The Republicans’ 1996 candidate for governor, Ellen Craswell, is expected to bolt to the American Heritage Party on Wednesday.
Craswell said she will appear with Howard Phillips, founder and presidential standard-bearer of the parent organization, the U.S. Taxpayers Party, at a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol.
A legislative candidate from the Yakima area, Don Littlefield, also will take part in the event.
Craswell, titular head of the state GOP as the party’s last gubernatorial candidate, declined to directly confirm her plans, but told a reporter he could put two and two together.
“We’ve thought about it a lot,” she said of herself and her husband, longtime GOP activist Bruce Craswell. “It wasn’t a decision we made lightly.”
In an interview with The Associated Press about six weeks ago, the former Poulsbo state legislator all but confirmed her surprising move. Long a leader of the state’s religious conservatives and anti-abortion activists, she said critics are unhappy with the slow pace and low visibility their issues have had, even with Republicans controlling Congress and the state Legislature.
In the recent legislative session, lawmakers approved a ban on same-sex marriage, but two major abortion-related bills failed.
Craswell, 65, a former 16-year member of the Legislature who lost to Democrat Gary Locke in the 1996 governor’s race, said in the earlier interview that if she made a move, it would be to the U.S. Taxpayers Party’s state chapter.
The affiliate has organized as the American Heritage Party. State director Daniel Eby said he was leaving any announcements to Craswell, but said, “It’s something we have been working on for a long time.”
Eby said 10 counties are forming local chapters: Yakima, Clark, Chelan, Walla Walla, Columbia, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Stevens and Spokane. Columbia County Commissioner Don Jackson recently changed from Republican to American Heritage.
Craswell said in the earlier interview that the new party is “the one closest to where I am. It is very much there - right down the line. (They believe) what I ran on.”
The party was formed by Phillips, who was on the ballot in Washington and 39 other states as a presidential candidate in 1996. He drew 4,578 votes here, or .02 percent of the vote.