Susan Hutchinson has been elected to chair the Washington State Republican Party, defeating three challengers that included local Clark County GOP Operations Director Christian Berrigan and interim party chair Luanne Van Werven, as well as
Pierce County’s Grays Harbor County’s James Walsh.
Local favorite Christian Berrigan was defeated in the first round along with James Walsh, Berrigan receiving 11 votes, Walsh receiving 16. Susan Hutchinson Hutchinson received 39 behind Luanne Van Werven’s 41 in first round balloting.
The second round ended up with 59 votes for Hutchison, 46 for Luanne Van Werven who has been serving as interim party chair since Kirby Wilbur’s resignation.
Hutchinson’s speech has been largely credited with her winning the chair. That speech may be heard in full HERE
You may also listen to a brief interview of Susan Hutchinson, August 26, 2013 on KUOW News HERE
Although fairly new to the political scene, Berrigan was the local favorite of the Republican Liberty Caucus and gained much support with the state RLC along with garnering endorsements from State Senator Don Benton (R 17th) and City Council Candidate Frank Decker.
Some local activists were irritated that Berrigan did not receive the state RLC endorsement early on, they giving it to James Walsh.
The Republican Liberty Caucus is largely seen as a group within the party that grew out of the Ron Paul campaigns of old, one group in another state back in 2007 boasting of plans to Take Over the GOP!
Many felt Van Werven to be favored by establishment party elements since she was serving as interim chair, but apparently, enough supporters of Walsh and Berrigan threw their support behind Hutchinson.
Hutchinson came under fire when she first announced due to her distancing herself somewhat from the party in 2009 when she ran for a nonpartisan seat as King County Executive, losing to Dow Constantine.
She said of her downplaying her Republican credentials in that race, “that was what was required in that job — it was a nonpartisan position. I ran a very good nonpartisan campaign and if the other side would have run a good nonpartisan campaign it would have been a fair contest.”
In running as WSRP Chair Hutchinson is quoted as saying, “the [WSRP] is ‘nearly broke,’ has a ‘useless’ web site and a get-out-the-vote operation that is ‘spotty in most counties and ineffective in our most populous counties.’ Can it get worse? Of course it can. The Democrats are not playing dead.”
In her announcement of running for the Chair, Hutchinson said, “The upcoming election represents a new chance to grow and strengthen the Republican Party at a crucial time in our state and nation. There is no time to lose! We need a Chair with superior skills in fundraising, communication, media, and elections. Most of all, we need a Chair who will unite the party so that we can unite state voters to elect our candidates!”
It is no secret that the WSRP has been largely a neutered party with deep divides. It has not won a governor’s race in our state since the early 1980’s and has been the minority party in Olympia for over a decade, notwithstanding two moderate Democrats joining in with the GOP in the Senate to form a one seat majority for a “Philosophical Majority Coalition.”
No doubt Ms. Hutchinson has her work cut out for her in dealing with the competing factions of the party. You have the deeply entrenched moderates, RINO’s to many of us, old guard conservatives and the new libertarian breed wanting to take over the party.
It is anybody’s guess if she will be able to gain much cooperation between the factions.
But, I do wish her the best of luck and give congratulations to her.