since former Congressman Rick White seems to be the most formidable candidate in the list provided in this article (absent Dino Rossi and Jennifer Dunn), how do you all think he will do against Sen. Maria Cantwell?
White House weighing in on strongest Cantwell rival
By Alicia Mundy
Seattle Times Washngton bureau
The White House has a message for would-be Republican challengers to Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell: No messy primary.
In November, Washington adopted a Louisiana-style election with a twist. Candidates from all parties can run on the primary ballot, with the top two regardless of party advancing to the general election, even if the leading candidate had a majority.
In a case a race against Cantwell, the primary would end up being a race to see which Republican finishes second. Since it is quite unlikely that Cantwell would be pushed to 3rd, Republican contenders would be battling each other to move on with perhaps as little as 25% of the vote. With the general election so close (Washington has a very late primary), it might be difficult to get supporters of the losing candidate(s) to back the Republican winner.
Pre-selecting a candidate puts the Republican candidate on an equal footing with Cantwell. A victory over Cantwell in the primary could energize supporters.
It would be interesting to see how a legal challenge of the new primary system will turn out. Washington previously (since the 1920s) used a so-called blanket primary, where voters were given a single primary ballot, and could vote in either party's ballot on a race by race basis. California adopted a similar system, which was then challenged in court. The US Supreme Court ruled that the California system was unconstitutional as a violation of the right of party members to freely associate with like-minded individuals, including the ability to exclude interlopers. Eventually, this ruling was applied to Washington.
California and Washington had argued that the party primaries were simply the first stage of a two step process by which the electorate chooses its officers. The plaintiffs successfully argued that even though the primaries are mandated by the state, that they were nonetheless part of the process by which parties formulated their policies and presented them to the voters. Several of the SC justices noted that the Louisiana system might pass muster because the parties were not selecting their candidate in the primary.
In a previous case, the Louisiana system was successfully challenged on the basis that federal elections were not being held on the November election date mandated by Congress, since the candidate was usually chosen in the primary election. After the legislature did not respond, the federal district court imposed the current calendar, where the primary for federal elections is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and a run-off is held later (as happened in 2 congressional races in 2004). The Louisiana legislature then went ahead and formally adopted the new calendar. I believe that Louisiana still uses the old calendar for state and local contests.
Washington possibly may not be subkect to such a challenge since the primary always will select two candidates (unless there is no opposition), even if the leading candidate receives a majority. If the parties are successful in limiting competition, Washington might had a rather odd system by which most elections are essentially 2-way races that are re-run after two months.