In the wreckage of the Donald Trump presidency, which ends Wednesday, one of the big questions is whether local Republicans will pause to reflect on how and why it all went so wrong.
And we already got an answer: Nope. No, they won’t.
Instead, local party officials are going more all-in for Trump as the future beating heart of the state GOP — even if it means tearing down their few remaining major elected leaders here to do it.
Over the weekend, the state GOP central committee met up in Arlington and passed a resolution that essentially censures two out of the three Republican members of Congress in the state because they voted to impeach Trump over the Capitol riot.
“Whereas Democrats and some Republicans, with particular disappointment in Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Congressman Dan Newhouse, voted to impeach President Trump … the Washington State Republican Party condemns without question or exception the actions taken … in the impeachment,” the resolution reads.
The resolution expressed anger that “the multiple serious concerns of millions of Americans regarding the election of 2020 were ignored by both the offending states and Congress” (though those concerns were not ignored, they were debunked). It decried the impeachment as “nothing more than a political spectacle,” and nowhere found any smidgen of fault with Trump himself.
This resolution passed among the GOP committee members by … 111 to 2. Meaning the party apparatus isn’t interested in reckoning with the misinformation and governance disasters of the end of the Trump era, but in doubling down on them.
(Also: A photo of this meeting, posted at the Lynnwood Times, pictures about 70 GOP committee members crammed together with nary a mask in sight —showing again how vote fraud conspiracies and COVID-19 denial seem to thrive in the same spaces.)
It gets worse from there. The new chairperson of the King County Republicans, Joshua Freed, then accused Herrera Beutler and Newhouse of “letting themselves be weaponized” by liberals “in opposition to their own oath.”
The Clark County GOP, in Herrera Beutler’s 3rd Congressional district, said her vote was “shameful behavior” that “directly violates our values of standing for truth and justice.” Another group, the Clark County Republican Women, called for a primary challenge to Herrera Beutler and added: “You will never receive our support or votes again at any time in the future.”
Back in King County, Freed then lit out after the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, a local GOP group that had praised Herrera Beutler and Newhouse for taking a country-over-party stand. He called on them to “disband immediately, or remove the name Republican from their name.” State Sen. Doug Ericksen piled on, calling them the “Vichy GOP,” after the Nazi puppet government in World War II.
On this group’s advisory board, though, is Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who happens to be our state’s sole remaining Republican who has been elected statewide.
So there you go: Instead of reckoning with Trumpism, the party has decided to wage a scorched-earth campaign against three out of its four most successful remaining elected officials, in a blue state no less. Some said Trump’s loss could prompt a civil war, and here it is — inside their own party.
Meanwhile, Wyman went on KIRO radio on Monday and said that her state elections director is still holed up in hiding due to death threats. This is two and half months after our state election, in which no problems were documented.
I see that Republican party groups in other states are also going after politicians who dared cross the Mad King, rather than doing the tougher, self-reflective work of reckoning with how Trump’s undermining of democracy has left the party in shambles (he’s the first to lose the presidency, the House and the Senate since 1932). In Wyoming and earlier in Texas, the state GOP heads have suggested full-on secession.
The Republican Party may be breaking apart before our eyes. Maybe because I live in Seattle, I was expecting the Democrats might be the first to fracture, with their extreme fault lines between rising socialists and older moderates. But winning elections, for the moment, has papered over some of the Democrats’ seismic differences.
Losing has brought it all out in the open for the GOP.
In Olympia, they finally got rid of Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who quit after years of plotting to split off Eastern Washington to form a gun-toting, Trumpist utopia called “Liberty.”
So what was one of the first bills introduced this week by the new guy in Shea’s seat, state Rep. Rob Chase, R-QAnon? You guessed it: To split off Eastern Washington to form the Trumpist utopia of “Liberty.”
“Like my hero Donald Trump, I am a fighter too,” Chase fawned last year in a valentine he wrote titled “I am a Trump Republican.”
Maybe they should split up the Republican Party. People like Kim Wyman and Jaime Herrera Beutler definitely deserve better than this.