LIVE from Renton: The May 2016 King County Democrats Endorsement Meeting

Good evening from Renton. Tonight, the King County Democrats are meeting to consider taking endorsement action in a number of contests, most of which will be decided by voters this August and September. This post will offer a running chronology of the meeting proceedings, including endorsement votes.

Note that the threshold for endorsement of the King County Democrats is a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.

  • 7:16 PM: We started on time at 7 PM and proceeded through the Pledge of Allegiance, adoption of the meeting agenda, adoption of meeting minutes, and adoption of endorsement ground rules. We are now hearing the preliminary committee report from Endorsements Chair Randy Gordon.
  • 8 PM: We are currently working on the slate. Executive board members have the opportunity to pull races from the slate, but there must be at least four seconds to pull a race for individual consideration. Races that have been pulled:
  • 8:04 PM: We are now voting on the slate.
  • 8:06 PM: We have adopted the slate by a vote of sixty-two to nothing. The following candidates have now been endorsed by the King County Democrats:
    • U.S. Representative, 1st Congressional District: Suzan DelBene
    • U.S. Representative, 9th Congressional District: Adam Smith
    • State Auditor: Jeff Sprung
    • State House, 11th Legislative District, Position #1: Zack Hudgins
    • State House, 11th Legislative District, Position #2: Steve Bergquist
    • State Senate, 11th Legislative District: Bob Hasegawa
    • State House, 33rd Legislative District, Position #1: Tina Orwall
    • State House, 33rd Legislative District, Position #2: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
    • State House, 34th Legislative District, Position #1: Eileen Cody
    • State House, 34th Legislative District, Position #2: Joe Fitzgibbon
    • State House, 37th Legislative District, Position #1: Sharon Tomiko Santos
    • State House, 37th Legislative District, Position #2: Eric Pettigrew
    • State House, 39th Legislative District, Position #1: Linda Wright
    • State House, 39th Legislative District, Position #2: Ronda Metcalf
    • State House, 46th Legislative District, Position #1: Gerry Pollet
    • State House, 46th Legislative District, Position #2: Jessyn Farrell
    • State House, 47th Legislative District, Position #2: Pat Sullivan
    • State House, 48th Legislative District, Position #1: Patty Kuderer
    • State House, 48th Legislative District, Position #2: Joan McBride
    • King County Superior Court, Position #26: David Keenan
    • King County Superior Court, Position #33: Steven Rosen
    • King County Superior Court, Position #52: Anthony Gipe
    • King County District Court, Southwest, Position #3: Laurel Gibson
    • King County District Court, West, Position #1: Lisa Paglisotti
    • King County District Court, West, Position #4: Greg Hirakawa
  • 8:08 PM: We are first considering U.S. Representative, 7th Congressional District. This is a race in which the Endorsements Committee has made no recommendation. Any motions to endorse will have to come from the floor.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Brady Walkinshaw. This failed by a vote of twenty-four to thirty.
    • A motion was then made from the floor to endorse Pramila Jayapal. This passed by a vote of forty to nineteen.
    • A motion was then made from the floor to endorse Joe McDermott. This failed by a vote of seventeen to twenty-eight.
  • 8:30 PM: We have moved on to U.S. Representative, 8th Congressional District.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. Fifty-two members of the executive board voted to endorse Santiago Ramos, with two opposed. He is endorsed.
    • We then considered a motion from the floor to endorse Alida Skold. By a vote of seventeen to twenty-six, the endorsement motion failed.
  • 8:33 PM: We have moved on to Lieutenant Governor. This is a race in which the Endorsements Committee has made no recommendation. Any motions to endorse will have to come from the floor.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Cyrus Habib. This passed by a vote of fifty-two to four.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Karen Fraser. This failed by a vote of thirty to sixteen.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Steve Hobbs. This failed due to a lack of seconds.
  • 8:44 PM: We have moved on to State Treasurer.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. Forty-five members of the executive board voted to endorse John Paul Comerford, with three opposed. He is endorsed.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Alec Fisken. This failed by a vote of ten to thirty-one.
  • 8:50 PM: We have moved on to Commissioner of Public Lands.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. Forty-two members of the executive board voted to endorse Hilary Franz, with one opposed. She is endorsed.
    • A motion was made from the floor to consider endorsing Dave Upthegrove. The motion failed by a vote of twenty-six to twenty-one.
  • 8:57 PM: We have moved on to King County Superior Court, Position #14.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. By a vote of fifty-seven to zero, Nicole Gaines-Phelps is endorsed.
    • A motion was made from the floor to endorse David Greenspan. The motion failed by a vote of three to thirty.
  • 9:03 PM: We have moved on to King County Superior Court, Position #43.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. By a vote of fifty-nine to zero, John McHale is endorsed.
  • 9:06 PM: We have moved on to King County Superior Court, Position #44.
    • We first considered the recommendation by the Endorsements Committee. By a vote of thirty-five to thirteen, Cathy Moore is endorsed.
    • A motion was made from the floor to endorse Eric Newman. By a vote of forty-seven to six, he is endorsed.
  • 9:14 PM: We have concluded our endorsement proceedings for this evening.

