The 2012 presidential primary could be cancelled under a bill state representatives moved out of committee today.
House Bill 1324, which would keep Washington’s caucus but call off its presidential primary for a year to save about $10 million, made it out of the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee in a, bipartisan, 9-2 vote.
“I think that in this particular year, in this particular situation that we’re in that $10 million goes a long way toward education and healthcare, and that’s why the bill’s there,” said Rep. Sherry Appleton, a Poulsbo Democrat and the prime sponsor of the House proposal.
As it now stands, Washington has both a primary and a caucus in which voters can participate to choose presidential candidates. The state Legislature adopted a primary system on top of the caucuses in 1989 in response to a voter initiative that said primaries made it easier for older people and people with disabilities to participate in the selection process.
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Historically, the Republican Party has used results from both Washington’s primary and caucus in selecting its presidential candidate, while the Democratic Party has only used the caucus.
Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, voted against the bill in committee. He said he was reluctant to support any proposal that would take away voting opportunities for Washington residents and, given the $5.1 billion shortfall the state faces over the next two years, the savings from this bill would not make a big difference.
“I don’t think a $10 million savings makes or breaks our budget,” Taylor said.