Boos, chaos at Washington GOP convention over gubernatorial candidate endorsement

Apr 17, 2024, 6:33 PM | Updated: Apr 20, 2024, 4:07 pm

Photo: Then-Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., speaks on Nov. 6, 2018, at a Republican party election nig...

Dave Reichert says he doesn't want endorsement from state Republicans. (File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

The Washington GOP convention in Spokane is looking more like a demolition derby than a meeting of the minds.

Initially, Republican party officials announced they would not endorse a candidate for the upcoming governor’s race. The decision stems from candidate Semi Bird pleading guilty in 1993 to a misdemeanor count of bank larceny for lying on a credit application by using the name and Social Security number of his father, as a story The Seattle Times published Wednesday explained.

Bird told the Times there was no excuse for his actions and that he was “100% guilty.”

State officials have said Bird may be disqualified for an endorsement because of a prior conviction.

In a separate piece Friday, the Times reported Bird’s supporters, who are clearly in the majority of delegates at the party event in Eastern Washington, quickly voted to reverse officials’ decision and an endorsement vote is set to take place Saturday.

The disarray has led to the leading gubernatorial candidate, Dave Reichert, stating in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, to withdraw his name form endorsement consideration.

In the past 24 hours, it has become clear that some in the Washington State Republican Party are in such disarray that they’re considering making no endorsement for governor. This, after they continually changed rules, broke rules, and twisted the process to accomplish their desired outcome. I’m not here to fix the party but to fix our broken state. Given these deceptive and dishonest events, I’m withdrawing my name for consideration for the gubernatorial endorsement through this convention process.

‘I have my own personal beliefs:’ Reichert speaks on same-sex marriage following Ferguson’s post

‘If people want to vote for Dave, you can do it’

Party leaders scheduled the convention ahead of candidate filing in May to prevent primary races where Republicans split the vote in a way that leaves them off the November ballot. This happened in the 2022 secretary of state’s race when an independent slipped past three GOP contenders.

Meantime, the governor’s situation is not the only issue of contention.

“There’s going to be drama. Everything is not already decided,” Jim Walsh, chair of the Washington State Republican Party said, The Washington State Standard reported this week before the convention began. “This is what people wanted. They wanted a real convention.”

And a real convention it is. So far, no endorsements have come from the group.

“Tomorrow we can still amend the ballot for a vote that includes both Semi, he will be voted on, and any write-in candidate who people want to vote on,” John Goik, vice-chair of the candidate committee, said. “So, if people want to vote for Dave, you can do it.”

Many delegates said they have been confused by the voting process and wish leadership “would get it together.”

From Jason Rantz: Bob Ferguson shut off comments to avoid criticism after Dave Reichert attack ad

Even getting into the meeting hall was a circus with long lines of people going through metal detectors.

The meeting continues through Saturday but can be extended if needed.

Contributing: Steve Coogan

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here

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