Vance to seek second term as state GOP chairman


King County Journal News Services and Staff

Olympia, WA - Chris Vance, a scrappy political junkie and former legislator who's the state Republican Party's top attack dog says he'll seek another term as GOP chairman despite fellow party members who feel he's too liberal.

Vance, 42, said this week that the party's gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi, has asked him to stay on as chairman. Although his election is in doubt, Rossi is informally the titular head of the party and has the right to request his choice for chairman, Vance said.

``Dino has asked me to run again as state party chairman and I intend to do that,'' Vance told The Associated Press.

Vance, who grew up in Bellevue and now lives in Auburn with his wife, Annmarie, and two children, has been one of Rossi's foremost advocates and has been a very visible public spokesman during the eight-week recount battle since election day.

He was doing those duties again this week, with a news conference and a round of interviews and talk show appearances to lay the groundwork for a possible legal challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's victory last week in a manual recount.

``Democrats are breaking every rule of politics and by doing this, Christine Gregoire has forfeited any chance she had to be considered legitimate if she were to win,'' he said earlier.

Vance, who represented the Kent and Auburn areas in the state House and later on the King County Council, also ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the state school superintendency. More recently, he has been mentioned for the 2006 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

Vance said that's a decision for another day.

``The political world is in enough flux to even think about that,'' he said.

Vance is doing his bit to keep it that way. He is just possibly the most quotable man in Washington state, recently beating out even Tim Eyman.

Earlier this month Vance said of actions by King County's elections department: ``It's either incompetence or fraud.'' By the end of that week he was leaning strongly toward fraud.

But even Vance has been worn down by the never-ending election.

``We will fight like hell for Dino, but there is not anything ennobling or good about this,'' he said. ``This is horrible. It's a political street brawl.''

Rossi endorsed Vance at the party's executive board earlier this month. The election is Jan. 29 in Tukwila. The term is for two years.

Vance acknowledged that he has some critics in the party, including activists calling themselves Reagan Wing Republicans. The group says Vance and a ``liberal elite'' have run the party and have strayed from core party principles.

Potential challengers are Sharon Bumala of Battle Ground, Rose Strong of the Seattle area and Mark Hulst of Mount Vernon.

Vance said the critics are a small minority of the party grass roots, and typically are backers of unsuccessful Senate candidate Reed Davis. Vance infuriated Davis and his backers by barring him from the rostrum at the state Republican Convention this year when Davis refused to sign the so-called ``11th Commandment'' not to criticize fellow Republicans.

Vance openly recruited and backed Rep. George Nethercutt for the Senate nomination, much as he backed Rossi for governor and tried to fend off primaries battles.

Vance is a conservative, but has said GOP nominees in the more moderate or liberal districts need to address local concerns and use themes that resonate with unaffiliated voters.

He uses the phrase ``Suburban Crescent'' to describe the key battleground in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. He said GOP candidates need to learn to speak ``cul-de-sac.''

On his watch, Republicans lost control of the state Senate and failed to oust Sen. Patty Murray or to carry the state for President Bush. But the GOP won the open attorney general's race, came very close in the governor's contest, and won both competitive congressional races. Both of the Republican statewide officials, the secretary of state and land commission, were re-elected.

Vance has a political science degree from Western Washington University.

© 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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