Primer on Washington’s 2016 Presidential Primary

This month, Washington State is holding a presidential primary. If you are registered to vote in King County or elsewhere in our great state, you should have received a ballot in the mail sometime between May 4th and May 7th. The following FAQ explains what this is all about and what you should do with your ballot.

Why is Washington holding a presidential primary?

Sample presidential primary ballot

In King County, the 2016 presidential primary ballot looks like this.

Washington is holding a presidential primary because state law requires it. In 1989, the Legislature approved Initiative 99, which stipulates that a presidential primary shall be held every four years on the fourth Tuesday in May.

Sometimes the Legislature cancels this election (as it did in 2012 and 2004), but in years like 2016, where there is no incumbent seeking reelection to the presidency, it has typically been held. Last year, the Legislature provided the funding needed to hold the election ($11.5 million), and so it is being held in accordance with the law.

Please note that the presidential primary is a unique and completely different election than the Top Two election we hold annually in August to narrow down the list of candidates who will appear on the general election ballot. Confusingly, state law and county elections officials call that election a primary, but it’s actually a qualifying election in which the top two vote getters advance regardless of party. In a true primary, people vote a party ballot and participate in the choosing of that party’s nominees. We have not held a true primary to choose nominees for state and local offices since 2007.

Wait a minute. I thought the Washington State Democratic Party had decided to use caucuses to allocate delegates to the Democratic National Convention…

That’s correct — we did! It is up to the Democratic and Republican parties to decide what to do with the results of the presidential primary. The parties may utilize the results for the purpose of determining how many national convention delegates each candidate should receive, but they don’t have to. A political party can nominate its candidates however it wishes. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees to us the right to freely assemble. How we go about choosing our party’s nominee for president is up to us to decide.

The Democratic Party requires that each state party come up with a Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan and submit that plan to the Democratic National Committee for its approval. Some state parties — like New York, California, and Oregon — use the results of a primary to determine how many delegates the Democratic presidential candidates should get from their state. Other states — like Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, or Washington — use caucuses instead.

The Democratic Party of Washington State has historically always used a caucus and convention system to allocate its national delegates, and your Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) decided last year to use that method again in 2016. We held our precinct caucuses on March 26th, legislative district caucuses on April 17th, and county conventions/legislative district subcaucuses on May 1st. Congressional district caucuses are up next, on May 21st. That’s where we’ll elect our first group of national convention delegates.

You can read our state party’s Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan here.

What are the Republicans doing?

The Washington State Republican Party previously decided to use the results of the presidential primary to allocate all of its forty-four national convention delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. However, the Republican contest is effectively over now that Ted Cruz and John Kasich have withdrawn. No matter what the outcome of the Republican primary is here in Washington, Donald Trump will remain the presumptive nominee.

