NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Kirby Wilbur resigns as Washington State Republican Party Chair, effective immediately

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.

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One Comment

  1. I guess from his their stand point, the grid­lock in the sen­ate could be seen as a vic­to­ry, but it looks like Kir­by’s lead­er­ship will not be missed by either par­ty.

    # by Mike Barer :: July 29th, 2013 at 8:33 PM