Walsh eyeing WA Republican Chair as Heimlich departs

Jun 7, 2023, 5:36 PM

republican chair heimlich walsh...

Caleb Heimlich (left), Jim Walsh (right)


Caleb Heimlich, the head of the Washington State Republican Party, is stepping down as chair this summer, ending a five-year run that made him one of the youngest state party Chairs in the country. Heimlich, 37, first became Chair in 2018.

“I’ve been at the state Republican Party now for 12 and a half years,” Heimlich told Jason Rantz on 770 AM KTTH. “I started when I was 25. I was single, I had a lot more hair. Now, 12 years later, I’ve gotten married. I have three kids. It got to the point where the demands of the job, in addition to the two-hour commute up and two-hour commute back, were just not sustainable for a family and I decided to take a different position where I could be a little bit more present as they’re growing up, still making a difference. Still staying in the fight for a better country and more freedom and opportunity for all, but just in a different capacity.”

While Heimlich told Rantz nothing has been announced yet pending his future, he did confirm he’s spearheading a national grassroots organization, which will be working with states outside of Washington, all to create and support strong, quality candidates advocating for freedom and conservative causes.

Inside the ugly fight to become the next Republican chair

“An opportunity to take a different role presented itself and, as I evaluated it, I felt like the party is in a good position for a transition,” Heimlich said. “This is an ok time to get a new person in, get their feet wet, and then really hit the ground running going into next year’s big cycle. But the party has money in the bank. We’ve got a good staff. So I felt like it was a good time as any to pass the baton.”

Heimlich was the longest-lasting Republican Chair since Jennifer Dunn held the position from 1981 to 1992. There have been 11 Chairs since.

“Maybe you’ll run for a position at some point in the future,” Rantz stated.

“That might be in the cards,” Heimlich responded. “We’ll see what happens down the road.”

Jim Walsh running for Republican Chair

Among those considering a run for the soon-to-be vacated spot, Jim Walsh, who was first elected in 2016 to the Washington state House of Representatives, has thrown his hat in the ring to be Heimlich’s successor as the state’s Republican Chair.

“The reason is my district (19) is a district that used to be considered impossible for a conservative,” Walsh told Rantz on 770 AM KTTH. “It was considered a deep blue district. They called it a blue wall and, living in it for most of my adult life, I knew that there was more to it than that. The people of my district are not cogs. They are not automatons who vote automatically. They are people, and they wanted good things for themselves and their families and their kids.”

His overarching platform is to give Washington residents more accurate and honest representation, using his previous stint as a state representative as a way to manage the inner workings of Olympia in contrast to listening to the people of Washington.

“It shows me both the inside game in Olympia, and to some degree D.C., as well as the outside game of what regular normal people think about politics and about policy — what works in government and what doesn’t,” Walsh said. “So I do think it helps give a 360-degree view of how we can make the system work better for more people.”

Don Benton (2000-01), Chris Vance (2001-06), and Luanne Van Werven (2013) were the only Republican Chairs to be former politicians in the last 25 years in the state.

Tiffany Smiley, who lost the Senate race against Patty Murray last year, decided to do something similar to Heimlich by launching a new political action committee (PAC) called Endeavor, committed to training and elevating the people of America who won’t stand for the status quo.

Smiley: We need strong leaders, we don’t need politicians

“Some of it is we need to do a better job of building infrastructure, like campaign infrastructure,” Walsh said in regards to Republicans winning more elections. “That’s boots on the ground, ground game, whatever you want to call it. It’s a more organized system. It’s a human system. It’s people. It’s finding people and activating people and getting people — local people and local communities — something that they can believe in. Something they can get excited about.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Walsh eyeing WA Republican Chair as Heimlich departs