Since the Democratic Party won’t be making use of the presidential primary results to allocate delegates, should I even bother to return my ballot?

Yes, you should. We strongly encourage you to mark your ballot for Hillary or Bernie and return it before May 24th. Even though this election is just a straw poll, it’s critical that we all participate. Let’s show our fellow Washingtonians and the mass media that we want a Democrat to succeed President Obama as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief… not Donald Trump.

Remember that for your vote to count, you can only vote for one candidate on one of the two party ballots. If you vote for Bernie or Hillary, you must check the box on the return envelope attesting that you are a Democratic voter and that you will not participate in any other party’s nominating process this year. Failure to do this will cause your ballot to be invalidated.

Caucus and convention information for 2016


Each even-numbered year, the Democratic Party holds caucuses and conventions to elect delegates and hear from candidates, as well as adopt resolutions and agree on a platform at the county and state levels.

All Washingtonians who identify as Democrats are encouraged to attend these events. There will be five events in this year’s caucus and convention cycle:

  1. the precinct caucuses on Saturday, March 26th, at 10 AM;
  2. the legislative district caucuses on Sunday, April 17th at 1 PM;
  3. the King County Democratic Convention at Hazen High on Sunday, May 1st, at 1 PM;
  4. the congressional district caucuses on Saturday, May 21st (10 AM anticipated start time);
  5. the Washington State Democratic Convention from June 17th – 19th (all day) in Tacoma.
    1. Opening ceremonies like the banquet dinner will take place on Friday, June 17th
    2. The Convention itself will take place on Saturday, June 18th, starting at 9 AM
    3. Selection of delegates to the Democratic National Convention will take place on Sunday, June 19th

These events will be followed by the Democratic National Convention from July 25th – 28th, 2016, in Philadelphia.

What were the results of the March 26th presidential precinct caucuses?

The Washington State Democratic Party has a page that shows the results of the March 26th presidential precinct caucuses.

What is a caucus? What happens at a caucus?

Very simply, a caucus is a meeting of Democratic voters and activists. It’s a chance to meet your Democratic neighbors and discuss who would be the best candidate to succeed President Obama as our country’s next leader. Participants elect delegates to the next level of caucuses for their presidential candidate of choice (e.g. Hillary or Bernie). Any Washingtonian who will be eighteen by November 8th, 2016, who considers themselves to be a Democrat, and is willing to publicly identify as a Democrat may participate in the caucuses.

I haven’t turned eighteen yet. Can I participate in the caucuses and conventions?

If you will turn eighteen by Election Day, November 8th, 2016, then yes, you may participate. Note that you can only vote at the upcoming congressional district caucuses and state convention if you were elected as a delegate or alternate to go to those events. You can run for delegate to the National Convention, but you must submit your declaration of candidacy by May 6th (to run at the congressional level) or June 10th (to run for a statewide at-large position). You may register to vote exactly as if you were already eighteen and King County Elections will simply hold your registration for activation on your birthday.

I am not a United States citizen. Can I participate in the caucuses and conventions?

You may attend as an observer/guest, but you may not vote unless you are a U.S. citizen and resident of Washington who is of age (or will be by November 8th).

King County Democrats remember George Zander

This morning, we lost former King County Democratic Chair George Zander, a pioneering advocate for LGBT rights. George led KCDCC in the early nineties; he resided in Palm Springs, California during the last years of his life. Tragically, he was the victim of a hate crime last month. The King County Democrats extend our deepest condolences to George’s husband Chris, George’s family, and all of George’s many friends. He will be missed.

Congratulations, Claudia!

In early returns, Democrat Claudia Balducci is decisively defeating Republican Jane Hague, becoming the first Democrat elected to the King County Council from the Eastside. This is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations, Claudia! We are very proud of you and look forward to seeing you take office as the 6th District’s new representative in a few weeks.

Claudia Balducci

Claudia Balducci speaks to the King County Democrats in August 2015 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve)