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WSRP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison

Having been re-elected as Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman in neighboring Skamania County only last weekend, Susan Hutchison broke in her new administration by immediately sending out a press release blasting the PCOs from Clark County and the 3rd Congressional District for daring to discuss the voting record of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. Following is the full text of the press release (hat tip to Lauren Dake of the Columbian).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, January 20, 2015
CONTACT: Steve Beren – steveberen@wsrp.org(425) 460-0570

BELLEVUE, WA, January 20 – The Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, Susan Hutchison, has released this statement:


“I am deeply dismayed that a small number of discontents in Clark County have issued plans to censure a sitting Republican Congresswoman, misrepresenting themselves as speaking for the Republican Party.  


“Jaime Herrera Beutler is a highly respected 3-term congresswoman from the 3rd district, winning re-election in November 2014 with a decisive 61.5% of the vote.  She was the first Hispanic American elected to represent Washington in the U.S. House; a solid conservative who serves her constituents well on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; and a  member of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, where she is the Co-Chair of the Women and the Economy/Business Task Force.

“In addition, she is deeply admired for being the devoted mother of a special needs child, Abigail, born without kidneys in 2013.  The family’s courageous journey has been an inspiration to me and millions of others who have followed their story.  Abigail is thriving despite the dire medical prognosis.

“The action of those who threaten censure is in violation of the Washington State Republican Party Policy Statements which support our incumbent elected officials.  This vocal and unrepresentative group from the 3rd Congressional District does not speak for the majority of voters, supporters or donors of the party, but in fact represents those who supported Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s 2014 Primary challenger.

“The Washington State Republican Party welcomes people of varied views and we proudly stand with the decision of voters when they elect our candidates.  Sometimes our elected officials also take votes that some disagree with.  This does not constitute a reason for censure.  Furthermore, many of the reasons for censure stated in documents provided to the press are false or misleading.  For example, because Congresswoman Herrera Beutler voted for a Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running does not mean she supports Obamacare.

“The Washington State Republican Party is proud to support Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler and we condemn the actions of a few that claim to speak for Republicans in Clark County.“

My reaction:

First of all, this will not be news to most readers, but there has been no vote to censure, a fact which is still apparently lost on our state party chairwoman. She violently responds in public to a mere suggestion that we discuss a motion brought up by one PCO at our next meeting. She launches into an hysterical outburst without even talking to the Clark County Republican chairman first to get an explanation of the details, which she mangles beyond recognition. Being an outsider in terms of state party politics, it would seem reasonable to me that she contact county leadership first, but when I asked Chairman Kenny Smith, he told me that she only contacted him AFTER the press release was sent. Amazing leadership skills!

I do not believe this particular censure motion will ever pass. For one thing, it lists the wrong objections. While it calls attention to some questionable votes, many of which were waved away by the condescending letter Herrera sent to PCOs last week, most people who follow national politics give Congress a 75% disapproval rating because of the out-of-control spending that Jaime and her cohorts in Congress have been engaged in, topped off by her recent vote on the Cromnibus bill, which funded every pork-seeking crony capitalist under the sun and received widespread criticism by Democrats and Republicans throughout the country. To tell us that she is and has always been a ‘conservative’ is to attempt to redefine the word to mean something other than the accepted definition. ‘Conservative’ means one who is loathe to make massive expenditures. Jaime’s voting record indicates the opposite; the woman never met a debt-ceiling increase she didn’t like.

While Hutchison and Team Herrera have done their level best to marginalize and cast aspersions on the majority of PCOs in Clark County (joining Jim Moeller and the Columbian), a common refrain has been that one ought not to question a Congresswoman who just won with 62% of the vote. While the argument on its face reeks of Establishment hackery of the first degree, it isn’t even based on sound numbers. First of all, the vote tally in Clark County in November’s election had Jaime with 72,877, or 59.26% of those who bothered to vote. With no one but a weak socialist running against her, most Republicans didn’t have a choice, except, perhaps, not to vote at all, which they did in large numbers. Of the nearly 250,000 registered voters in the county, Jaime’s total only reflects 29.2%. Or, to put it another way, 70.8% of voters in Clark County did NOT vote for Jaime Herrera, even though they were sent a ballot and given the easy opportunity to do so. Not exactly results to trumpet from the rooftops. It is interesting to note that many of the same folks who are publicly lambasting the conservative PCOs for not supporting the ‘overwhelmingly popular’ Herrera also tell us again and again about the serious undervote in David Madore’s election in 2012. His vote total was 84,370.

84,370 > 72,877

I wonder how we might incorporate that difference into Greg Jayne’s tennis anology? If the PCOs are foolish for calling Herrera’s votes into question because of her amazing election total, how does that principle apply to the Columbian’s daily attacks on Councilor Madore?

The most interesting criticism of all from Hutchison, however, is the idea she puts forth that the PCOs in Clark County are “misrepresenting themselves as speaking for the Republican Party” and “do not speak for the majority of voters, supporters or donors of the party.” So the county party and the elected representatives of each precinct don’t represent Republicans in Clark County and the 3rd Congressional District, but some failed King County Executive candidate who only recently admitted to being a Republican in public does? How many people in our county, if you stopped them on the street, would know who on earth Susan Hutchison is? I’ll take the under on that bet.

If there is anything certain in all of this, it is that Susan Hutchison and Jaime Herrera are awful representatives of the people that voted for them. Rather than the mature and leaderly approach, which might have involved sitting down and discussing differences like adults in anticipation of the upcoming vote, these two fine examples of Establishment Republicanism have chosen the Mitt Romney “crush the opposition via character assassination” approach. We were looking for better.

CCRP Organization Meeting Recap

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

On Thursday evening, the new body of PCOs convened to elect executive board members. Recalling the meeting in 2012, the lead-up to this year’s elections had far less tension. While Team Herrera and the old guard were present, efforts by Herrera’s office to recruit candidates to run against the more reform-minded existing board had come up empty. Given the results of the recent election, and the countless hours that chairman Kenny Smith and his team had put into helping Jeanne Stewart and Lynda Wilson gain seats from the Democrats, it seems that few were interested in interrupting the tremendous progress being made by the newer volunteers.

The one exception was in the case of the 17th Legislative District chair, formerly occupied by bylaws author and technology guru Eric Heredia, who was vacating the seat due to the impending arrival of a future lover of liberty, a higher calling that had also caused the former committeeman and committee woman, James Randall and Laney Maxwell, to give up their posts this time around. While former CCRP Secretary Vicki Kraft had made known her intentions to run for LD 17 Chair weeks ago, a last-minute nomination came in for Port Commissioner and newly-minted PCO Jerry Oliver. In fact, the nomination had evidently come post-last-minute by former CCRP chairman Stephanie McClintock and former CCRP Treasurer Dan Barnes. The tardiness in sending in their nominations despite multiple communications from the chairman regarding the deadline resulted in Oliver having to request that the body of PCOs suspend the meeting rules in order to be allowed on the ballot. The PCOs were torn between wanting to be supportive of a new PCO and not wanting to set a terrible precedent in allowing last-minute surprise nominations to occur, and by a close vote, they decided to uphold the rules of the meeting, rules which, ironically, had been put forward by McClintock and Barnes at the Organization meeting in 2012. Oliver ran as a write-in candidate, and eventually Vicki prevailed by a convincing vote of 37-6.

The rest of the board positions were unopposed, and the new board was quickly elected as follows:

Chairman – Kenny Smith

Vice-Chairman – Lisa Ross

State Committee Man: Christian Berrigan

State Committee Woman: Katja Delavar

Secretary: Mary Sue Davis

Treasurer: Alan Svehaug

LD 17 Chair: Vicki Kraft

LD 18 Chair: John Anderson

LD 49 Chair: Jim Johnson

LD 20 Chair: Ron Fitch

LD 14 Chair: Piper McEwen

This impressive group of volunteers will lead the party into the new presidential cycle, as well as numerous elections for County and City councilors and then Senate and Representative seats for both state and federal office in 2016.

