OLYMPIA – As a contentious election year dawns for control of Congress and the Legislature, Washington State Republican Chairman Susan Hutchison said Tuesday she will step down in a month.
Hutchison, first elected to the state GOP spot in late 2012, said she will leave on Feb. 4, about two weeks after the party’s governing board has a chance to hold its winter meeting on Jan.y 20 and select a replacement.
A former Seattle television news anchor, Hutchison was elected to lead the state party in August 2013 about six months after Republicans gained control of the state Senate by forming a coalition with two conservative Democrats. Republicans were down 12 seats in the state House of Representatives. She prefers the title of chairman.
The coalition held control of the Senate through 2017, but gives up control in this year because November’s special elections gave Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate even without conservative Democrat Tim Sheldon’s vote.
Since 2013, the Democratic majority in the House has been whittled to just two votes.
Hutchison’s statement didn’t provide a reason for her decision to leave a position that would run through the end of 2018. A request for comment from the party was not immediately returned.
Last month she was mentioned as a possible ambassador to Hungary by Hungarian news outlets but Hutchison would only say she is working with President Trump for a possible undisclosed job.
Throughout her tenure, Republicans have held four of the state’s congressional seats in the face of significant Democratic challenges in the 8th District, which covers much of suburban King County east of Seattle. But Republicans have not been able to shake Democrats out of the other six House seats, and Hutchison’s pledge to turn Washington into a “purple state” that would have a majority of voters selecting Donald Trump did not materialize.
In a press release announcing her departure, Hutchison said the party was “demoralized and broke”. She said she’s leaving it in a “robust financial position.”
Contributions to the state party’s two main campaign committees dropped significantly in 2013 from the previous year, which featured a presidential election. They increased for several years, although the total of $4 million raised in 2016 was still lower than the $5.2 in 2012, Public Disclosure Commission records indicate.
Last year the party raised $1.2 million as it tried unsuccessfully to keep Democrats from picking up a Republican Senate seat.