October 8, 2004

For immediate release

Minor parties benefit from I-872; Grange dispels myths

The Washington State Grange announced today that the effects of the qualifying (or "top-two") primary proposed in Initiative 872 could serve to benefit minor parties in primary elections for legislative races. This is contrary to arguments made recently by opponents of the initiative, who have irresponsibly stated that I-872 will shut out minor parties.

"We've done some research on this issue, and it turns out that the doom and gloom scenarios painted by our opponents are simply not true," said Grange President Terry Hunt. "We looked at legislative elections in 2000 and 2002, and we found that a significant number of third party candidates would have made it to the general election under a qualifying primary."

The Grange's research concluded that, in the primary election of 2000, a total of 13 minor party candidates for the legislature would have advanced to the general election had the top-two system been in place at that time. In three of those races, the minor party candidates actually received a higher proportion of the vote than one or more of the major party candidates in those races. In 2002, four legislative races would have advanced minor party candidates to the general election under the qualifying primary.

"These figures assume that the dynamics of the qualifying primary will be the same as they were under the blanket primary," said Grange Elections Specialist Don Whiting. "Because a qualifying primary is more competitive than a nominating primary, we could even see more minor party candidates for legislative offices at this ‘grass roots' level.

"We recognize that candidates' strategies and the mix of candidates might also have changed if the ‘rules' governing the primary were different," explained Whiting, "but the results of this research do give a general idea of what the effect might be."

"This just goes to show that the political parties either have really not thought this issue through, or they are deliberately putting out false arguments in an attempt to deceive and confuse the voters," said Hunt. "The truth is that minor party candidates have just as good of a chance of succeeding under a qualifying primary as anyone else.

"We think the voters are smarter than the opposition apparently does, and we're grateful to be in a position to stand up for the rights of the voters in this state," Hunt continued. "The Grange believes that the people should decide what kind of primary election they want, not the political parties. And that's exactly what we're giving them the opportunity to do."

Click here for a PDF chart listing the legislative races in which minor party candidates would have advanced to the general election in 2000 and 2002.


For more information, contact David Burr, Communications Director, (360) 943-9911.