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Splitting the blanket

"So, did everyone enjoy their final blanket primary?Looking at the voter turnout - which may hit, what, 48 percent in Kitsap County, when all the absentees are counted - Washington's venerable one-ballot-for-all free-for-all went out less with a bang than a yawn.Still, it may have provided a good example of why the blanket ballot was so loathed by the major parties. Local Democrats were quick to blame GOP crossover voters for the ouster of incumbent Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido (dare we call it...Charlotte's ebb?), bested by challenger Dusty Wiley while Republican Jan Angel nested comfortably in the wings without a primary opponent. We have no idea if it was an organized effort by the GOP; we suspect Democrats would have been happy to do the same thing given the chance, were it not for the county's ongoing shortage of Republican incumbents.But the blanket primary ballot is gone, struck down by a court ruling that said it infringed on the rights of the parties, as political organizations, to select their own candidates. So what will follow? Now would be a good time to ask our candidates for secretary of state - island resident and former congressman Don Bonker, and Thurston County Auditor Sam Reed - what they'd like to see in its place. Any changes are going to have to be approved by the Legislature, but the next secretary of state will no doubt be a key player in what's shaped.Some pundits - count us among them - have cast early support for an open primary in which the top two primary finishers, regardless of party, move on to the general election. Besides giving minor parties and truly independent voters a bit more clout, it creates an immediate disincentive for crossing lines just to foul another party's works. And it puts the proper focus on candidates and issues, rather than party ties.For 65 years, Washington enjoyed the blanket primary ballot; we suspect that as much as an independent streak, it reflected a savvy understanding that what's good for the parties isn't necessarily what's good for the electorate. We hope Don Bonker and Sam Reed, as they aspire to the office of advocate for Washington voters, agree.Next: Nov. 7While we're on the subject, we suppose it's a fair time to discuss our own plans for coverage heading up to the Nov. 7 general election.The Review and its sister Kitsap Newspaper Group publications will put out a countywide election section, including profiles of most local candidates and races (and no doubt a passel of political advertising) in the Oct. 21 edition.We'll begin our own round of candidate endorsementsOct. 11. In the meantime, endorsement letters from readers are certainly welcome, and will be published on the regular pages of the Review through Nov. 1. Due to the number of endorsements we're expecting, writers are asked to keep length in the 100-word range. Remember - hyperbole, good; verbosity, bad. Now pontificate away. "

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