With all the conservative harrumphing (yes, that’s a word) over the Charter Review candidates, do not think I’ve forgotten about the Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs). A Precinct Committee Officer, or PCO, is a neighborhood representative of a political party. They are elected to this volunteer position and formally elect party officers (chair, vice-chair) and endorse candidates.
Before filing week, I took a look at this vital elected office and found that Republicans had a huge (2 to 1) advantage in PCOs. Now, after the dust has settled, let’s see if anything has changed.
The first thing that pops out is the number of contested races. There are three precincts with Democrats going head to head while on the other side of the aisle, thirteen precincts have contested Republican races. With a potentially brutal primary between Knutzen and Van Werven heating up this year, you can see this battle played out on the microcosm of PCO races.
One of those contested races is Kathy Kershner’s precinct (232). Kershner is running for reelection as a Republican PCO and is being challenged by Greg Parsons, a young conservative. This could be interesting because last year, Kershner actually lost her own precinct by 40 votes to Barry Buchanan.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats have a contested PCO race in precinct 137 where long-time labor advocate and Cherry Point Terminal supporter John Munson is facing off against tribal member and policy advisor to the Lummi Nation, Justin Finkbonner. Remember, all politics is local and while it may seem like colossal forces are slugging it out over the coal terminal, those tides are often changed by small skirmishes on the ground, in precincts with no more than 300 voters.
End totals for PCOs:
29 Precincts with only Democratic Officers
55 Precincts with only Republican Officers
33 Precincts with both Republican and Democratic Officers
While the Republicans maintain their PCO advantage, it has shrunk significantly since last year. We will see what impact this has on the grassroots campaigns in Whatcom County as we move forward.