Susan Hutchison
Susan Hutchison at a candidate forum in North Bend

With less than an hour and a half to go until the close of Fil­ing Week 2018, for­mer Repub­li­can State Par­ty Chair Susan Hutchi­son has filed to run against incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell — we pre­sume with the back­ing of the state par­ty orga­ni­za­tion she was pre­vi­ous­ly in charge of.

Hutchi­son joins an extreme­ly crowd­ed field that includes a whop­ping twen­ty-eight oth­er chal­lengers to Cantwell… more than a dozen of whom iden­ti­fy as Republicans.

Cantwell is seek­ing a fourth term in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate this autumn. She was first elect­ed to that posi­tion in 2000, when she nar­row­ly defeat­ed entrenched Repub­li­can incum­bent Slade Gor­ton. She eas­i­ly won reelec­tion in 2006 and 2012 over Repub­li­can chal­lengers Mike McGav­ick and Michael Baumgartner.

Repub­li­cans have had plen­ty of time to find a cred­i­ble can­di­date to chal­lenge Cantwell and car­ry their stan­dard in 2018, but they’ve squan­dered it.

That could explain why more than a dozen dif­fer­ent peo­ple had filed to take on Cantwell as Repub­li­cans pri­or to Hutchison’s fil­ing a few min­utes ago.

It does not look like Hutchi­son has been under­tak­ing any prepa­ra­tions to enter the race, which promis­es to be extreme­ly daunt­ing. (Wash­ing­ton State has­n’t elect­ed a Repub­li­can to the U.S. Sen­ate since 1994, and 2018 looks like it’ll be a Demo­c­ra­t­ic year). Her web­site is not oper­a­tional, and she has­n’t even tweet­ed about her can­di­da­cy yet. Her Twit­ter biog­ra­phy still refers to her as the “Chair­man” of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­cans, a posi­tion she gave up months ago.

Hutchi­son became noto­ri­ous last cycle for her deep embrace of Don­ald Trump. When it became appar­ent that Trump was on his way to the nom­i­na­tion, Hutchi­son enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly hitched her wag­on up to his, and became a high­ly loy­al, fawn­ing sur­ro­gate. In fact, she became so devot­ed to Trump that she clashed with Ted Cruz over his fail­ure to fall into line and endorse the nom­i­nee at the 2016 RNC.

Pri­or to becom­ing Repub­li­can State Par­ty Chair, Hutchi­son ran for King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive in 2009 against Dow Con­stan­tine. She was trounced, soundly.

(Con­stan­tine has since been reelect­ed twice and remains at the helm of the county.)

Hutchi­son, a for­mer tele­vi­sion news anchor, like­ly has enough name recog­ni­tion and will prob­a­bly have enough mon­ey by August to beat the oth­er twen­ty-eight peo­ple (so far) who have an ambi­tion to take on Maria Cantwell.

But even if she man­ages that, Hutchi­son will head into the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion at a seri­ous dis­ad­van­tage. As men­tioned, Repub­li­cans have not won a U.S. Sen­ate race in Wash­ing­ton State in twen­ty-four years.

(And that’s not all. They haven’t won a guber­na­to­r­i­al race or secured Wash­ing­ton’s Elec­toral Col­lege votes in almost forty years.)

Are there any Repub­li­cans who could take on Cantwell and win in 2018?

Our research sug­gests not.

Last year, we sur­veyed over eight hun­dred like­ly 2018 Wash­ing­ton vot­ers and asked them whether they would pre­fer Maria Cantwell or for­mer Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na in a hypo­thet­i­cal matchup. 53% said they would back Cantwell, while only 40% said they would vote for McKen­na. McKen­na, in our view, would make a much stronger chal­lenger to Cantwell; he would be a top tier recruit.

But even he trails Cantwell by dou­ble dig­its accord­ing to our polling. And he does­n’t have the bag­gage that Susan Hutchi­son has.

Hutchison’s asso­ci­a­tion with Trump ought to help her push those oth­er Repub­li­cans aside — espe­cial­ly if Trump tweets on her behalf from the oth­er coast. But that same asso­ci­a­tion also makes her une­lec­table in Wash­ing­ton State. It’s hard to imag­ine an eas­i­er mark for the Democ­rats than the for­mer Repub­li­can state par­ty chair.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “Former Republican State Party Chair Susan Hutchison files to run against Maria Cantwell”

  1. This would be Hutchison’s first statewide race. It’s a mat­ter of whether there are Trump coat­tails that she can ride in Red parts of the state. Maybe even King Coun­ty. If there was an anti­estab­lish­ment wave in the state, I could see it, but it just does­n’t add up.
    I think Maria has got this one.

  2. I want to sup­port Suzan Hutchi­son to defeat Maria Cantwell. 

    Keep me informed.

    Every per­son I sup­port­ed in Pend Oreille Coun­ty in East­ern Wash­ing­ton got elected.

    Susan, we must defeat Cantwell.

    Onward to win.

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