[What follows is the entire WSRP Chair endorsement as sent to us by Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington Vice Chair Matt Dubin.]
On Sunday, August 11, the Board of Directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington met for its regular quarterly meeting. First on the agenda was the consideration of four candidates seeking election as Chair of the Washington State Republican Party. The mere fact that all four major candidates for this position drove to Ellensburg to present themselves to the RLC is a testament to the hard work we have done and to the passion and involvement of our membership across the State.
Prior to this meeting, the Board had already deliberated informally for a week with all of the County Chairs, who were in communication with their respective members. At the meeting, each candidate had three minutes to introduce themselves, followed by 5 minutes of questions from the members present and then questions from the board. After a brief discussion, the endorsement vote was postponed until midnight the following day to allow board members to conduct a final day of research and to obtain additional feedback from the membership.
When the votes were in there were 8 votes for Jim Walsh with one abstention.
(CORRECTION – 3:32PM August 13, 2013: Apparently the ninth vote was not an abstention, but was hung up in cyberspace. It was for Christian Berrigan, making the vote total 8 for Walsh and 1 for Berrigan).
Jim Walsh is a big man. In stature, personality and voice, Walsh can fill a room. If “bigness” was the sole qualification for being Washington State Republican Party Chair, Walsh would win by acclamation, and would easily step into the position so recently vacated by Kirby Wilbur.
However, the position Walsh is seeking requires much more than a commanding personality. The Washington State Republican Party is floundering. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The party is divided, demoralized and dragged down by top-heavy administrative costs. Donors are keeping their pocketbooks closed and grassroots activists are increasingly staying home. The causes of this malaise are many, and the solutions required are bold and dramatic. It will take an ongoing commitment to transparency, messaging, fundraising and activism to restore the party and to advance the cause of liberty.
Our new Chair must personify a commitment to fairness and transparency, with adherence to the rules and empowerment of the grassroots as his top priority. Such leadership will begin to ease the distrust that exists within the party and will allow us to once again articulate a clear, unifying message of liberty, free markets and limited, constitutional government, not just because they are good things to have, but because they will lead us to a healthier, happier, more prosperous society with greater opportunity for all Washingtonians.
In a recent email to the State Committee members who will be voting for our new chair on August 24, Walsh wrote:
“We can reject the proposition that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ sort of Republican—and that a few people sitting in an office in Bellevue can make the decision of which is which. We can embrace the decisions of the county committees and grassroots GOP groups as the voice of our marketplace speaking. The WSRP can rearrange its structure and psychology to draw from the counties up, instead of from the National Committee down. We can build transparency and trust. This isn’t easy. But it’s doable.”
This is exactly the kind of leadership we need at the top of the WSRP.
On messaging, Walsh is equally clear. As an accomplished author, small business owner and State Committeeman from Grays Harbor County, Walsh has a deep understanding of constitutional government and of the insidious threats to liberty that can result from the best of intentions.
Another excerpt from a Walsh email:
“When I’m Chairman, the first mission of the WSRP will be to give candidates and voters a political frame that’s clear and strong: Transparency in government at all levels. Lower taxes. Balanced budgets at all levels—even when they cut against programs we like. And, when it comes to prioritizing state spending, education comes first. These points may sound familiar to you, because you’re a political insider. We haven’t made them to the ordinary voter clearly enough, loudly enough or often enough.”
While many of us in the RLC take issue with the public education system, it is, pursuant to the Washington State Constitution, the highest priority in state spending, and Walsh understands this reality. He also understands that secrecy in government is the greatest threat to individual liberty. The same is true of secrecy in party government as well.
Walsh makes it clear that this emphasis on re-establishing trust within the Washington State Republican Party, and clarifying the messaging will inevitably lead to a resurgence in financial donations and will energize the army of grassroots activists who are just waiting to promote candidates they can believe in once again.
I want to thank all of the candidates who came to speak with us in Ellensburg. It took character for Luanne Van Werven to come to a group that she knew would probably oppose her candidacy. It was gratifying when Susan Hutchinson acknowledged the dedication and organizational skill of the liberty movement here in Washington and expressed her desire to incorporate that energy into the WSRP.
I particularly want to thank Christian Berrigan. Berrigan is the Operations Director of the Clark County Republican Party, and has been fighting (with significant success) to advance liberty, limited government and grassroots autonomy for a long time. He is a true asset to the liberty movement in Washington, and his presentation on Sunday made the endorsement decision very difficult for many of us on the Board. In the final analysis, for this election, at this time, the Board simply believed that Walsh is the better candidate. I personally expect to continue seeing great things from Berrigan, and would not be at all surprised to see him in party leadership very soon.
At the end of the day, the Republican Liberty Caucus does not elect the next State Chair. Of our nine member board, only one of us sits on the State Committee and we do not claim to control a single vote. Rather, we represent the hopes, aspirations and frustrations of thousands of ordinary Washingtonians who are deeply troubled by the proliferation of big government programs and their advocates, and who seek to restore a commitment to liberty, free markets and limited, constitutional government, first within the Republican Party, and then at all levels of government.
The members of the Committee would be well advised to consider our endorsement and to give Jim Walsh their full and open-minded consideration. We believe that after giving his candidacy the appropriate due diligence, they will agree with us that he is the best person for the job.