Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Rep. Sam Hunt sets the mark to beat

Representative Sam Hunt (D, 22nd District) is our first nominee for the first annual Izzen T. Hollowe Memorial Prize.

Endowed by an anonymous and penniless benefactor, the Izzen T. Hollowe Memorial Prize involves no cash award, but offers politicians a significant boost in their next campaigns – assuming their constituents want to re-elect someone who has won this prize.

The selection criteria are straightforward. The recipient must hold an elective office in state or local government, and must say something which proves beyond cavil that there’s a lot of unused space in the attic.

Today, The Olympian hosted a “chat session” at which Mr. Hunt could answer questions submitted in writing via the web.

Mr. Hunt recently began his third term in office in the House. He is the Democratic Party’s floor leader. He serves on these committees: Natural Resources, Ecology & Parks; Rules; and State Government Operations & Accountability. (Those who yearn for meaningful reform of our election laws, please note that all such bills will be initially considered by the last of those three committees.)

He achieved such high marks for the answer quoted here that we fear others may be discouraged from attempting to compete for the prize, but we’re pretty sure many of them can’t help but rival Mr. Hunt’s stunning performance.

Loyal readers of Croker Sack may recognize in the question some issues discussed previously. Disloyal readers can’t tell their knees from their elbows, so we must direct them to this entry and this one and, of course, this one.

Here’s the question from someone who must be a loyal reader and the answer from Mr. Hunt:

Bob, Port Orchard: Two bills were introduced during this legislative session that would authorize the Secretary of State to canvass the counties' election returns and certify the results in a gubernatorial election. Do you think it is constitutional to use a statute rather than a constitutional amendment to remove from the Legislature the authority to declare who was elected as Governor? Do you think it is a good idea to have the Secretary of State assume the responsibility of deciding who was duly elected as governor?

Hunt: The way I view it is the Legislature did not have the authority to void or change the election -- we just voted to accept the certification from the Secretary of State. The state Constitution says the governor shall be elected every four years, and there is not a provision for doing otherwise.

We can all sleep better, knowing that Mr. Hunt represents the 22nd legislative district which includes Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. All of us, that is, except for the residents of those areas.


Blogger chew_2 said...

It was pretty stupid, but literally speaking it could be correct. If the legislature delegated its authority to decide election contests by statute to the courts, as Judge Bridges held, then he might be technically right. The election contest is in the courts, and the legislature can't do anything about it.

Did he mean that? I doubt it. LOL!

February 18, 2005 9:44 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

I don't want to spoil Rep. Hunt's chance to win the coveted Izzen T. Hollowe Memorial Prize, but I suppose he might have simply not accepted the premise of the questions -- but didn't say so.

The questions' premise is that the responsibility to declare the winner rests with the legislature. Perhaps the best evidence of that is the fact that the certification of election which declared Gregoire to be "duly" elected was issued by the presiding officers of the two houses of the legislature, just as the constitution says should be done.

Hunt seems to have understood the questions to be asking about the contested election, even though there was no hint of that in the questions themselves.

He didn't say whether he thinks it's constitutional to assign the certification responsibility to the secretary of state (but probably thinks it is, since he thinks it already has been).

He didn't say whether he thinks it's a good idea (but again probably thinks it is, since he thinks it already has been).

I wonder if he will ever bother to read the constitution, law, or election reform bills.

I bet he won't.

February 18, 2005 10:51 AM  

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