Archive for August, 2013

Hutchison elected WSRP chair

Posted: August 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Today, 107 state committee members, three from each county, met in Spokane to decide among Christian Berrigan, Susan Hutchison, James Walsh, and Luanne Van Werven to replace Kirby Wilbur as Washington State Republican Party chairman. The results were as follows:

First ballot:

Van Werven – 41

Hutchison – 39

Walsh – 16

Berrigan- 11


Second ballot:

Hutchison – 59

Van Werven – 46


The scuttlebutt was always that Van Werven had the race sewn up from the start with commitments from a majority of the committee. As the elected Vice-Chair and interim Chairman of the WSRP, she has had more opportunity to campaign among the voters that matter. This, of course, was probably the goal when Wilbur resigned with no warning and then the vote was scheduled for the very next meeting, less than a month later. The party establishment appears to have done its best to hand the position to one of their own. Any candidate entering this race knew at the outset that overcoming those odds was something of a long shot. This makes Hutchison’s victory even more interesting.

Given the fact that another and far more important chair election happens in a mere seventeen months, this campaign in many ways was a trial run for a few people and organizations looking to gain standing among Washington Republicans. Some interesting people to watch going forward are:

1.  Susan Hutchison

Her supporters on the blog NW Daily Marker conducted an online poll for her, and she won it handily over second-placed Christian Berrigan and the rest of the field. The former Seattle news anchor and failed King County executive candidate has apparently overcome her former reluctance to be identified with the Republican party and has sold herself, with some effectiveness, as a great fundraiser. That skill will always be in demand among establishment Republicans, regardless of her personal philosophy of government. It will be interesting to see if she makes good on this promise, now that she has pulled off the upset victory.

2. The Washington Republican Liberty Caucus

Although a national organization since 1991, the RLC is new to Washington in 2013, and has had some growing pains in its first year of existence. The State Convention in April was reportedly highlighted by hours of arguing, resulting in a schism over the abortion issue that left many members signing resignation letters.  Amid the din of angry blog posts and public facebook arguments, the RLCWA executive board decided to manifest its presence in the GOP by backing a candidate for party chair. The candidate the eight-member board chose, Jim Walsh, was apparently promised at least 25 Liberty votes on the state committee as a foundation for his candidacy. RLCWA chairwoman, Sandra Belzer Brendale, had this to say to her local paper, the Yakima Herald :

Belzer Brendale said the Republican Liberty Caucus has actively engaged members across the state to poll the state Republican Party’s 117 committee members to gauge the group’s influence. She said leaders believe they can sway at least 25 members to vote for their candidate.

“It’s silly to ignore us,” Belzer Brendale said. “Very silly.”

As the PCO Liberty Alliance discovered, the media is always very happy to do interviews and report on fractures and uprisings in the Republican party. This has created an opportunity for the RLC to get some attention as a vocal representative in the larger Liberty movement. Here’s hoping they put that attention to a productive use.

3. Christian Berrigan

Christian is everything his supporters have cracked him up to be. He is a tireless worker, a fountain of ideas and he has gained the trust and respect of most Republican leaders in Clark County. He is also a strong conservative who does not hide his goal of shifting the party back to a more populist conservative agenda, rather than the cronyist, power-hungry elites that run the party but lose elections currently. The message of what has been going on in Clark County, the uniting of conservatives under a conservative message, the work they can accomplish together, and the renewed faith that can be restored in the Republican brand, these must be spread to other counties if any change in state elections is to occur. The one thing Christian has lacked up to now in order to execute many of his ideas is a statewide presence, which he is now quickly gaining. Of all the candidates for chair in this election, he is the one that shows the most promise to be a future influence and leader in the party.


I just received this transmission from the Secretary of the Washington Republican Liberty Caucus:

Dear RLC Member,

The WA state RLC board has decided to endorse Jim Walsh of Grays Harbor for WSRP Chair. The vote was nearly unanimous with 8 cast in favor of Jim with one abstention. We had four candidates address the WA State RLC BOD meeting on Sunday: Susan Hutchison, Luanne Van Werven, Christian Berrigan, and Jim Walsh. To be absolutely honest, Christian was very impressive, and it was a toss up between Christian and Jim for many of our BOD members up until the final vote. All of us were extremely impressed with his energy, drive, as well as his accomplishments in reforming the Clark County GOP. Ultimately, it came down to who best represented the liberty values of the WA State RLC. In addition to his work in Grays Harbor, Jim authored the book “Liberty in Troubled Times” (which is available on Amazon if you care to get a copy) which does a great job of describing how liberty minded activists in both parties are different from their more mainstream counterparts.
As we extend our congratulations to Jim Walsh, we want to thank to each of the candidates who came out and wish each the best of luck in their race for WSRP Chair.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

In Liberty,

Bill Cassill
WA State RLC

Some very nice words about all of the accomplishments that Christian Berrigan has logged, but in the end, they chose Jim Walsh. The main argument for choosing Walsh over Berrigan appears to be that Walsh wrote a book. Obviously, they have never seen any of Christian’s emails.

Meanwhile, the Clark County Republican Liberty Caucus voted unanimously on Monday to endorse Christian Berrigan for Washington State Republican Chairman. Members gave Berrigan rave reviews for work he has done over the last 18 months on the Presidential cycle, PCO elections, State Legislature and County Commissioner races, bylaws changes for the Clark County Republican party, City Council races, and his tremendous work as Operations Director with fundraising and data development. In addition, Christian has now been endorsed by State Senator Don Benton, State Representative Liz Pike, former CCRP chair Anna Miller, current CCRP chair Lynda Wilson, and the Washington Citizens for a Responsible Government.

