They call it the Roanoke Conference, and the 2½-day event got under way Friday at the Ocean Shores Conference Center featuring Republicans from around Washington state and a few from outside. The goal: Find smart ways to rebuild the Republican Party.
And another goal: Win more elections than having only one Republican (Kim Wyman) in a statewide executive office (Washington secretary of state) along the West Coast from Washington to California?
Among those attending is Rob McKenna, who lost his bid for governor to Democrat Jay Inslee. McKenna is moderating a Sunday-morning panel on education.
In a panel on Saturday, recently retired Secretary of State Sam Reed argues in favor of awarding Electoral College votes based upon congressional-district outcomes as a way to boost the GOP’s shot at the presidency.
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Saturday night’s keynote speaker is Bob Herbold, a former chief operating officer for Microsoft whose wife, Pat Herbold, is a former ambassador to Singapore.
The Washington State Labor Council took shots at the event on Friday, drawing attention to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech to the Republican National Committee this week in Charlotte, N.C., where he exhorted them to “stop being the stupid party.’’
The Hill, a congressional newspaper, quoted Jindal as saying, “We must not be the party that simply protects the well-off so they can keep their toys. … We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive.”
Washington state Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur said Friday that he thinks Jindal is right about changing the way the GOP talks about issues.
Speaking from Charlotte, he said the party should frame its efforts around jobs and growth — not austerity, which he said was part of Jindal’s theme.
And, Wilbur said, it should drop what he regards as a negative or gloomy focus despite the slow economic recovery under President Obama.
“We need to break out of that and become the happy-warrior party, like Ronald Reagan and ‘morning in America,’ ’’ he said.
The conference agenda over the next few days includes a few breakout sessions. One is, “Taking On the Public Unions in a Blue State: How Do We Do It?” Participants include state Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, of Ritzville, Adams County, Kathy Lambert, of the Metropolitan King County Council, Jami Lund, of the Freedom Foundation, and freshman Rep. Matt Manweller, of Ellensburg.
There’s another one, moderated by state Rep. Hans Zeiger, of Puyallup, called: “Republicans are Good Stewards of the Environment: How Do We Let the Voters Know?”