Herrera Staff Member Shows Contempt for PCOs

Of course, even with a unified slate, it would not be a CCRP Org meeting without some element of controversy, and this one closed with a PCO introducing a motion on whether to consider a censure of Jaime Herrera at the next meeting, to be held sometime in March. The author of the motion produced a good sized laundry list of bad votes from the congresswoman (see link below).

Resolution on Jaime Herrera Beutler_CUL

While very few of the audience had actually read the motion, there were some strong opinions about it expressed during the meeting, particularly from those in Herrera’s camp. As many may know, several of Herrera’s office staffers are now PCOs. One of them, Jonathan Egan, got up to argue against the motion and took the opportunity to introduce himself to the body by way of a lambasting of the entire CCRP, saying, among other things, that they were considered a laughingstock in Southwest Washington. I was curious why a congressional staffer who considered a body of Republicans a ‘laughingstock’ would want to join their number. One might think he had better things to do. At any rate, it was quite an introduction by a first-time PCO to a group of folks that were nearly all his senior in age and experience. My attempt to contact him for clarification about his comments has thus far gone without response.

The motion to consider the resolution at the next meeting passed 59-49. There is little doubt that being called a laughingstock by a member of Herrera’s office had something to do with the result. The next meeting will likely be well attended and a lot of fireworks can be expected. In the meantime, I encourage you, dear reader, to check out the text of the resolution above and see whether or not you agree with the author’s conclusions. My own vote will likely depend on the response from Herrera’s office in the next few months. If they are done laughing at the volunteers, that is.

All in all, it was a good meeting. A great board was retained, and despite the opinions from Team Herrera, the party and its efforts grow stronger with each passing month, as the elections in November indicated. The next stop is the first meeting of the Washington Republican state committee next week, and the election of a new WSRP chairman. Every two years, we get to gauge whether or not the Liberty movement in Washington is a cute side show, or a genuine shift in the direction of the Republican party. Stay tuned.

Last Saturday, the Cowlitz County Republican Party held their biennial organization meeting to elect officers for the executive board. As I reported in August, despite the headlines in the local paper loudly proclaiming a heavy Establishment victory, the elections for Precinct Committee Officers actually yielded a slight edge for the Cowlitz chapter of the PCO Liberty Alliance. The results set up an extremely tight race for leadership seats that had previously belonged by default to a few perpetual party leaders. Predictably, these leaders of the Cowlitz county party appealed to PCOs for votes based on their years of experience and expertise in the ways of politics, as well as their knowledge of all the important political players in the county. The PCO Liberty Alliance candidates, in turn, spoke about a return to the grass roots of the party, to listening and reaching out to the community, and to making leadership accountable again to the common voters.

As mentioned in the August post, among the signs that a change in leadership was needed was the case of one David Steenson, a Republican who, having made the decision to run against Democrat incumbent Dean Takko for LD 19 State Representative, had approached the Cowlitz party leaders for help. Apparently, the conservative Steenson found the reception by the moderate leadership somewhat less than welcoming, despite there being no other Republican in the race, and he ended up running as a Libertarian. As a third-party candidate, he lost to Takko by a wide margin.

The previous leadership had also made it a practice to pick favorites in contested races many months before the primary elections, rather than wait to see which candidates had the most support from the electorate. With these kinds of repeated attempts by the few to make decisions on behalf of the many, it seems small wonder that LD 19, which is about half in Cowlitz and the other half spread over four other counties, is currently entirely represented in the state legislature by Democrats.

In addition to instituting grass roots leadership, the Cowlitz PCOLA had also resolved to reform the party bylaws. As in Clark County two years ago, the changes include a requirement by all prospective voting members of the executive board to first face a vote of the PCOs. This change prevents the party chairman from appointing board members at will who could vote in favor of his or her agenda. The PCOs are also given the power to remove board members.

The PCOLA bylaws draft was circulated and meetings with PCOs, party leaders, and interested Republicans from all sides were called to go over them. As in Clark in 2012, the Cowlitz leaders were quick to respond and let everyone know that these meetings were not ‘official party business’. Unlike in Clark however, the existing leadership decided to mount their own ‘counter-reformation’ of the bylaws, and so last Saturday’s election included a choice between two new sets of party bylaws, both  differing significantly from those that had governed the party previously.

