As the hospital board elections intensify, several interesting issues have arisen, including the allegation that a candidate’s having received the endorsement of a county party organization somehow improperly changes the election from nonpartisan to partisan.
As a retired judge who stood for election three times and had to learn the nonpartisan-election rules pretty much by heart, I suggest voters might consider the following.
Judicial elections are strictly nonpartisan in Washington, regulated not only by state law but by the Judicial Conduct Commission. Yet judges running for election are permitted to seek party endorsements, and in the larger counties usually do so. Some party organizations do not have the time or inclination to endorse judicial candidates, and so in some places and times endorsements are made only by one party.
Let me reiterate that in this state few, if any, elections are more strictly nonpartisan than judicial elections; judicial candidates can be sanctioned for saying they are associated with a named party.
Yet nobody believes party endorsements turns nonpartisan judicial elections into partisan ones, and none of the judges I have personally known in Washington considered themselves beholden to a party organization that endorsed them.
Evidently in this election, the Republican party did not consider the request of one candidate for endorsement. The year I ran in a hotly contested judicial election, that was also the case: the county GOP simply wasn’t doing endorsements in the King County judicial election.
It is likewise interesting that one of the candidates for the hospital board has been chair of the county Republican Party and is currently its delegate to the statewide party, yet this apparently does not seem to suggest unseemly partisanship to the defenders of electoral impartiality.
San Juan Island