The Washington State Libertarian Party, in a lawsuit filed on Thursday, claims the Republican Party is not a major player in this state and its presidential nominee, presumably Gov. Mitt Romney, does not deserve a spot on the November ballot.
The suit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, seeks an order declaring that the “Washington State Republican Party is ‘minor party’ for purposes of the 2012 general election and directing the Secretary of State to issue ballots for the November election that do not contain the printed name of any Republican Party nominee. (Although the Republican nominee may run as a write-in.)”
Defendants in the case are Secretary of State Sam Reed, the Washington State Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Romney campaign’s Washington state chair.
The distinction is a product of the state’s change from a primary system in which voters are required to state a party preference and vote only for candidates from that party to one allowing primary voters to vote for candidates of any party with the top two finishers advancing to the general election.
Under the current system, the Libertarians assert, state law requires political parties to hold a nominating convention to select a single candidate for the general election. The Republicans in 2010, however, neglected to do so in the senatorial race against incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.
Instead, both Dino Rossi and Clint Didier were placed on the state primary ballot and listed their party affiliation as “prefers Republican.” Rossi eventually prevailed in the primary but lost to Murray in the general election.
“Because the Top-2 primary election results did not nominate Mr. Rossi as the nominee of the Republican Party,” the lawsuit alleges, “and because the Republican Party did not choose a nominee as between Mr. Rossi and Mr. Didier at its convention, there was no Republican Party nominee who received at least 5 percent of the votes in the 2010 general election, and accordingly by law, following the 2010 general election, the Republican Party became a “minor” political party under Washington State’s election law.”
State Republican Chair Kirby Wilbur said he considers the lawsuit frivolous.
“Dino Rossi was nominated by this party in August 2010,” he said.
While the nomination didn’t occur at the formal convention, Rossi did win the party’s blessing at a state board after defeating Didier in the primary.
“We have legal documents that show that,” Wilbur said, noting that Republicans will seek to have the case dismissed.”