Well known conservative Kirby Wilbur is resigning as the chairman of the Washington State Republicans, the party has announced.
“I am resigning as the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, effective today at 5:00 PM,” Wilbur said in a news release distributed to reporters only a few minutes ago. “”I have been offered a five-year contract with the Young America’s Foundation that I would be foolish not to accept. I will be moving to the “other” Washington within the next couple of months to write this next chapter of my life.”
“It has been an honor to serve as chairman of the WSRP since January 2011. We have had many successes and I have had some failures. The Party has a good crop of up-and-coming leaders, and a strong staff, and it will continue to move forward no matter whose hand is on the helm,” he added.
Wilbur has served as chairman of the Washington State Republicans since he ousted former state senator Luke Esser from that position in 2011. Esser, ironically, became party chair after losing his state Senate seat to Rodney Tom in 2006.
Tom’s defection back to the Republican Party has allowed Wilbur to boast for the last few months that Washington Republicans control the Senate in Olympia. That boast was repeated in Wilbur’s resignation announcement:
Chairman Wilbur was elected to his first term in January 2011. Under his leadership, Washington elected the only statewide Republican official on the west coast in Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and picked up 1 seat in both the State Senate and the State House in 2012.
In late 2012, early 2013, two Democrats joined with our Republican Senators to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, thus giving Republicans a majority in at least one chamber of the Legislature for the first time since 2004. Chairman Wilbur was reelected to a second term in January 2013.
That’s some pretty nice spin there. So, according to the WSRP, Kirby had a hand in Kim Wyman’s narrow victory over Kathleen Drew. By that logic, he also had a hand in the defeats of Rob McKenna, Reagan Dunn, Michael Baumgartner, Bill Finkbeiner, James Watkins, Clint Didier, Sharon Hanek, and John R. Adams, who all ran for statewide office last year but lost to their Democratic opponents.
Under Wilbur, Republicans performed worse in statewide races than they have in any other cycle in recent memory. The party also failed to take open seats in Washington’s 1st, 6th, and 10th Congressional Districts, although freshman U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler won reelection in the 3rd District.
And considering that Wilbur and the Republicans had a goal of electing Republican majorities in both the House and Senate in 2012, the pickup of one seat in each house doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment.
The voters of Washington State elected Democratic majorities to the Legislature in 2012; but as Wilbur’s press release happily points out, power-hungry wannabe Republicans Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon decided to leave the Democratic caucus in the wake of the election in return for a pair of titles, nice offices, and what they thought would be influence within the Republican caucus.
From Wilbur’s perspective that was a positive development. He didn’t bring it about, but evidently something had to go into that oh, and for the record, here’s what I accomplished while I was the chair paragraph.
Vice Chair Luanne VanWerven will run the party as acting chair until a permanent successor to Wilbur is chosen. The party’s central committee must meet within the next three months to decide who the next chair will be.