Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might be on track to win Washington state — but she may collect only 11 of the state’s 12 electoral votes if she can’t win over local Democrat Robert Satiacum.
Satiacum, who supported U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the primary, is one of Washington state’s 12 Democratic electors. As such, he has pledged to cast an electoral vote for Clinton should she win the state Nov. 8.
However, Satiacum says he’s not sure he can follow through with that promise. He said he sees Clinton as not that different from her Republican opponent, businessman Donald Trump.
“I have two people that come from the same canoe, they come from the same cloth,” said Satiacum, who lives in University Place.
“I’m not going to pick the lesser of two evils — I’m not going to pick the lesser of two poisons.”
Satiacum is a citizen of the Puyallup Tribe and host of “Tribal Talk,” a program on KLAY Talk Radio that broadcasts in the Tacoma and Lakewood area.
He said he dislikes Clinton’s environmental policies, and thinks she will do too little to protect clean water and divest the nation from fossil fuels. He criticized her Wall Street ties and said she and other politicians aren’t in touch with issues important to Native Americans.
“She’s not good for Indian Country,” Satiacum said Thursday.
Democrats in Washington state chose their electors during party caucuses and conventions earlier this year.
Should Clinton win the state, Satiacum and the other 11 Democratic electors are to travel to Olympia on Dec. 19 to cast their votes for her.
If Satiacum refuses to do so, he faces a $1,000 penalty. He said the fine won’t persuade him to vote against his conscience, but he has yet to decide what he’ll do.
“On Dec. 19 when it’s time to go down there, we’ll see what happens on that day,” Satiacum said. “Right now, I can’t with clear conscience and good heart write her name on that certificate.”
State Democratic Party officials aren’t worried about Satiacum’s decision affecting the outcome of the November election, a party spokesman said in an emailed statement.
“We are confident that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency and that our down-ballot candidates will win election,” wrote Marc Siegel of the Washington State Democrats.
Should Satiacum break his pledge, it wouldn’t be the first time a “faithless elector” in Washington has cast an electoral vote for someone other than their party’s nominee.
In 1976, Mike Padden — now a Republican state senator from Spokane Valley — cast his vote for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford, who won Washington state that year.
Padden declined to comment for this story until after the November election. In 2000, he told The New York Times Magazine he cast a protest vote for Reagan in 1976 to “highlight Gov. Reagan’s support of the pro-life cause.”
Padden told the magazine he wouldn’t have made that choice if it would have changed the outcome of the election.
Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter by a margin of 57 electoral college votes. Reagan went on to defeat Carter and win the presidency in 1980.
After Padden’s action, Washington lawmakers passed the law imposing the $1,000 fine for electors who cast votes for someone other than their party’s nominee.