Susan Hutchison, a former TV news anchor who was elected state Republican Party chair in 2013, will step down from the party post Feb. 5.
The Washington State Republican Party will be under new management headed into the 2018 midterm elections.
Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO TV anchor who has chaired the state party since 2013, announced Tuesday she’ll resign her position effective Feb. 5.
She gave no specific reason for her departure apart from declaring it a good time for a transition, with the state GOP organization in a solid financial position.
“The biggest reason is timing. The party is so healthy right now,” she said, adding that she’d served longer than other recent state GOP chairs.
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Hutchison has been floated as a possible candidate for an ambassadorship or other appointment in the administration of President Donald Trump. In an interview, she declined to say whether or not she was under consideration.
“As I have said many times before, I would be honored to serve,” she said.
Her announcement came a little more than a month after Republicans lost their majority in the state Senate. In 2016, Washington Republicans also continued their record-long losing streak in gubernatorial elections stretching back more than three decades.
The party has yet to field a candidate to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s expected bid for a fourth term this year, and could face a tough battle to hang on to the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring Rep. U.S. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
Nevertheless, Hutchison said she feels “very positive about 2018,” expressing confidence in Dino Rossi’s prospect in the 8th and suggesting Republicans could take a majority in the state House, ending the tenure of House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. She pointed to races in Pierce County and the Olympic Peninsula as possible GOP pickups.
“There is no question there is a lot of room for growth for the Republicans in this state,” she said.
Some other state Republican leaders praised Hutchison’s leadership.
“Susan took us from being completely broke to being a healthy robust state party. I cannot say enough good things about her,” said Fredi Simpson, a longtime GOP activist and Republican National Committeewoman from Wenatchee.
King County Republican Party Chair Lori Sotelo also called Hutchison’s leadership strong and said she was surprised by her resignation.
In a state where Trump received just 38 percent of the presidential vote, Hutchison has fiercely defended the president — even from attacks by fellow Republicans.
Hutchison made national news in 2016 for accosting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, calling him a “traitor” for failing to endorse Trump during a floor speech.
She came under fire in October after news broke about Trump’s infamous lewd comments in a leaked 2005 Access Hollywood tape, in which he boasted about groping women. While Hutchison called the comments “repulsive,” she also seemed to try to rationalize them by saying Trump had been “a Democrat at the time.”
On Tuesday, Hutchison praised Trump in her resignation announcement. “I never doubt the voters’ wisdom — it’s the core of democracy,” she said. “President Trump has made good on his promises in 2017 and I look forward to what 2018 will bring.”
Asked about Trump’s escalating Twitter riffs attacking federal law enforcement and calling for arrests of political opponents, Hutchison, as she has previously, would only say the president “has a unique style of communication we have never seen before” but that she had “no comment on it.”
The election for a new state GOP leader will take place Jan. 20 in Moses Lake, with the new chair starting work the next month.
Despite her decision to leave her current position, Hutchison said she’s not abandoning the political scene.
“I will always be involved in politics. It’s not like I am leaving politics, I love politics,” she said.