The Republican reaction to the recent midterm elections in Washington state might be called philosophical, if the annual gathering of activists in Ocean Shores is a good indicator.
“There are no permanent victories or defeats when it comes to politics,” state Senate Republican Leader John Braun, Centralia, told Roanoke attendees in the banquet hall of the 29,000 square foot convention center.
His Republican counterpart in the state House, Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, Yelm, addressed the crowd Friday night as well.
“Almost half of the House Republicans are registered [at the conference],” Wilcox told the crowd. He called many of them out by name and they stood up to applause.
Wilcox’s call out for “Big Jim Walsh,” a representative from nearby Aberdeen, got the most applause.
State Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, gave an opening-night talk about where things stand and what needs to happen for Washington Republicans to improve their standing. They currently have substantial minorities in both state houses, are down to two representatives in Congress, and have been locked out of the governor’s office since 1985.
Muzzall admitted that he had been “hoping for something a little different,” but that there had been no “red wave” in the Evergreen State.
He called the conference “a celebration, but with a little bit of introspection.”
He said that it was vital that state Republicans talk “with people that we might not 100% agree with” to find “common ground.”
Muzzall was especially interested in reaching “disaffected Democrats,” who agree that the current leadership of their party is “dragging the state down the wrong path.”
To that end, he said that Roanoke this year would not be about “safe spaces” but rather it would host “tough conversations” about what Republicans might have to change in their pitch or their policies to put together a working majority “in two years.”
Panels advertised in the program include “The Elephant in the Room: We keep losing, so what do we do next?”; “Bringing the Parents’ Rights Movement to Washington”; and “How to Build Bridges Instead of Burning Them.”