In the end, the PCOLA bylaws were adopted with a few slight alterations, and the PCOLA slate of leaders won control of the executive board after a painfully long and drawn-out meeting which lasted from 10 a.m. to after 5 p.m. Among the newly-elected officers is Chairman Arne Mortensen, who prevailed by a vote of 25 to 23. State Committeeman Rustin Jones, State Committeewoman Valerie Tinney, and Treasurer Michelle Jones prevailed by similarly close margins. Two holdovers from the old board that appeared on both slates and were elected unanimously were Vice-Chairman Bonnie Decius and Secretary Carol Bales. According to Scott Whittington, a leader in the PCOLA organization, “The Liberty Alliance reached out to the old board and asked the Vice Chair and Secretary if we could list them on our slate.  We think they do good work and we are willing to work with them.

The Directors for LDs 19 and 20 are yet to be voted on, but the plan to do so is in the works. Because of the complications arising from LDs 19 and 20 being in multiple counties, previous boards had not held elections for legislative district directors, so the plan to hold elections is also a reform of sorts.

I had a chance to chat with Chairman Mortensen for quite awhile this week, and came away from the conversation impressed both with his vast life experience, and his goals for the party. A retired software engineer, he now lives in Kelso. His early years were in Venezuela, followed by four years in the United States, two in Spain, and all but one year in California until his move to Kelso nine years ago. Spanish, his first language, is not forgotten, but has given way to English, his language of choice as an adult.   He believes that, “The Republican Party is the only hope we have to re-establish the principles of individual liberty. The central planning and top down mandates are killing our country. I do not want to be another Europe. The world needs America.” His goals include encouraging PCOs to take the initiative in the party beyond campaign functions, to give guidance to elected officials and monitor their votes, to increase the number of Republican candidates, and to replace Dean Takko and his LD 19 seatmate, Democrat Brian Blake. He is also interested in increasing the variety of fundraising and community outreach events.

Liberty-loving folks in Clark County can examine that agenda and see if there is anything they can affirm in it. As for this writer, I am excited to see what changes Mortensen and the new leadership in Cowlitz County enact in the next two years. Godspeed!

With the off-year elections completed and the calendar nearly turning to 2015, the jockeying among possible presidential hopefuls is beginning in earnest. Like clockwork, the candidates begin to come out from wherever they have been hiding for three years, trying to position themselves as a frontrunner in the minds of the media and voters. With every cycle, the field of candidates seem less and less compelling to conservatives and lovers of liberty – one of the major reasons so many went bananas for Ron Paul. Regrettably, Dr. Paul will not be serving as the lone bright spot in a field of big-government-loving neoconservatives. That field, however, is already beginning to take shape with some very familiar faces.

In 2011 the media had already anointed Mitt Romney as the Republican frontrunner, so that one was either for him or against him. While the majority of Republicans were against him, the liberal Establishment wing of the party needed only to achieve a split among various groups of conservatives in order to sail their guy through to a plurality. The way the delegate system was set up, a plurality in many states meant that Romney won all of the delegates.

In order for this strategy to work, it was necessary to have a candidate who could successfully split the vote among the conservative majority, but who was then willing to quit and back the Establishment guy by the time the convention rolled around. Rick Santorum played this role perfectly. A moderate neo-conservative himself, Santorum styled himself as the social conservatives’ champion, trumpeting his opposition to abortion and other Christian hot-button issues, and engaging in a non-stop attack of the only electable conservative in the race, Ron Paul. Many ‘values voters’ did not know about Santorum’s past as a ‘pro-choice lawmaker‘ and his work with the K Street project and other efforts that put him at the center of the lobbying world. While his associate Jack Abramoff had gone to prison for fraud, Santorum had avoided legal difficulties and he was able to preempt media scrutiny by coming out swinging against Romney, at one point even going so far as to call the former Governor of Massachusetts “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama” in March of 2012. Of course, this rhetoric was not to last, and six weeks later he endorsed Romney and by July, he was hosting campaign events on Romney’s behalf. Having done a great job of splitting the vote in the primary, he readily assumed his role in support of the Establishment’s choice, and was rewarded by the Romney campaign, who agreed to help him pay his campaign debt and gave him a prime speaking slot at the national convention.

