Politics & Government

Cruz, Kasich, Carson can win delegates in Washington’s presidential primary

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz announces his decision to withdraw from the presidential nomination race during a primary night campaign event May 3 in Indianapolis.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz announces his decision to withdraw from the presidential nomination race during a primary night campaign event May 3 in Indianapolis. The Associated Press

A week before the state’s presidential primary, more than 20 percent of Washington voters had already returned their ballots.

But why are people voting at all, some readers ask, given that Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate left in the race and Democrats will ignore the primary results?

While it’s true that Democrats are using caucuses — not Tuesday’s primary — to allocate delegates to presidential candidates, Republicans are still relying on the primary results to award delegates to candidates at the Republican National Convention.

In fact, some of Washington’s 44 Republican delegates could still go to candidates who have dropped out of the race.

Should Trump fail to win a majority of the vote in any of the state’s 10 congressional districts, other candidates could claim a delegate from that district, provided they win at least 20 percent of votes there. Candidates who have dropped out also could win a share of the state’s 14 at-large delegates, provided they win at least 20 percent of the statewide vote.

833,000 Washington voters who had returned ballots for the presidential primary as of Tuesday

4,088,397 Number of registered voters in Washington state

20.3% Percentage of ballots returned as of Tuesday

That could lead to Trump’s former rivals — Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson — winning some of Washington’s delegates, since all three former presidential contenders remain on the state’s primary ballot.

Susan Hutchison, the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, said the party’s proportional rules for allocating delegates make it “very important people vote” in Tuesday’s primary.

In Oregon, which also uses a proportional system for allocating delegates, Cruz and Kasich each managed to pick up three delegates Tuesday, despite Trump winning the state’s primary with 67 percent of the vote.

“Ted Cruz decided to drop out right before our primary, but he may still get votes,” Hutchison said Wednesday. “It counts.”

Ted Cruz decided to drop out right before our primary, but he may still get votes... It counts.

Susan Hutchison, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, on the importance of Tuesday’s presidential primary

It counts in the sense that Washington’s support for rival candidates will be registered at the Republican National Convention, during which the delegate allocations from each state will be announced and recorded.

Yet it is unlikely to change the impending reality that Trump, a real estate mogul and reality TV persona, will be the Republican nominee for president.

Trump needs 1,237 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination. After his victory in Oregon Tuesday, he needs only 77 more delegates to reach that goal. Between the six states that have yet to hold Republican primaries or caucuses, there are 347 delegates up for grabs.

We do not use the primary to allocate delegates, and are not promoting the primary.

Jamal Raad, spokesman for the Washington State Democrats

On the Democratic side, Tuesday’s primary election acts as more of a poll — it doesn’t directly affect the presidential contest. In March, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders easily defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington’s precinct caucuses, picking up 73 percent of precinct-level delegates.

The state’s 101 delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be allocated proportionally based on the caucus results, in a ratio that will be finalized at congressional district caucuses Saturday. (The results are expected to mirror those of the March precinct caucuses).

As of Tuesday, about 833,000 Washington voters had returned ballots for the presidential primary. Washington has 4,088,397 registered voters.

Because Democrats are using the caucus system, state party spokesman Jamal Raad said the party isn’t actively encouraging Democratic voters to participate in Tuesday’s primary.

“We do not use the primary to allocate delegates, and are not promoting the primary,” Raad said.

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