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September 30, 1970
Honorable R. A. Hensel
Waterville, Washington 98858
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 124
This is written in response to your letter dated September 28, 1970, requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to RCW 29.18.110, which provides, in pertinent part, that:
"No candidate for a party nomination shall be the party noninee unless he receives a number of votes equal to at least ten percent of the highest number cast for any candidate of his party in the political subdivision in which he is a candidate."
The factual basis for your inquiry is set forth in your letter as follows:
"To make a long story short, Bob Curtis, Republican Legislator from the joint district with Chelan County, received approximately 3200 votes in Douglas County. This was the highest number cast for any Republican in Douglas County. We had a hotly contested Democratic Sheriff's race and the lone Republican received approximately 280 votes. Ten (10%) per cent of 3200 would be 320; and if the yardstick to use is Bob Curtis, then it would require more than the 280 votes to make it 10%.
"For those running for strictly local offices in the County, the highest Republican received around 1800 votes, and 10% of this would give the candidate for Sheriff a place on the ballot."
Your question is whether the Republican candidate for sheriff, who received less than 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in Douglas county for the Republican nominee for the legislature, but more than 10 percent of the total number [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of votes cast for the leading Republican candidate for a "strictly" county office, may be deemed to have been nominated in view of the foregoing provisions of RCW 29.18.110.
In requesting our opinion on this question, you have indicated a need for an immediate reply ‑ prior to the printing of the ballots for the forthcoming November 1970 general election. Thus, it has not been possible for us to give this response the full and complete processing which we ordinarily would give to any opinion request. However, with this in mind and without attempting to document all of our reasoning, it is our best judgment ‑ based upon a concensus of the attorneys in this office who have looked at your question ‑ that the yardstick to be used in determining whether or not the Republican candidate for county sheriff has been nominated must be the total number of votes cast within Douglas county for the Republican candidate for state legislator (i.e., approximately 3200 votes) rather than the lesser number of votes cast for the leading Republican vote‑getter seeking a county office. The phrase "in the political subdivision" as used in RCW 29.18.110, supra, appears to us to describe the area to be looked to in determining the total number of votes cast for the leading candidate of the party in question, and not the identity of the office being sought by the candidate whose vote total is to constitute the measuring base under the statute.
Therefore, we would conclude that on the basis of the facts you have submitted to us, the Republican candidate for sheriff should not be deemed to have been nominated.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General