As the saying goes, it’s out with the old and in with the new at the Washington State Republican Party with a surprise announcement Tuesday morning that chair Susan Hutchison will step down on February 4, according to an official release.

“The WSRP is in a robust financial position with a bright future. I expect that 2018 will result in many exciting wins for the GOP in our state—among them, Dino Rossi will hold the 8th Congressional seat, the Republicans will move into leadership in the State House of Representatives by flipping at least one seat, and there might even be some surprises in the State Senate,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison was elected chair in 2013 to serve out the remainder of outgoing Chair Kirby Wilbur‘s term after he stepped aside to head up the Young America’s Foundation’s journalism program. She was re-elected in 2015 and 2017 to consecutive two-year terms.

According to the WSRP’s announcement, the man or woman who will serve out the remainder of the current term will be elected at the party’s state committee meeting scheduled for January 20 in Moses Lake.

Northwest Daily Marker was also shown an email Hutchison sent to members of the state committee and executive board, a graceful exit note in which she offered her insights about the qualities the party should seek in her successor but did not offer any hints about her future plans.

It’s not a secret that the party has struggled to contend with voter angst regarding Pres. Donald Trump, particularly in suburban parts of Western Washington where Republicans had experienced some success in recent years. However, last year’s loss of the 45th legislative district state Senate race has been quietly discussed among insiders as an early warning of a possible tsunami ahead. Hutchison was a strident supporter of Trump throughout the bumps, gaffes, and sporadic flourishes of the 2016 presidential race.

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The complete release from the WSRP is as follows:

Susan Hutchison Stepping Down as WSRP Chairman

The longtime Chairman of the WSRP, Susan Hutchison, announced today that she will step down from her leadership role on February 4, 2018. “The WSRP is in a robust financial position with a bright future. I expect that 2018 will result in many exciting wins for the GOP in our state—among them, Dino Rossi will hold the 8th Congressional seat, the Republicans will move into leadership in the State House of Representatives by flipping at least one seat, and there might even be some surprises in the State Senate, “Susan said.

Elected soon after the 2012 elections, Susan took over a party that was demoralized and broke. As a skilled fundraiser, she substantially increased small-dollar and major donor contributions. “Unlike the Democrats, we don’t have the public employee unions writing us big checks to keep the lights on, so we depend on the investments of more than 7,000 loyal Republicans throughout the state.” That money is used to win elections at every level of government, with emphasis on those serving “under the dome” in Olympia. In fact, during Susan’s chairmanship, the GOP flipped 9 seats to the Democrats’ 3 takeaways in Olympia.

As leader of the 125-member State Central Committee, Susan is known for fairness and respect for other’s views. “Whether at the State Committee meetings or the huge State Convention, Chairman Hutchison presides with strength and skill. Everyone trusts her to hold the balance between allowing every voice to be heard and maintaining order,” says Caleb Heimlich, who has served under two chairmen as WSRP Executive Director. “We all think she is a great leader.”

Chairman Hutchison is recognized at the RNC for her professional management of the WSRP and has trained others how to turn their state parties around. “I’m particularly proud of the talented men and women who serve alongside me. Together, we have grown the resources that political parties need to help candidates, volunteers and elected officials. Training, voter registration and identification, data, messaging and fundraising are some of the services we provide.”

Susan serves on the RNC Executive Committee, appointed by RNC Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel who also asked her to be on the Transition Committee in early 2017. “I’m pleased that the national party recognizes the quality of the three members of the Washington delegation, including Jeff Kent, National Committeeman and Fredi Simpson, National Committeewoman, alongside whom I have been honored to serve,” Susan said.

Susan was elected to the Debate Committee during the 2015-16 Republican Primary season. “The highlight of that long and unique Primary contest was our voters selecting a candidate who would go on to win the Presidency. I never doubt the voters’ wisdom—it’s the core of democracy,” Susan said. “President Trump has made good on his promises in 2017 and I look forward to what 2018 will bring.”

Susan is in her 5th year as Chairman, having served twice as long as the average tenure of her 7 predecessors. “I have loved this job–especially the challenges. I hope I will be remembered for being strong and courageous, standing up for Republican voters.”

Election for a new WSRP Chairman will be held at the winter State Committee meeting on January 20, 2018 in Moses Lake. After a two-week transition, the new Chairman will start February 5, 2018.