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.
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.