Author: Matt Dubin

Republican Liberty Caucus of WA: Elect James Walsh as WSRP Chair

[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.

A Time for Choosing Redux | Guest Commentary

MattDubinCommentaryBulletThe sudden and completely unexpected resignation of Kirby Wilbur as Washington State Republican Party Chairman presents a rare opportunity for us to unite and invigorate our party. Within the next ninety days, the State Committee will elect a replacement Chair. They will either select a Chair who will continue the division and infighting within our party, or they will select someone who can unite the party behind our core principles. This decision will determine the success or failure of Washington State Republican candidates for years to come.

For the past several years, WSRP leadership has expended inordinate energy and resources on fighting perceived threats from within the party. They have opposed the libertarian wing of the party with particular vehemence and venom. This infighting has drained the party of time and money to take the fight to the Democrats, and it has created deep division and resentment within the party. Instead of broadening the base, the cynical actions of leadership, both here in King County and statewide, have diminished the party in numbers and in influence.

It is time for this nonsense to stop.

Whoever is elected to replace Kirby must be committed to restoring the WSRP as a bottom-up organization, guided and directed by the grassroots members who make the party what it is.  Every faction within the Party must have a voice.  Fair and open procedures must be implemented and adhered to.  No longer can County Chairs be permitted to run their party organizations as private kingdoms, obstructing the right of the party members to select their own leadership, establish their own priorities and nominate the candidates of their choice.

Whoever is elected to replace Kirby must immediately go on the public offensive.  No more can we afford to let the state Democrats and the media define us. We must vocally and continually call them on their lies and misrepresentations of Republicans. When they portray us as cold and uncaring, or as pawns for the big banks and corporations, we have a moral obligation to correct them. We must aggressively get our message directly to the voters of Washington. Of course, first that message must be true.

For too long we have preached the gospel of limited government while continually invoking the force of big government to control how people live their lives. This inconsistency has not escaped the attention of the voters. If we hope to succeed, we must return to an honest commitment to smaller government, greater liberty and free markets, presenting the people with a true alternative to the vision of the Democrats.

Our new Chair must be able to articulate this foundational premise: “We do what we do because we want a freer, healthier, more prosperous society with greater opportunity for all.” From that premise, we can garner support for policies which we believe will advance those universally held objectives.

We are the party of freedom and responsibility. We must remind the voters that one is impossible without the other.

Freedom truly unites people of all ages, genders, ethnic and socio-economic status. We are the party determined to empower every family to live their lives and raise their children as they see fit. From health care, education, employment, recreation, retirement planning and more, we are the party that trusts people to run their lives better than the government.

But just as the most “progressive” household has to manage a budget and pay its bills on time, so must the government. If you don’t pay your bills, you will lose your freedom.  Likewise, when the government assumes liabilities it cannot afford, the liberty of every one of us is endangered. Our new chair must be able to preach the value of prudent, fiscally responsible, smaller government, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it helps insure that each of us will be able to continue living the life we choose for ourselves, without undue interference by government.

The task before our new state Chair is daunting. In many ways, the WSRP is broken. It’s been nearly 30 years since we’ve elected a Republican Governor, and the party leadership has been drifting, seemingly rudderless, for far too long. However, Kirby’s abrupt departure presents a rare opportunity for the right person to unite the Party, realign us with our basic governing principles, and begin to get the message out to the Washington voters.  We thank Kirby for his service, and we wish him well in his new position, but it is now time to look forward.

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington and of King County intends to be actively involved in the selection of the next chair, and we pray that the State Committee has the strength and wisdom to select the person who can restore the WSRP to relevance and end the long night for Washington Republicans.

Matt Dubin is the Chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of King County.


[Originally posted on the Republican Liberty Caucus of King County website]

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