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WAGOP Chairman’s end of 2023 letter

Fellow Washington Republicans,

As the New Year quickly approaches, I want to offer a few reflections on the year that’s ending while looking forward to what lies ahead in 2024 for the WAGOP.

Here’s what we accomplished in 2023:

  • At our State Committee meeting in August, WAGOP moved in a new direction—more outwardly focused, more active in taking control of media narratives and more determined to reach Washington voters fed up with crime and chaos and rising prices.
  • Very quickly, we launched a project to test our best ideas about winning campaign strategies and tactics. WAGOP worked with 36 conservative school board candidates, from around the state, to help support their campaigns. 32 of those 36 candidates were elected in November!
  • While we were helping those conservative school board candidates win, we worked with several partner organizations to develop a coordinated ballot-collection program—yes, “ballot harvesting”—to make sure that Republican voters vote. We used this program in targeted locations last November. And it worked.
  • We drew public attention to shady, non-compliant practices by King County Elections and the WA Secretary of State in a way that legitimized our questions about election integrity in this state. Even The Seattle Times editorial board grudgingly admitted that our questions are legit.
  • We’ve started a monthly series of “deep dive” policy discussion that explain in plain English but technical detail what WAGOP stands FOR. Restoring excellence in our K-12 public schools. Taking practical action to fight crime and rebuild safe neighborhoods. Get homeless people off the streets, instead of just talking about “homelessness” and wasting taxpayers’ money.
  • We’ve secured and increased our fundraising efforts at all levels—grassroots, membership and major donors. This was most evident at our very successful Fall Fundraising Dinner, which saw a record crowd come out and contribute.
  • We’ve developed in-house resources to build and expand boots-on-the-ground campaign infrastructure—and people—at the county and legislative-district committee levels. This includes a new Director of Development and Support, dedicated to helping county parties and legislative districts.
  • WAGOP continues to receive recognition and support from the Republican National Committee. This is proven by WAGOP’s success in the RNC’s GROW Program and by strong relationships with the U.S. Senate and Congress campaign committees in D.C.
  • WAGOP’s media presence has grown dramatically, both in traditional media and on social media. We’ve taken the space in MSM to re-define narratives on election integrity, repealing Inslee’s disastrous cap-and-trade tax scheme, tell the truth about crime rates in Washington and push back against lies about K-12 school performance and failed “Housing First” policies.
  • We’ve stepped into a leadership position among our partners in the legislature, business community and religious communities—building data resources and organizing the first polling efforts, looking forward to the next several election cycles.
  • WAGOP, working with the Let’s Go WA and Restore WA organizations, qualified all Six Initiatives to Fix What’s Broken in Washington. By wide margins. Those initiatives—which would repeal Inslee’s cap-and-trade tax scheme, restore reasonable police pursuits, codify parental notification rights in state law and reform state tax policy—have strong bipartisan support. They could swing many voters to WAGOP’s side next November.

That last item is especially important, as the Six Initiatives are likely to define politics in Washington throughout the year ahead.

The Six are Initiatives to the Legislature, which means they will be presented to Olympia for consideration in the upcoming “short session” before they go to the people for votes in November 2024. For the first time decades, the Democrat majorities in the state legislature—not accustomed to playing defense on policy—don’t know what to do.

  • Do they ignore the Six Initiatives, passing them on to the general election ballot in November—where they’re likely to motivate conservative voters and persuade independents?
  • Do they agree with some of the Six Initiatives, so they become law immediately and aren’t on the November ballot? If that, which ones?
  • Do they try to pass “alternatives” to the Six Initiatives, to confuse voters and possibly defend the broken status quo? Can they agree on what the “alternatives” would accomplish? Will the confusion scheme work?

The confused Democrats in the State House and Senate have looked to their masters in the executive branch for guidance and gotten nothing useful back. The current governor, a backbencher at heart, lacks any tactical political instincts or skills.

