.01 percent of the statewide votes.
That's well short of the 7 percent that an Elway Washington poll showed for the Libertarian ticket in October and the 9 percent that a similar poll showed in September.
The November vote percentage for Libertarian and other minor-party candidates was kept low because 4.57 percent of Washington voters either cast write-in votes or left the presidential line blank on their ballots.
Major party status for Libertarians means that we'll see elections for Libertarian precinct committee officers in the 2018 and 2020 primary elections. It will mean that Libertarian precinct committee officers can meet to nominate replacements for any elected Libertarian office holders who resign or die. It means that Libertarians will get a position in the 2020 presidential primary, meaning that we'll have a choice of voting for Libertarian candidates as well as for Democrats or Republicans and that we'll see a Libertarian section in a presidential-primary voters' pamphlet. Finally, it means that the Libertarian presidential ticket will get a position right behind the Democrats and Republicans on the 2020 general-election ballot.
The Libertarians are well prepared for major-party status. They've been recruiting precinct committee officers and PCO candidates.
They had a 2016 attorney general candidate who won won 32.8 percent of the statewide general-election votes against incumbent Democrat Bob Ferguson, and four other statewide candidates who lost in the primary.
They had 10 legislative candidates around the state in the general election, including Stephanie Heart Viscovich in Lake Forest Park and the rest of the 46th District, and they had 10 more who lost in the primary.
While they had no general-election candidates for congressional positions, they had four others who ran in the primary.
The Green Party, on the other hand, fell far short of qualifying for major-party status when presidential candidate Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka took only 1.82 percent of the statewide November vote. The Greens showed little evidence of being prepared for major-party status. They had no state or local candidates and only one candidate for Congress.