Libertarians try to block Romney from Wash. ballot

Libertarians try to block Romney from Wash. ballot

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NORFOLK, VA - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) wave as Ryan is announced as his running mate aboard the USS Wisconsin August 11, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia. Ryan, a seven term congressman, is Chairman of the House Budget Committee and provides a strong contrast to the Obama administration on fiscal policy. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on August 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 16 at 6:43 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Libertarian Party has filed a lawsuit to block Mitt Romney from the November ballot in Washington state, arguing that the GOP no longer qualifies as a major political party, officials said Thursday.

The filing in Thurston County contends that Republicans do not get an automatic slot on the ballot because state law defines major parties as those that receive 5 percent of the vote in a statewide race during a November general election in even years. Republican Dino Rossi did get 48 percent of the vote in the U.S. Senate race two years ago but wasn't officially nominated by the party at its convention, and Washington's top-two primary system is not considered a nominating process.

State election officials, led by Republican Sam Reed, said that law was essentially repealed by a voter-approved initiative in 2004 that scrapped the party primaries in favor of the top-two system. Since then, the state has adopted an administrative code allowing parties to qualify as major political parties if their presidential tickets get more than 5 percent of the vote in the last White House vote.

Looking at the results of the last presidential election in 2008, the state believes both Republicans and Democrats automatically qualify to have their candidates on the November ballot.

John Mills, an attorney handling the case for the Libertarian Party, said the statutes cannot be repealed or changed by an agency -- only the Legislature.

"As a legal matter, that's kind of a frivolous argument," Mills said. The Legislature hasn't repealed the old laws, and an effort to make those changes a few years ago failed.

State GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur called the lawsuit a "silly matter."

"Dino Rossi was nominated by this party in August 2010," he said, noting that at a state board meeting after the 2010 state Republican convention and primary, Rossi was officially endorsed by the party.

"We have legal documents that show that" and Republicans will seek to have the case dismissed, Wilbur said.

Minor parties, such as the Libertarians, can get on Washington's ballot by holding a nominating convention within the state and collecting at least 1,000 qualifying signatures, but that deadline has passed.

The lawsuit asserts that the GOP ticket can now only run a write-in campaign in Washington. An attorney for the Libertarian Party did not return a call seeking comment.

Libertarian Party of Washington suit to remove Mitt Romney from 2012 ballot

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