Nona Brazier, who had hoped to be Washington’s first African-American governor, on Friday bowed out of the race to become state Republican Party chairman.
The Maple Valley businesswoman endorsed U.S. Rep. Randy Tate, who was bounced from his 9th District office this month, for the state GOP post.
Brazier said another candidate, state House Majority Leader Dale Foreman, is too elitist for the job.
But Foreman, who narrowly lost the Republican nomination for governor to Ellen Craswell in September, said he has a 20-year record of working with diverse elements of the party and is no elitist. He said he is picking up strong support from party activists and leaders and should win the election on Jan. 25.
The scramble was set off by Ken Eikenberry’s decision to step down after two terms as chairman. He has made no endorsement for a successor.
Brazier, a fiery speaker who served a term as King County GOP chairwoman, had hoped to use the contacts she made in the gubernatorial primary to help win the chairmanship.
But in an interview Friday, she said she has decided to be the primary caretaker for her mother, Emma, 74, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
“We just brought her in from El Paso, Texas, and she is definitely a handful,” Brazier said. “She doesn’t know who I am and sometimes she is very agitated. This will take a whole lot of time.
“It’s family time right now. End of discussion. I am definitely out of the race.”
Brazier’s campaign finances from the governor’s race are being scrutinized by the state Public Disclosure Commission. The Seattle Times reported Thursday that her campaign is nearly two months late in filing required reports and provided no documentation for how she spent nearly $2,500 in campaign funds for travel and other expenses.
Previously she was criticized for owing more than $500,000 in back taxes and government fees for her business ventures and her home.
On Friday, she said no campaign funds were misspent and that a proper accounting will be made.
“Absolutely everything is accountable for, I’m satisfied of that,” Brazier said.
In throwing her support behind Tate, Brazier said Foreman is “very aloof” and represents party fat cats, rather than its grassroots members.
“It’s time for the party to define who we are - we must be a party that fights for people who are losing their homes and property and jobs, the folks who are being hurt by taxes and regulations and litigation. We can’t be the party of ritzy, rich, highbred, Harvard trial attorneys,” she said.
Tate, who has been vacationing with his family in Mexico since losing his bid for a second congressional term, did not return calls to his home and office.
He has not announced a bid for the chairmanship, but in a letter to party leaders said he is honored to be mentioned and “also interested. … I know I would enjoy being chairman and I believe I have a lot to offer.”
Tate, 31, offers the enthusiasm of youth, experience in state and federal politics, and solid principles, Brazier said.
Foreman, meanwhile, has been actively campaigning for the post and has told potential backers he’d be willing to forgo a race for U.S. Senate in 1998 so people won’t think he’s using the chairmanship as a stepping stone.
“I don’t want to seem overconfident, but I think I have a very good chance of being elected,” he said of the party post.
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