“Christian Berrigan is one of the smartest and most successful grass roots strategists I have ever worked with. If our goal is to change the political dynamic to elect exceptional Republican leaders across Washington State, Mr. Berrigan is the person for the job.”
– Representative Liz Pike, 18th District

“Christian Berrigan is a tireless worker for the conservative cause. He helped my re-election effort immensely. Having been the State party chairman, I can assure you he has the skills, drive and intelligence to do the job extremely well.”
-Senator Don Benton, Deputy Majority Leader

Allow me to point out just a couple of things about the Benton endorsement. As Kirby Wilbur was leaving, this is how he summed up his accomplishments:

Chairman Wilbur was elected to his first term in January 2011. Under his leadership, Washington elected the only statewide Republican official on the west coast in Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and picked up 1 seat in both the State Senate and the State House in 2012. In late 2012, early 2013, two Democrats joined with our Republican Senators to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, thus giving Republicans a majority in at least one chamber of the Legislature for the first time since 2004. Chairman Wilbur was reelected to a second term in January 2013.

So Kirby hangs his hat on the fact that under his watch, Republicans picked up one seat in the Senate. And the last Senator to win his race? Don Benton, on Dec 5th by 74 votes. Kirby’s other crowning achievement was getting two Democrats to join with Republicans and form a majority in the Senate. Was Kirby really the one who accomplished this? Or was it actually that same Senator Benton and a few of his colleagues? So if Senator Benton, a former WSRP chair himself, credits Berrigan with helping him get re-elected and is confident enough in Christian’s qualification to publicly endorse him, I’m thinking that might be kind of a big deal.

Now if Christian can only write a book between now and the 24th, maybe he can get those eight board members from the RLCWA behind him too.

Edit: (Apparently, after the email was sent to everyone, Christian did receive one dissenting vote.)

After some deliberation, Christian Berrigan confirmed to me this evening that he will announce his candidacy for Washington State Republican Party chairman tomorrow. As the Operations Director of the Clark County Republican Party, Christian has been working full time on crunching data, targeting voters, and door-knocking for both the Frank Decker (Vancouver) and Lyle Lamb (Battle Ground) City Council primary campaigns. The races culminated in primary victories for each of these grass roots candidates, who have gone from relative unknowns in the political sphere to successfully winning their primaries on the first attempt.

Frank Decker writes:

I have come to know Christian Berrigan over the past several months and I can say without hesitation and with all sincerity that he is a man of high character and unbelievable intelligence. I am running for a political position for the first time in my life (Vancouver City Council). Christian’s insight, advice, and strategic mind have been invaluable to my campaign. He has played a significant role in helping to propel me–someone who was literally a complete unknown 3 months ago–to a Primary victory, defeating a 16-year incumbent.

I believe that Christian has the leadership ability, the strategic thinking capability, and the positive personality to bring the Washington State Republican Party not only together in a unified way that has never been seen, but also into the 21st century without compromising our core conservative values. I fully support him for the position of Washington State Chair and I am confident that he will be exactly what our party desperately needs.

And from Lyle Lamb:

I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of a number of really great people. One of those is Christian Berrigan. It’s been awesome having his assistance throughout this primary. He has such enthusiasm for liberty and for the elective process! His dedication was manifest in late nights he put in generating targeted walk lists, his constant communication with me, his willingness to knock on the doors of strangers in a town he doesn’t even reside in, and his ever present creative process. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with as much drive and determination, coupled with an ability to bring the power of technology to bear in such a comprehensive way. I think that Christian’s ability to communicate, generate ideas, lead people, bridge political divides, and burn the midnight oil would make him an excellent chair of the Washington State Republican Party. As happens in all political arenas, it’s time for change, and I sincerely believe that Christian is the necessary change-agent.

Many who are not from Clark County and have not witnessed the revolution within the party over the past 18 months as we moved from an exclusionary and fractured establishment-centered environment to a vibrant organization capable of generating candidates and the energetic volunteers and funding necessary to support them. I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat, and have done my best to pass it on as it unfolded via this blog. My conclusion after watching Christian in action over that time is that his message, energy and talent is just what is needed in a party that has been on life-support ever since November’s anemic showing in the elections.

Clark County State Committeewoman Laney Maxwell says:

I don’t know if every idea Christian Berrigan has is genius, or just the ones he says out loud, but the quickest way I know to make something successful is to put Christian Berrigan in charge of it. He has clever political strategies for every level–national, state, and county–he even brought media attention to the Clark County PCO races while bringing all the Republican factions together. In the interest of finally turning Washington State red, I fully endorse and look forward to a Christian Berrigan Chairmanship.

18th Legislative District Chairman Kenny Smith writes of Christian:

 [He is] a great motivational force overflowing with ideas to advance the party. Christian would get this party moving, that is for sure. Whether people could keep up with him is the question. I would love to give it a try.

Recurring themes in everyone I spoke to about Christian were his tireless work ethic, his ability to clearly articulate the conservative message, and especially, his endless stream of ideas and innovations. He is a 21st Century candidate, and this party needs him now.