Do Write-in political campaigns work in Washington State? Have write-in candidates won before? What laws apply? This video covers these topics and more.

In some ways, Washington State’s Top 2 Primary (Jungle Primary) System encourages write-in campaigns if one party ends up getting both slots on the ballot. This happened in two high profile races in Washington State in the 2020 primary election. The first was the Lieutenant Governor race and the other was the 10th Congressional District race. It appears that write-in campaigns have been officially filed in both those races for the general election. In this video we discuss the relevant state laws which apply to write-in campaigns as well as the types of write in campaigns that can be launched. We also discuss some that have worked in the past.


Background articles and documents:

Washington State Law – RCW 29A.24.311 (this includes the “sore loser” rule)

Washington State Law – RCW 29A.60.021 (this explains more of the laws around the process of a write-in campaign)


  1. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I’ll send this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Is John Pass a write-in candidate in the 2020 General Election against Rep. Lisa Wellman (41st LD)?

    • I don’t know, but if you have that information confirmed, let me know. In order for it to count, they have to register with the auditor’s office and the PDC.

  3. Great stuff, Glen. I vividly recall the Linda Smith victory. I would love, love, love to see how Josh Freed could do against two very progressive Lt. Gov candidates. He’s a diamond in the rough. Thanks for your fine site and work. You, too, are a real treasure trove of critically important information that every informed voter should avail themselves.

    • Thank you for your kind words. The write-in campaign this year could be very interesting and a lot of political wonks will be studying it closely just to see how it works, or to study the impact. It is likely to either convince people to not do it in the future, or if the results seem dramatic enough, it might become the standard fare when two candidates from the same party get on the ballot.

  4. Wish you would comment on the effect of a write-in campaign on the other races. I do not support a write-in campaign for Lt. Gov. My concern is that the money, time and energy for a statewide write-in would be better spent on helping the candidates that advanced in the Primary and have a good chance of winning in the General Election. Maybe the write-in for Marty McClendon in the 10th District but not a statewide campaign. Also, if one Democrat is less objectionable than the other, then a write-in might help elect the one we really do not want. However, in looking at both candidates I did not see one that was preferable to the other. Is there one that is better?

    • You raise several good points. The use of resources for a write-in campaign vs. using those resources elsewhere is certainly a concern, and most people recognize it, so there is always going to be a cost/benefit analysis done by those involved (doesn’t mean it is accurate or you would agree with it, but there is a conversation about this in most cases). The second point you raise is one that many have also raised, and this is how the write-in effort might skew the election results. Right now, everybody recognizes that Denny Heck would win this race – he has more insider connections, he has access to more money, and he would present himself as more sane than Liias. While many Republicans would probably not vote at all in that race, it is possible that some would vote for Heck. So, theoretically, the write-in campaign reduces Heck’s chances of winning. Even if the Write-in campaign fails, it could advance Liias to victory at the expense of Heck. Some Republicans probably view Liias as a weaker politician in that office and therefore easier to remove, whether he moves into the Governor office once Inslee bails out of the state, or even as a Lt. Governor in the future. All these conversations are being held out there right now. Many opinions abound…

  5. The right to bear arms IS IN THE CONSTITUTION. How can you say he can’t be trusted to follow it? Rather, he is enforcing it.

      • The law that Culp opposes is indeed the law, whether you like it or not, and it was passed by the people of this state thru public initiative, which is the most democratic process imaginable. The right of children to buy assault rifles is nowhere guaranteed in the Constitution. Governors and certainly cops don’t get to decide what laws they get to follow. If that were true, any criminal could plead innocence by claiming a law he violated didn’t fit his personal view of constituionality. The very fact that Culp would admit that he is willing to ignore (which means disobey) a law that he personally dislikes means he is himself nothing but a common criminal — like most Republicans.

  6. Let’s face reality. Loren Culp is a small town police chief (from a town with a population around one thousand); working with a Democratic legislature to manage a budget of $19 billion during a health and financial crisis, he will be immediately confused. Add to that the fact that he goes around insisting that he is not obligated to follow any law he doesn’t like — how then can we trust him to follow the Constitution? — including a gun law that was passed not bey politicians but by initiative, which is the best example of citizen democracy. He’s running in a state where Republicans have virtually no chance, even if they know what they’re doing, and Culp is a Trump-supporting crack pot. Of course anything can happen. Pigs might fly one day. Which is Culp’s approximate likelihood of being governor.

    • Who did you predict would become president in 2016? I expected to wake up to President Hilary Clinton. Miracles do happen!

      Regarding Culp refusing to follow the gun law, it was not because he dislikes the law, it was because he believes it is unconstitutional. Not saying that is right, just that to him it is more than not liking the law.

    • Sounds like you are the one who is confused. We are a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, not a democracy. Thus the majority can’t run roughshod over the rights of the minority. Do us all a favor and take a Civics 101 class before you post any further.

      • You missed the entire point of my remarks, which is suprising, since they were’t particularly complex. The fact is, the gun bill that Culp says he won’t enforce is an example of democracy, and it’s been upheld by the SC, whether you like it or not. That was my point about democracy, but apparently it was too complex for you. A citizens’ initiative is the perfect example of democracy in action, apart from the usual machinations of legislative enactment. Any true patriot would enthusiastically support the initiative process, but rightwing dittoheads only do so when it’s something from Tom (“Wow, what a cool chair”) Eyman.

        You’re the one who is confused. Rush (“Oxycotin”) Limbaugh started that ‘we’re not a democracy crap’ years ago, and his dittoheads gloamed on. The US is indeed a democracy — organized as a federal republic. Any 5th grader knows this. Apparently you didn’t advance from the 4th. Next time, pay attention in class.

        • Tim Eyman, not Tom. I was surprisingly pleased at how well he dealt with his Primary loss. He sent out an upbeat email thanking all his supporters and vowing to support Culp. It was very gracious and caused several of us to raise our opinion of Mr. Eyman.

          In regard to your comments: I wish you did not find it necessary to state your views with so much sarcasm and so many insults? We can come to agreement more easily with civil discussion.

        • Obfuscate much? You obviously don’t realize that at one time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled SLAVERY was legal. And the USA is NOT a democracy, and natural rights CAN NOT be violated by a simple majority vote, regardless if in initiative form or not. Nice try; no cigar. You desperately need to take that Civics 101 class. Don’t bother spewing more bilge water until you do.

Comments are closed.