Politics Blog

Video: State GOP chairwoman talks strategy before Whatcom party fundraiser

I had seven minutes to conduct an interview with the top figure in the Washington state Republican Party.

State party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison sat down with me on Saturday, March 21, outside the banquet hall at the Best Western Lakeway Inn. Hutchison was a guest at the county Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser. Also in attendance were a who’s who of local and state Republicans, including Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond.

In case you’re not steeped in Olympia gossip, an email emerged earlier this month that suggested Hill would run for governor in 2016. Our sister paper the Tacoma News Tribune reported the news as little more than rumor with an unverified email to back it up. The Stranger sounded more definitive in its reporting, saying the email’s author, ex-Secretary of State Sam Reed, confirmed its authenticity.

To attend the Whatcom party, Hill took time out of his busy job as lead author of the 2015-17 state budget for the Senate side; he is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

I also saw 42nd Legislative District lawmakers Doug Ericksen and Luanne Van Werven, Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis, Ferndale City Council member Jon Mutchler, County Council member Barbara Brenner and Auditor Debbie Adelstein, who said she plays both sides of the fence and attends Democratic events, too. This is not a complete list of elected officials present — just who my eyes saw and my mind remembered.

In the interview, I asked Hutchison how Senate Republicans were doing in the session so far, what the prospects were for winning the state House in 2016 (Republicans took four seats in 2014, narrowing the Democrats’ lead in that chamber to 51-47), and what she had to say about Van Werven, who ran unsuccessfully against Hutchison for the vacant state chair in 2013. Hutchison has since been re-elected unanimously, having run unopposed. Van Werven went on to leave state party office in 2014 (she was vice chairwoman) to run for and win the 42nd District seat vacated by Jason Overstreet.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the video. Hutchison and I set up hastily, knowing her time was very short. Whatcom State Committeeman Greg Brown loomed over us during the interview and whisked Hutchison away as soon as she finished answering my last question.

Besides, I never claimed to be a videographer. You’ve probably noticed that shooting video has become a new emphasis at The Bellingham Herald. I figured I’d set the bar real low to start, so I have some chance of showing improvement.

Warning to readers (especially left-leaning): This video and post are not meant to be even-handed. I entered Republican territory, shot six minutes, 14 seconds of video, chopped that down to a minute-plus, and called it good. Commenters can provide the missing balance in the space provided below.