Can the Washington State GOP be Saved?

by lewwaters

Not grabbing headlines just yet is Americans for Prosperity State Director and radio host Kirby Wilbur announcing his intent to challenge Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser for the party’s top spot in 2011.

In a November 9th notice sent to the Everett Herald Wilbur said,

“We did make some gains last Tuesday, but not as many as we should have, given that the voters rejected the income tax and candy tax so overwhelmingly and reinstated 960 as well by a large margin. I have gotten a lot of support and encouragement from within the party and have a vision for the state party and I think the skills and talent to bring it about.” 

A careful review of the general election results this year and comparison to other regions shows that the Republican Party is due for a major shake-up in Washington State and also at several county level parties’.

At a time the Republicans made great strides across the nation, the left coast states did poorly, making few gains at all. With the unpopularity of Democrat party elected officials, it is unthinkable that the GOP could not have done better in Washington State and Clark County.

November 3, the day after the election, the Clark County GOP prominently boasted, “Clark County Republicans Pick Up Seats.” Did they really?

Bruce Chandler and David Taylor both kept their seats in the 15th Legislative District. Ed Orcutt kept his in the 18th and Ann Rivers retained the seat vacated by Jaime Herrera. Paul Harris won back the seat vacated by Deb Wallace in the 17th, but Tim Probst held onto his seat in the 17th. In the 49th legislative district Democrats, Jim Moeller and Jim Jacks held onto their seat in spite of heavy dislike of Democrats in general nationwide.

Moeller is the author of the disastrous “candy tax” that went down in flames with the approval of initiative 1107 by voters by a significant margin, 61% to 39%. Yet Moeller easily won by a margin of 53.5% to 46.5% against an extremely capable opponent, businessman Craig Riley.

Likewise, Democrat Probst won by a similar margin against successful businessman Brian Peck, while Paul Harris easily defeated Democrat opponent Monica Stonier by an almost identical margin, but in favor of the GOP.

Given the general distaste for Democrats this election, Moeller and Probst should have been fairly easy pickings for the GOP to pick up.

Discarding the lesser offices claimed by the Clark County GOP, which really have no partisan affect, they gained one seat in the state legislature for Clark County and of course, establishment party princess Jaime Herrera coasted to her triumphant return to the land of her dreams, Washington D.C. for at least the next 2 years.

The Washington State legislature remains in Democrat Party hands over all as does the senate.

Pacific County, part of the Congressional District Herrera won had not one Republican candidate even file for a local office run. Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties had few Republican candidates for local office with the 19th legislative district covering Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties easily remaining Democrat. Cowlitz County, part of the 18th, retained the seats previously held by GOP officials.

Compared to the rest of the nation, Washington State GOP did not fare very well in changing the face of government, given that Democrat Patty Murray won another term as Senator despite her support for unpopular taxes and policies currently bankrupting the nation.

Former conservative candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, David Castillo, himself rolled over by the establishment machine who salivated at the prospect of sending Herrera back to the D.C. party circuit asks the question, “How did the tsunami that hit at the Congressional and Legislative level miss Washington State?”

He answers,

“These results speak to a glaring lack of a sustained ground game on the part of Republicans. More specifically, it speaks to a lack of dedicated, grassroots doorknocks and phone calls overseen by the Washington State Republican Party and implemented by GOP County Chairs throughout the state. In short, the Democrats are now kicking our butts in an arena in which the GOP used to dominate.” 

As I see it, David is partly right. The effort was there though, but only for one candidate, Jaime Herrera who campaigned on canned talking points and never presented any ideas. Calls for phone banks, doorbelling, sign waving and such that went out all were more focused on her than good quality candidates like Craig Riley and Brian Peck, whose state legislative seats they vied for have more direct effect on us than one single seat back in D.C.

Bryan Myrick at Red County sees problems with the GOP hierarchy in his post, Missing the Big Wave: Washington State Republicans Are Left Hanging Zero.

At last word Esser has no intention of stepping aside, as I doubt county chairs Nansen Malin and Ryan Hart of Pacific and Clark counties and chairs of the other county parties in Southwest Washington have either, in spite of mediocre performances at best, dismal results in actuality.

While the party chairs might be puffing out their chests over Herrera’s win, which it is doubtful will be much of a strong representative once the dust settles, should also feel shame over such poor results in other races within the state and should be held accountable by party members.

I wish Kirby Wilbur much luck in his quest and hope we can see similar challenges throughout Southwest Washington and in the future start winning a few other elections.

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