July 07, 2011
In Defense of Sam Reed

I've had many problems with Sam Reed's execution of his duties as Secretary of State. But I also think about the good things he's done and how bad it could have been otherwise.

Consider if Jay Inslee, for example, were Secretary of State. Would he have worked as hard to clean up the voter rolls, or required identification at polling places?

If Bill Gates Sr. came up to Inslee with an initiative titled, "Initiative Measure No. 1070 concerns taxation," would Inslee have forced them to change the title to something like, "Initiative Measure No. 1098 concerns establishing an income tax and reducing other taxes"?

I doubt it.

Now, granted, for every positive I could name, I'm sure many of you could name multiple negatives. We could have a debate on whether the law really did require him to certify Gregoire as the winner, or even if not, whether he exercised his discretion properly. I could rant for long hours about the idiocy of a blanket primary, and of a "top two" primary, or any other primary that doesn't fit the purpose of nominating candidates. I could go off on how terrible it is that Reed has helped spearhead the destruction of the secret ballot in Washington with the now-near-universal vote-at-home system.

But for all his faults, and for all our disagreements, Sam's been a conscientious and fair-minded public servant who has done a lot of good, and has done far more good than many on the left would have done in his place.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at July 07, 2011 12:40 PM | Email This
Comments
1. I'll have more to say about Sam Reed's career, but technical correction -- it's not the Secretary of State that writes the initiative titles, but the Attorney General's office, and subject to judicial review.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on July 7, 2011 12:47 PM
2. Ah, I thought Reed was involved, and that the AG only had a veto later. Thanks.

My point stands!

Posted by: pudge on July 7, 2011 12:59 PM
3. As a public official in this State...probably in majority ot tenures - as good as it gets. :)

Posted by: Duffman on July 7, 2011 01:38 PM
4. Top Two should be done in every State and will hopefully be Mr. Reed's biggest, and well earned, legacy. Partisan folks who think otherwise are cowards of the real public, right and left.

Posted by: Douglas Tooley on July 7, 2011 04:03 PM
5. If Jay Inslee were Secretary of State, Republicans at least would have run an alternative. Sam Reed is our own fault.

Posted by: T.J. on July 7, 2011 04:08 PM
6. Douglas: please, explain how I am a coward.

I suppose you think that I am "afraid" of allowing non-partisans to choose candidates. Not remotely, no.

I do recognize the fact that a party has the absolute constitutional right candidate to choose its own candidate, and I also recognize -- as the Supreme Court did -- that the Top Two may not provide enough protection for this (but, they said, there was not enough evidence that it does not, to overturn it yet; this may change).

But I don't care if the party chooses its candidates through a public primary, or through private caucuses and conventions. If we just got rid of the primary, I'd be fine with that.

If anyone is a coward here, Douglas, it's most likely you. Please tell me: why have a primary at all? Most people answer that they don't want that many candidates on the ballot; that is, they are "afraid" of too much choice. But how is that different from having them on the "primary" ballot? As our state has conceded, we essentially now have a two-stage general election ... we don't even really have a primary anymore.

So if you're not "afraid" of having too many people on the ballot, then why have a "primary" at all?

And why even have the party "preference" on the ballot?

My problem with Top Two -- which, by the way, was FAR more deceptive in its passage than any of Tim Eyman's initiatives, because the Grange claimed over and over that we would "get back" the blanket primary, which was a damned lie -- is that it is just plain stupid. It tries to solve an unsolvable problem -- giving us a blanket primary that doesn't actually function as a primary -- and in the process gives us something that serves no rational purpose, and, perhaps worse, eliminates virtually all third-party and independent candidates from the November ballot.

In sum, the Top Two is anti-democratic in a multitude of ways: it wastes money, it serves no purpose, it eliminates November ballot access to most candidates, it creates a fiction that candidates are actually associated with parties they may not be associated with ... and on and on and on. There's nothing good about the Top Two at all.

Posted by: pudge on July 7, 2011 04:36 PM
7. Pudge, agree with your #6. But I'd go further--let's get rid of the primary altogether. Then, if a political party wishes to contract with the various county elections departments to handle the voting for their party's primary, fine. (I don't see this as horning in on the private sector, county-wide elections are kind of special and don't really represent the government taking over what should be a private-sector task--and then, theoretically, who is going to be better experienced at running a large-scale election than the county elections departments?)

This should by no means be a requirement, however; if a party or other group wishes to nominate, or endorse, candidates via a smoke-filled back room, casting lots, or any other method, who cares?? As long as the actual members of that party are happy with their selection process, have at it.

Posted by: Kirk Parker on July 8, 2011 12:09 AM
8. Sorry. I would rather have a genuine democrat then a fake Republican. On this, sadly, we'll never agree.

As secstate, Reed would have been a great democrat. As a GOP'er, he was an abysmal failure on the issues that count the most: voter identification and security of the process, and, of course, his complete idiocy over the felon voter issue.

He did nothing to require proof of citizenship to register to vote and has remained noticeably absent from the driver's license issue.

In short, where it matters?

He won't be missed.

Posted by: hinton on July 8, 2011 01:01 AM
9. Kirk: Pudge, agree with your #6. But I'd go further--let's get rid of the primary altogether.

My view is that this should be up to the people: either allow the parties to control the primary, or do not have a primary because it serves no purpose and is a waste of time and money and harms our democracy by keeping minor candidates off the November ballot.

I don't care which the people choose.


Then, if a political party wishes to contract with the various county elections departments to handle the voting for their party's primary, fine.

I will just point out the fact that this WILL NOT happen, because the parties simply cannot afford such a thing. There's no chance. I am not disagreeing with your point, I am just saying that if someone holds that view because they want the parties to run the primary, it's just not going to work. The only way we can have a nominating primary is if the government pays for it, and I don't have a problem with that: the parties benefit by more involvement from the public, but since the public wants to be involved, they pay for it. It works well, except that people in Washington -- mostly because of historical reasons -- falsely believe that they have some God-given right to associate themelves with both parties at the same time.

If those people would disavow themselves of this false notion -- which has been unfortunately championed by Sam Reed -- we could have stuck with the far more sane nominating system we had before Top Two came along.


This should by no means be a requirement, however; if a party or other group wishes to nominate, or endorse, candidates via a smoke-filled back room, casting lots, or any other method, who cares?? As long as the actual members of that party are happy with their selection process, have at it.

Absolutely.

Posted by: pudge on July 8, 2011 07:22 AM
10. A true leader will lead and take the hits as the price of his duty. Sam Reed failed to lead as Secretary of State - twice. First, he should not have certified the second governor recount due to blatant corruption in King County elections, but instead certified the first recount and asked for a federal investigation into King County.
Secondly, Sam Reed's Office, when testifying on proposed legislation to place more restrictions on the initiative process, actually suggested how to help the bill instead of lambasting it and defending the citizens of Washington. Sam Reed was a weak Sec of State. Best to him personally, but good riddance.

Posted by: Freedom Lives on July 9, 2011 08:11 AM
11. Agreed, Pudge.

Posted by: Michele on July 10, 2011 07:39 PM
12. Good Post Pudge, and good additional comments. Agree with your stance on this one.

Posted by: tc on July 13, 2011 11:59 AM
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