As one credible theory would have it, the method the state Democrats are currently using to choose their "official" nominees for office is a ploy to demonstrate to the courts that the "top-two" primary approved by voters in 2004 is a disaster, and should be overturned.
If the snafus currently underway in North Seattle's 46th legislative district are any indication, their strategy is working.
In that race, former district chair Scott White is facing off against longtime anti-Hanford activist Gerry Pollet. Or was facing off; or is again—it isn't quite clear. First, there was an ugly nomination battle that left Pollet with the "official" nomination but gave White the satisfaction of a guarantee, via mutual agreement, that Pollet would not mention his official nomination on his voter statement or in his campaign literature.
Then on Friday, June 13, White—reportedly suffering from pneumonia and despondent—decided to withdraw from the race.
What happened next remains unclear. According to sources close to White's campaign (White did not return calls for comment), White changed his mind, decided to stay in the race, and told King County Elections he was withdrawing his withdrawal. White's campaign, Elections, and the Washington secretary of state's office all say he never officially withdrew from the race. Instead, he merely "contemplated" withdrawing, according to one account, or filed the form too late for it to matter, according to another.
However, as of Friday afternoon, the King County website clearly listed White as "withdrawn." Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, says King County's notice that White had withdrawn was only "unofficial." Pollet disagrees, arguing that once a nominee has filed a form for withdrawal, they're "done."
"The law says, you file that form, you've withdrawn," says Pollet.
In a letter to several state officials, Pollet fumed that "it violates public policy to [allow a candidate] to vacillate being in, being out, and being in again." In a letter, Pollet asked the secretary of state to tell King County that it can't reinstate White as a candidate. If it does turn out White withdrew and he continues to pursue election, Pollet says, "he'll have to go get a lawyer."
Meanwhile, at last weekend's state Democratic Party convention, the already apoplectic Pollet received another blow: White, having failed to win the endorsement of his district, was listed alongside Pollet as the district's official nominee—a legal impossibility.
Neither White's consultant Christian Sinderman nor 46th District chair Javier Valdez had any idea why both names were listed as nominees, and state party chair Dwight Pelz did not return a call for comment.