4 August 1992 Political career may have been lost in the mail

By Jim Camden, Spokesman-Review staff writer
  

Would-be U.S. Senate candidate Mohammed Said had the kind of day Monday that is a politician’s worst nightmare.
The Ephrata, Wash., physician called a morning news conference in Spokane to discuss his fledgling Democratic campaign and the city’s television and radio stations ignored it.

He proceeded undeterred, only to be taken aback by the first question: If he was running, why didn’t he file last week with the Washington secretary of state?

“I did file,” he said, several times.

But his name is not on the secretary’s list of candidates, Said was told. He insisted he sent his papers and filing fee to Olympia by certified mail on July 27 – plenty of time, he assumed, for the filing deadline of 5 p.m. July 31.

Unknown to Said, his papers and check didn’t arrive at the secretary of state’s office until Monday, about the same time he was holding his news conference. That was too late for him to be included on the Sept. 15 primary ballot.

After his press conference, he called the state office and got the bad news.

“I feel really bad for him,” said Jim Mullinex of the secretary of state’s office.

Said’s papers are filled out correctly; the check is attached. The post office box number on the envelope is incorrect, but it is addressed to the secretary of state, so the destination was not in doubt.

“From Ephrata, I wouldn’t expect it to take seven days,” Mullinex said.

Ephrata Postmaster Clyde Small says the normal delivery to Olympia is two days. He, too, is puzzled by the delay.

“I’ve never encountered anything like this,” Small said, adding he’ll try to help track the problem if Said brings in his receipt.

An explanation for the delay might not help Said. State law is clear that a candidate must file for office by the deadline; there’s no appeal process of exceptions for a timely postmark, Mullinex said.

Said would have to sue the secretary of state’s office to get his name on the ballot.

“This is ruining my reputation overseas,” said the native of Palestine, who produced an endorsement from the mayor of Bethlehem at his press conference.

He also has received encouragement from friends in the Jordanian Parliament. “It’s very hard to explain to them about this.”

Said, 53, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Haifa and immigrated to the United States in 1974. A strong advocate of an independent Palestinian state, he has been active in Democratic politics for many years.

He opposes most foreign aid, except for assistance to starving nations. He believes Jerusalem should be an open, international city rather than a part of Israel. He opposes military action in cases such as the Persian Gulf War. And he supports the death penalty for premeditated murder, a national medical system operated by the federal government, and a major overhaul of the tax system.

He acknowledges his candidacy is, at best, a long shot against such better-funded, better-known Democrats as state Sen. Patty Murray and former U.S. Rep. Don Bonker. But Said had hoped at least to be on the ballot and participate in debates and forums that would give his issues an airing.

But he’ll have trouble even getting that far unless he can convince a court that he belongs on the ballot. He has his attorney studying that option.