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.

  1. Lyle Lamb says:

    *Hear, hear!

  2. I am the publisher of the NW Daily Marker and I want to make a note on one thing you mentioned in the post. Our reputation for fairness is something I have worked hard to maintain, and it’s then to clarify that our publication was not supporting any candidate in this race. Although we published endorsements and articles from individuals supporting their own preferred candidates, we did not make any endorsements as a publication. Because I’m the editor-in-chief, I also did not make an endorsement or editorialize about the race. In the same way, the straw poll was conducted impartially without any preference given to one candidate over any other. Rest assured that when it comes to exposing lunacy and backward thinking on the other side of the political spectrum our views will be well-known and visible, but in this important race (holding ground in Congress and making gains in the state Legislature are essential during next year’s midterm elections) we maintained rigorous impartiality.

  3. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for the comment. I had never heard of your site until a few weeks ago when this article was circulated on facebook:

    And then this one appeared:

    If you say that the authors of these posts, who clearly did endorse Susan Hutchison on your site and also drummed up as many votes as they could for her in that poll had nothing to do with running the poll, then that is a distinction I am willing to accept. As it turns out, she won the poll that mattered as well – that of the state committee.

    Writing a blog has given me a new perspective on the supposed ‘objectivity’ of media in general. I noted that when you did your rather brief article on Christian ( ), that you chose a picture of him with a guitar. Everyone else gets a flattering campaigney glamor shot, and Christian gets the “I probably smoke pot in my mom’s basement” facebook photo. There are other pictures that come up in a google search of him in a more formal setting with a shirt and tie (I checked), but for some reason you went with the guitar look. Also, your comment ‘something about a ferret’ in summarizing Christian’s speech in Spokane did not go unnoticed. These are all decisions of someone who probably isn’t an objective writer. Totally fine, by the way. I made my own bias clear from the beginning. My only suggestion is that you own up to yours.



  4. Mumon says:

    You HAVE to be kidding me. We DO NOT want Tea Party people destroying our governments, whether local, state or national.

  5. Yeah, balancing budgets and keeping government from encroaching on our civil liberties would be TERRIBLE. Good call.

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