[The author of this post has expressed that he in no way, shape, or form intends it as a commentary on either newly elected WSRP Chair Susan Hutchison or former Vice (and former acting) Chair Luanne Van Werven. He further specifically disavows any claim, (inadvertently implied – or imaginatively imputed by adversaries) to being an attorney. ~~ Ed.]
“The state committee of each major political party consists of one committeeman and one committeewoman from each county elected by the county central committee at its organization meeting. It must have a chair and vice chair of opposite sexes. This committee shall meet during January of each odd-numbered year for the purpose of organization at a time and place designated by a notice mailed at least one week before the date of the meeting to all the newly elected state committeemen and committeewomen by the authorized officers of the retiring committee. At its organizational meeting it shall elect its chair and vice chair, and such officers as its bylaws may provide, and adopt bylaws, rules, and regulations.”
The WSRP State Committee has elected a new Chair to replace Kirby Wilbur, and of course, congratulations are in order! There does, however, appear to have been a slight oversight regarding state law. The WSRP now would seem to be in violation of the Revised Code of Washington, as the Chair and Vice Chair are of the same gender. This is, of course, a silly law, but it is still a law and as such, must be followed.
The last thing that the WSRP needs is this plastered all over the Seattle Times or the Stranger. Neither would a legal action from the state Attorney General be helpful. This may seem to be a stretch, but there might even be the possibility of the WSRP having their status as a “major party” revoked.
Hat Tip to Brian Landsberger, who asks, “Consider who runs elections. Answer [sic] the state. If a political party does not comply with the law then their candidates can be removed from “major political party” status. Anyone remember this debacle?”
I really want to be able to give the state committee the benefit of the doubt on this issue, but it’s just not warranted in this case. The state committee was apparently well aware of this not-so-minor issue. Olga Farnam, State Committeewoman from Snohomish County tells us in a comment on the Snohomish County Republican Party (unofficial) Facebook group page this problem was discussed at the committee meeting.
From Committeewoman Farnam:
“At the next meeting in January, propose a new bylaws amendment to add a second vice chair (male). This puts us in compliance and satisfies the RCW and bylaws. Many counties do this already for one specific reason: It avoids the drama that we’ve been through over the past three weeks. Because there are both male and female vice chairs, who runs for chair is of no consequence. When this was put before the body, it handily passed.”
And King County State Committeewoman Lisa Thwing, in a comment on that same FB group affirms this when she points out:
…we are in compliance with the whole of our bylaws, including the need to have proper notice before amending them, and proper notice before we call an election. If I am arrested, my defense in court is dependent on the whole of the law, not the portion of it I’m accused of breaking…. Legal counsel assured us that the actions we took were proper, and I, for one, have no intention of electing anyone without input from our PCOs, and without the opportunity to hear from candidates. And especially important to me….the opportunity for more people to declare their candidacy than existed in that room at that time. Can 107 people be wrong? Sure…it’s possible. But is it probable?
It may be that this maneuver will eventually bring the party into compliance with the RCW, but the fact remains that the WSRP is in actual, intentional and brazen violation right now. For the moment, let’s leave aside whether or not gender quotas have any rational basis in the sane world. It is, in fact, a law and it doesn’t violate either the Washington State or United States Constitutions. And if we believe in the rule of law, it should be followed.