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Republicans rumble at state party convention in Spokane

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(The Center Square) – The Washington State Republican Party 2024 Convention saw delegates getting rowdy Friday inside the Spokane Convention Center as the morning session stretched into the scheduled lunch break.

Angry supporters of gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird objected to the Candidate Committee’s report initially withdrawing the governor’s race from the endorsement process due to what was described as “late breaking information that violated the vetting standards” regarding Bird.

The report of the Candidate Committee was amended to include the governor’s race and was adopted by the body and delegates, who were then released to breakout sessions by congressional delegation, but not before a fair amount of drama played out.

Lisa Evans, vice chair of the Washington State Republican Party, gave the Candidate Committee report as she was repeatedly interrupted by the crowd, while Chair Jim Walsh called for decorum. Evans explained the committee had voted to remove the governor’s race from the endorsement ballot in the interest of being fair to both candidates. Dave Reichert is also running for governor as a Republican.

A distraught delegate took the microphone saying people came a long way at their own expense to vote for Semi Bird. An amendment to add the governor’s race back to the process was made.

Before getting to a vote to adopt the report with the amendment, a request to make public the negative information behind the decision of the Candidate Committee was ruled immaterial by Walsh, a ruling that was immediately challenged by a delegate who wanted to hear the reasons behind the report.

The most recent disclosures regarding Bird have centered on a bank fraud charge from 1991. Bird has admitted pleading guilty in 1993 to using his father’s name and Social Security number to obtain a bank loan on a fraudulent basis.

While the delegations were in the process of a county-by-county tally on overruling the chair’s decision, another delegate came to the microphone to read a statement from Reichert, saying it was just posted on his campaign’s Facebook page. Reichert’s statement referenced the endorsement process as in disarray and said: “I’m withdrawing my name for consideration for the gubernatorial endorsement through this convention process. I am still seeking the endorsement of Republicans statewide and reconfirm my intention to fight for the state as a Republican all the way to November.”

Paul Hess, chair of the Rules Committee, had earlier told delegates “in 135 years, there has never been a pre-primary endorsement process and you are making history.”

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