The whole thing worked so well, it appears that Santorum is ready for another round in 2016, having all but announced his candidacy in a recent interview. This time, he swears it will be different:

“America loves an underdog. We’re definitely the underdog in this race,” he said in an interview Tuesday. Santorum added that being underestimated — again — “has given me a lot of latitude.”

His iconic sweater vests will likely make a return appearance. But Santorum 2.0 will be a very different presidential campaign than the one that came from almost nowhere to win the Iowa caucuses in an overtime decision, he vows.

“I get the game,” Santorum said.

It seems clear that Rick Santorum ‘gets the game’, the question is, did conservatives catch on, or will they fall for it again? As people close to Romney begin to hint that he is considering running again, are we seeing the same scenario being constructed once more? Is it possible that the Republican Establishment believes that conservatives are stupid enough to fall for it again?

This evening, the Columbian picked up on our story about the ongoing investigation into County Auditor Greg Kimsey’s role in getting the charter passed. By the way, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge our newest lurking presence, if for no other reason than because it would be rude not to. So welcome, Lauren Dake. We mostly like Lauren here, but she doesn’t always cite her sources very well.

In any case, we shouldn’t be surprised to find the Columbian taking Kimsey’s part in their reporting, despite the fact that he won’t talk to them about it (no word on whether Ms. Dake still considers that behavior to be rude). One snippet that caught my interest was toward the end of the article when it takes a strange turn into discussion about the County’s fee waiver program, and Kimsey’s recent audit of it, the results of which have been disputed by a number of other county officials. I am unsure what that has to do with Kimsey’s behavior during the most recent election and the CCRP’s request, but the quote is interesting, nonetheless:

When Stewart asked to be caught up to speed on the fee waiver program and the audit, Madore explained that Kimsey had opposed the program from the outset.

Kimsey has said that the program was investigated based on its merits, not a vested belief that it would fail.

Now Lauren hasn’t been around long, so she may be forgiven for not remembering Kimsey’s public comments regarding the fee waiver program as it was being instituted, which can be found in her own newspaper from May of 2013:

Last Tuesday night, County Auditor Greg Kimsey… advised the commissioners: “Waiving (development and engineering) fees on private schools, churches, restaurants, strip malls and other retail projects does not address Clark County’s unemployment problem. We need another Christensen Shipyard, not another McDonald’s.

So Kimsey, who was willing to make provocative comments in public on the fee waiver program before any results could be observed, doesn’t have a vested interest in being right? You don’t find that just a little bit curious, Lauren?

Over and over we are seeing our county auditor forgetting that he is supposed to be the voice of impartiality. He is supposed to stick to the facts as they happen, rather than steering them to suit his own political goals. His role is actually defined by statute. This is why he is under investigation, not because Republicans woke up one day and decided to purge one of their own elected officials. This auditor appears to believe he is running the county, rather than scrutinizing those who are elected to do so.

On Monday, the Clark County Republican Party submitted to the County Prosecutor a more comprehensive list of possible violations of election law and other statutes relating to Greg Kimsey’s promotion of the home rule charter, which passed in the November elections.

Letter2_Thumbnail

Click to read full CCRP letter

The 11-page request, which is signed by CCRP Chairman Kenny Smith, adds four additional possible RCW infractions to the original letter, sent on November 4th. The document cites Kimsey’s involvement in 2013 in the formation and fundraising for the overtly pro-Charter group ClarkForward, whose purpose, according to the letter, was to encourage legislation from the board of county commissioners to create a board of freeholders. If true, this would seem to be a violation of RCW 36.22.110, which specifically prohibits the auditor from representing others “seeking to procure any legislative or other action by the board of county commissioners.”