He’s selfishly concerned only about protecting his disastrous cap-and-trade triple tax scheme, which his advisers tell him is his “legacy.” The current state Attorney General, never a team player politically, is only concerned about his weak polling numbers in his bid to be the next governor. The current commissioner of public lands, secretary of state and schools superintendent aren’t leaders by nature and are embroiled in their own scandals and dramas.

So, the field is set for the WAGOP to have more wins in 2024. But none of this is guaranteed. We must work hard, put aside our minor differences, support each other and build our collective enthusiasm. That will translate into enthusiasm among Washington voters. And maximize our chances for success in 2024.

Specifically, here are WAGOP’s goals for 2024:

  • Successfully hold the local precinct caucuses on January 13. The main measure of success here is simple: Get good people elected as delegates to the county conventions. But there are other goals, too. Attract new people to WAGOP. Give them a forum. Encourage new and existing activists about WAGOP policies and candidates. Energize them to stay engaged through November. And beyond.
  • Support and coordinate county conventions that will take place at various times during the 12 weeks or so after the January caucuses. Again, the main metric for these conventions is to get good people elected as delegates to the State Convention. But, again, more will be happening. Delegates to the county conventions will be supporting certain candidates, promoting certain platform planks, pushing certain resolutions. As many as possible should be heard.
  • Leverage the Six Initiatives to define and control as much of the agenda during the “short session” in Olympia as possible. Republicans are still in the minority at the State Capitol. But the Six Initiatives will give us the chance to keep the Democrats in an unfamiliar defensive position. This may yield some opportunities for parliamentary and legislative wins.
  • Publicize and utilize the state’s U.S. Presidential Primary Election in March. Love it or hate it, the Presidential Primary will be a major opportunity to motivate and activate conservative voters in Washington. And it’s a big opportunity for WAGOP to gather critical voter data. Think of it as the biggest poll that happens all year.
  • Have a great WAGOP State Convention in Spokane, April 18-20. This will be a State Convention unlike any other in years. The delegates (2,500 are planned) will nominate and endorse Republican candidates for the nine statewide executive positions (Gov, Lt Gov, etc.), the 10 U.S. Congress positions and the one U.S. Senate position on the ballot in 2024.
  • Use our fundraising, data, media, and ground-game resources to support our nominated and endorsed candidates through the summer and fall. This will be where the real work comes in. We’ve learned from the last few cycles that TV ads alone don’t win elections. We need to be talking to WA voters by all means—including face-to-face.
  • Coordinate with our partners in the federal and state legislative caucuses to win seats in D.C. and Olympia. The Third Congressional District race is certain to draw major national attention. But the Sixth Congressional seat is open. And the Eighth Congressional remains winnable. In Olympia, we will try to focus more tightly on legislative races we will win—instead of overpromising and under-delivering.
  • Get as many of the Six Initiatives to the ballot in November—and then into law—as possible. All Six poll strongly, with bipartisan support. Democrats and left-wing activists know this and will be pouring tens of millions of dollars into nasty, negative media campaigns. (Silver lining: That’s money they won’t have to spend on statewide, congressional and legislative races!) We’ll have to fight hard to support what’s good.
  • Win targeted statewide executive positions. Washington will always be a tough arena for Republican candidates, but much favors us in 2024. WAGOP will support a complete slate of candidates—but will focus especially on the Governor, State Attorney General, Commissioner of Public Lands, Secretary of State and Superintendent of Schools races.

There’s so much more. But those are the main goals and points.

We will change what people in Washington—especially, people in Seattle—think about Republicans. We will promote policies and laws that unite people and make their lives better. We will support and empower common-sense conservative candidates with the tools and resources to get elected. And stay elected.

The crux of my New Year’s message to all of you, my friends, is this: We are positioned to win in 2024. Nothing in politics or life is ever guaranteed. But WAGOP is set to win elections, not make excuses, moving forward.

Happy New Year!


Jim Walsh
Washington State Republican Party