Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 9, 2003
Contact: Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Gov. Gary Locke Signs Legislation Canceling 2004 Non-binding Presidential PrimaryOLYMPIA – Dec. 9, 2003 – Gov. Gary Locke today signed legislation canceling Washington’s 2004 non-binding presidential primary. Lawmakers passed the legislation (House Bill 2297) during a special session the governor called on Dec. 5.
“Canceling the non-binding presidential primary will save taxpayers more than $6 million,” Locke said. “This money can instead be used to help fund essential programs such as education and healthcare.”
The governor called the special session because the presidential primary election is not needed next year since neither party will use the results in nominating a presidential candidate in 2004.
The Democratic Party chooses its candidates through party caucuses, and does not use the results of the primary. Republicans choose only a portion of their delegates through primaries, but the nomination of President Bush is a foregone conclusion.
“What we gain by getting rid of next year’s presidential primary election is more money for needed programs,” said Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House. “We don’t lose a thing since neither party will use the results.”
Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, was the prime sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “The taxpayers are the real winners today,” he said. “Democracy cannot be predicated on elections where your votes don’t count, and that’s what the 2004 presidential primary would have amounted to.”
Locke pointed out that legislation was needed now because acting in January would not result in the same savings. County auditors would have to begin preparations for the primary before the Legislature meets in regular session. The auditors estimate that they would have to spend more than $2.4 million in preparations before January if the primary were not canceled now.