The letter also describes Kimsey’s publication (and possible authorship) of a two-page explanation of the background of the charter and ‘frequently asked questions’ in the voter’s pamphlet on pages 58-59, and his use of that voter’s pamphlet explanation as pro-charter campaign material. It further makes mention of a minority report that was signed and submitted in June by three of the elected freeholders to rebut the information and opinions presented in the charter explanation that was posted prominently on the Clark County Elections website. Among the questionable items that can still be read on that page, is this nugget:

“if the charter includes the initiative option, citizens could propose charter amendments through the initiative process.”

As the CCRP letter demonstrates (page 7), the initiative process is prevented by state law from either amending or repealing the charter. So, whenever anyone looked up ‘charter’ on the county elections website, this false information was the first link that came up (Oops!). The request from the authors of the minority report, Peter Silliman,Tracy Wilson, and Liz Pike to be allowed to post their response on the county website was ignored. Kimsey was the gatekeeper for content to be presented to the public, and apparently, he decided to only allow access to those freeholders who were in favor of the final charter. Ironically, the majority report, which did get posted on the county website, states that “members were nearly unanimous about what issues should be addressed in the charter”, despite three votes against and one abstention by Ann Rivers. While 11 out of 15 is a strong majority, it is only considered ‘nearly unanimous’ if the others are never allowed to speak. (Sound familiar?)

The letter (see link) asks some important questions about just how far an auditor can go to promote his political agenda while still performing his office in a purportedly impartial manner, as outlined by Washington State law. These questions need answers, and one would hope that Mr. Golik does his due diligence and pursues these answers in a thorough and unbiased manner.

The late votes have been counted. Like Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys, they came out of the hills and turned the tide of the battle. Like a cleansing rain on sidewalk chalk, they have washed away any ideas the Democrats might have had about taking over the county government. As we survey the political landscape in the wake of the 2014 elections, it is time to recognize that the Clark County Republicans are a revitalized bunch.

Of course the 18th District Republicans won handily, as they usually do, but you have to go back to the turn of the century to find the last time the 17th District delegation was completely Republican, back in the days when Marc Boldt was still considered a conservative. Yes, it was that long ago.

Then, of course, there are the County Commissioners. All three are now Republicans, or what the C-Tran board might refer to as a ‘block veto’. I couldn’t even find the last time this was the case, probably back in the days when Doug Lasher was considered ‘cutting edge’ and Betty Sue Morris was still using current photos of herself in press releases. We traded a Stuart for a Stewart, and the collective maturity level of the Commissioner board just increased tenfold. Are you like me? Would you pay to have a good seat the first time Jeanne Stewart walks back into a C-Tran meeting as a board member? It almost makes me want to bring a gavel in case anyone needs it.

Don’t look now, but even the 49th LD is back in play. At last count, Lisa Ross was pushing 45%, a total not seen by Republicans since 2010. Just imagine what Lisa and Anson Service might have done if their funding had been competitive. While Democrat Jim Moeller raised almost $100,000 for his race, Lisa Ross had only $20000 to work with. The disparity between Sharon Wylie and Anson Service was even more pronounced, with Wylie at $72,000 and Service at $9200. No word on whether the Columbian considers the Democrats to have bought the elections in the 49th.

So to what shall we attribute this across-the-board historical improvement in results? The Columbian offered this take on the difference:

They micro-targeted voters and then made sure to get their message across.

“Republicans got better at their ground game this election,” said Carolyn Long, a political scientist at WSU Vancouver.

You see, the Columbian has noticed something different about this Republican party. Instead of just hanging 50 signs per square mile and writing a lot of comments on Facebook and blogs that only preach to a very small choir, this version of the CCRP is employing a ‘ground game’. They are combining updated technology with greater energy and organization, and the resulting presence in elections is being marked, and leading to results that even WSU Vancouver professors can identify. This is a scenario that was difficult to imagine for anyone who attended the caucus or convention in 2012, but there has been a changing of the guard since then, and a lot more hands are pitching in than ever before, even while most of the old leadership largely sits on the sidelines (with a few exceptions). Better candidates are rising up from the ranks of a more open party, better ideas, and more empowered leaders from among ordinary folks. The goals that the PCO Liberty Alliance campaigned on are being put into practice with noticeable results.

This is what it looks like when the PCOs lead the party.