Former Congressman Dave Reichert was seen on Saturday energizing a crowd of fellow Republicans at Kamiakin Middle School in Kirkland. He sported his iconic leather King County Sheriff’s jacket, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere of the event.
Reichert, who is currently running for the state’s highest office, has a clear message: “There’s a time to negotiate and a time to kick the door down. It’s time to kick down the governor’s door.” Drawing from his experience leading SWAT teams, he likens his current political endeavor to taking decisive action.
The crowd erupted in cheers as they witnessed the thrilling action movie scenes unfolding before their eyes. It seemed as though their excitement was fueled by a deep-seated frustration towards the Republicans, who had been completely excluded from holding any statewide offices in Washington. Reichert, however, has set his sights on changing this prevailing trend and aims to bring about a new era of representation.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is set to depart from office once his third term concludes next January. Reichert, on the other hand, aspires to become the first Republican governor in this heavily Democratic state since the 1980s. However, he faces stiff competition from various contenders across the political spectrum in the upcoming primary season.
To secure victory in November as a Republican candidate in a predominantly blue state, where Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump by a significant margin, it is crucial for Reichert to garner support from voters with centrist leanings. However, before he can focus on winning over these swing voters, Reichert recognizes the importance of rallying the Republican Party faithful. That’s why he made an appearance at the GOP event in Kirkland.
Republicans gathered in Kirkland for a legislative district caucus with the purpose of selecting 40 delegates for the GOP state convention in Spokane. This year, the state convention will witness the endorsement of up to 2,500 delegates for candidates running in the U.S. Senate, all 10 House races, and statewide offices, including the governor.
It is quite unconventional for the Washington State Republican Party to make endorsements before the August primary election, as they typically wait until after this crucial event. However, this year, they have decided to break tradition and will be announcing their endorsements in April, during the state Republican convention. This change in timing is certainly a departure from the norm, and it will be interesting to see how it impacts the political landscape leading up to the primary election.
Party officials have revealed that the decision to take legal action was prompted by Washington’s top two primary system. Under this system, only the two candidates with the highest number of votes proceed to the general election, irrespective of their political party. This often results in situations where no Republican candidate is able to secure a spot on the general election ballot for important races.
Paul Hess, the rules chair for the Republican state convention, expressed his frustration regarding the lack of Republican candidates on the ballot for certain statewide offices in recent elections. He specifically mentioned the 2022 race for secretary of state, where no Republican appeared on the general election ballot. This absence of representation has been a source of disappointment for Hess and the Republican party.
Steve Hobbs, the victor, made history by becoming the first Democratic secretary of state in over half a century. In 2021, Governor Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat, appointed Hobbs to the position after Republican Kim Wyman stepped down.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, is currently leading the polls in the race for governor this year. However, there is also another well-known Democrat, Mark Mullet, who has a chance to make it through to the general election. This scenario would be unfavorable for Republicans, and they are hoping to prevent it from happening. Their goal is to give their candidates a head start and avoid any potential challenges.
According to Republican party officials, early endorsements have the potential to unlock a wave of campaign donations and support earlier than in previous election cycles. This could potentially enable at least one Republican candidate to advance and compete in the November elections.
Dale Fonk, the chair of the 45th District Republicans in King County, expressed the objective of the convention in Spokane as aiming to present a unified candidate for each elective office.
The shift this year brings about a change in dynamics for candidates like Dave Reichert. Not only will he have to contend with a strong lineup of Democrats, including State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, but he also has to be wary of potential challenges within his own party. Fellow Republican Semi Bird, a former Richland School Board member, has accused Reichert of not being conservative enough and could potentially outmaneuver him at the state convention.
The Washington State Democratic Party does not officially endorse candidates, although local party groups often do so at the district or county level. However, the party’s leader expressed a clear opinion about the Republicans’ decision to move up their endorsements to April this year.
“No matter which candidate is chosen, it is evident that they will strongly support Donald Trump’s risky MAGA agenda. They will continue to undermine reproductive healthcare, weaken our democracy, and further benefit the wealthiest Americans with yet another tax cut, just like Trump,” stated Shasti Conrad, Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, in a written statement to KUOW.
The GOP plan aims to shift power away from regular voters and towards dedicated grassroots activists who run to become statewide delegates. If successful, the endorsed candidates would become the nominees after the August primary, marking a significant change in the political landscape.
The big question remains: will the delegates be more inclined to nominate MAGA conservatives such as Semi Bird, or candidates like Dave Reichert, who identifies as more of a centrist in his politics, as he shared in an interview with KUOW?
“Reichert believes that people are craving a return to the old Dragnet detective show mentality, where the focus is on presenting the facts and nothing else. In his words, it’s about staying grounded and avoiding extreme viewpoints. Quoting Reichert, he said, ‘It’s just the facts, ma’am.’ This suggests that there is a collective desire for a more rational and balanced approach to information.”
The Republican state convention will take place in Spokane from April 18-20.