On Episode 55 of The Overcast, reporter Jim Brunner talks with Chris Vance about his decision to quit the Republican Party over revulsion with President Donald Trump and with GOP leaders who have stayed loyal to the president amid endless controversy.

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Polls show U.S. voters are as polarized as they’ve ever been. In the Democratic and Republican parties, most of the energy is with the extreme left and right wings — not the mushy middle.

Could that leave an opening for a new centrist political movement of disaffected moderates?

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Former state Republican Party chairman Chris Vance is betting on it.

On Episode 55 of The Overcast, Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner talks with Vance about his decision to finally quit the Republican Party last month over revulsion with President Donald Trump and with GOP leaders who have stayed loyal to the president amid endless controversy.

This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX as part of an ongoing partnership.

Also joining the discussion is Nick Troiano, executive director of The Centrist Project, a nonprofit that hopes to ignite a movement to elect sensible independent candidates by appealing to moderate voters fed up with the more extreme sides of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Vance and Troiano say the Centrist Project is looking to expand to Washington state — fielding independent candidates in key state legislative and congressional races in 2018.

Vance, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year as an anti-Trump Republican, argues for the inevitability of “a new political movement between the extremes of these two insane parties.” Troiano adds that even a few political independents elected to office could be a powerful force in closely divided legislatures.

But is that just wishful thinking? Brunner spars with Vance and Troiano over how many voters can get jazzed over middle-of-the-road politicians — and whether the Centrist Project has the resources and support to get any candidate elected in Washington state.

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