A socialist candidate running for the Washington State House of Representatives has sued Secretary of State Sam Reed and the King County Elections office to get her party preference — the Socialist Alternative Party — on the ballot in November.
The suit comes in the midst of an odd situation.
The candidate, Kshama Sawant, had filed to run in Position 1 in the 43rd Legislative District in Seattle. But The Stranger newspaper endorsed her as a write-in candidate for Position 2 after another candidate, Gregory Gadow, dropped out.
Sawant came in second in both races in the Aug. 7 primary, allowing her to advance to the general election.
State rules prohibit Sawant from running in both races simultaneously. She chose last week to run for the Position 2 seat against House Speaker Frank Chopp, a Democrat, whom she viewed as responsible for budget cuts to social services.
But Sawant’s decision run in the race where she was a write-in candidate added a new wrinkle to the her campaign.
The Washington Administrative Code prevents a write-in candidate who advances to the general election from listing a party preference on the ballot. Sawant filed as a candidate for Position 1, but not for the Position 2 race she’s now running in.
Sawant filed suit on Thursday to identify herself as a candidate for the Socialist Alternative Party and filed an amended petition on Monday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning in King County Superior Court.
“Quite frankly, we find it a little absurd that we are having to file this lawsuit,” said Sawant, a professor of economics at Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College and an activist with the Occupy Seattle movement.
She said voters need to know which party she identifies with.
But Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said his office did not have choice when it came to enforcing the state’s administrative code. “We’re not changing the rules partway through the election,” he said.