The 40th Legislative District Democrats kicked off their campaign season with a nominating convention Sunday, May 18th at the Anacortes library. The precinct committee officers met to nominate a candidate to fill the senate seat being vacated by Harriet Spanel.
"There has been an air of pent up excitement and excellent candidates have come forward" said Tom Pasma, chair of the 40th Legislative District. "This is the first opening we've had in the district in more than a decade".
Five Democratic candidates were in the race at Sunday's convention and several rounds of voting were expected. After each candidate was questioned individually, the first vote was taken and a strong margin of victory brought the process to a speedy resolution.
Using weighted voting based on the last presidential campaign, and after verifying that all ballots were signed, the final results from 436 weighted ballots yielded the following results: San Juan County Council Member Kevin Ranker received 242 votes for a total of 55%. Three candidates split the remaining 45% of the votes. The runner up was long-time Whatcom County Democratic party activist, Hue Beattie who received 94 weighted votes (22%). Third was Whatcom County Ken Henderson with who received 66 weighted votes (15%), followed by Stephanie Kountourous, also of Whatcom County who received 34 votes (8%). Paul Gonzales of Skagit County received no votes.
In accepting the nomination, Ranker said, "This nomination is a great affirmation of the momentum my campaign is building and my long time commitment to the Democratic Party. I am honored to have this nomination."
The local party has worked to create as open a process as possible that allows Democrats in the 40th Legislative District an opportunity to weigh in and select candidates who hope to be on the primary and general ballots. Following the recent Supreme Court decision that limits the names on the general ballot in November to the "top two" vote getters, the party has conducted a half dozen candidate forums. Additional meetings are being scheduled and the once crowded field is expected to narrow further by June 12th, the last day to formally withdraw so candidates' who have decided not to continue will not have their names on the primary ballot.
Tom Pasma, chair of the 40th Legislative District Democrats, and co-chairs from each county are scheduling endorsement meetings that will be held between June 7 and June 11.
To participate in the endorsement meetings, Democratic voters need to join the 40th Legislative District by May 26.
Application forms can be downloaded from http://www.wa40dems.net/ or picked up at county Democratic headquarters. The cost for individual memberships is $10 and $20 for families, but can be reduced or waived for hardship.