2024 WAGOP State Convention Report

2024 WAGOP State Convention Report

As advertised, the WAGOP State Convention was one for the ages, as about 2,000 delegates, guests, and volunteers gathered to help endorse 2024 State and Federal Candidates April 18 - 20 in Spokane at the Convention Center.

Thursday evening, the WAGOP State Committee re-elected incumbent Marlene Pfeifer (Kittitas County GOP Chair) as RNC National Committeewoman and Matthew Patrick Thomas (King County Chair) as RNC National Committeeman to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seat by outgoing National Committeeman Jeff Kent.

Friday morning, the massive turnout overwhelmed check-in security, delaying the convention by over an hour with long lines of people wrapping around the convention center building. This, in turn, delayed the Credentials Committee report, which delayed and changed the morning agenda, allowing many of the statewide candidates to give their speeches.

This included the candidates for US Senate, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Public Lands, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and State Auditor.

OF NOTE: Public Lands Commissioner Candidate Jaime Herrera Beutler (who voted to impeach Donald Trump while she was a Congresswoman in Jan 2021) was loudly booed, and hundreds of delegates stood and turned their backs to her in protest as she attempted to give her speech.

OF IMPORTANCE: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Candidate David Spring explained why he did not sign the WAGOP ‘Candidate Pledge.’ The partisan pledge gave candidates the option to support other ‘Republican’ candidates in the race if they were not endorsed, and requires candidates to state they are a Republican. The problem being is that OSPI is a ‘Nonpartisan’ race. This violates RCW 29.52.231, and Spring did not want to break state law. All the other OSPI candidates signed the pledge.

Additionally, Spring was frustrated as, unlike the other OSPI candidates, he was not given access to the list of the convention delegates until Thursday, which delayed his announcement to the voting constituents until after midnight (early Friday morning via email), hurting Spring’s chances for endorsement.

However, it was even worse for Secretary of State candidate and State Senator Phil Fortunato, as unlike the other SoS candidates, he NEVER received access to the list of convention delegates to get his message out! Making matters worse, the Candidate Committee report that went out to all the delegates stated that Fortunato’s campaign had not raised any money in the race. In reality, his campaign had raised $29,400 in the last week. The provided WAGOP Committee report was from April 12th and was not updated for the Convention. This could have easily cost him the endorsement for SoS.

It is unfortunate that Senator Fortunato signed a pledge agreement in good faith, with reasonable expectations of fairness, and it was not reciprocated!

After the Credentials and Rules and Order of Business Committee Reports were adopted, the Chair of the Candidate Committee, Lisa Evans, announced that gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird failed to pass the WAGOP Candidate committee vetting (due to a misdemeanor over 30 years ago).

The problem was that Bird failed to disclose this on the required paperwork submitted to the committee. Evans said committee members decided “out of respect” for delegates and the process the best move would be not to endorse anyone for governor at the convention. “What this does allow for is for you to vote for the candidate of your choice in the primary,” she said, setting off loud boos, shouts, and chants of “USA” from Bird’s supporters among the record-setting 1,830 + convention delegates.


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