A MOVEMENT IS HATCHED
Employing a strategy analogous to Custer’s at Little Big Horn, the hard-line ideology that permeated the ’64 National GOP Convention forced ruin in the General Election for Republicans throughout the country and in Washington State. Washington’s representation in the U.S. House plunged from six Republicans and one Democrat to two Republicans and five Democrats. In the state House, Republican numbers dropped from 47 to 39 of 99 and the numbers in the state Senate fell to 17. We pachyderms suffered equal devastation throughout the nation.
A small group of Harvard student upstarts, including Chris Bayley and Bruce Chapman, chronicled that fiasco and postulated some solutions in a book entitled From Disaster to Distinction: The Rebirth of the Republican Party. They concluded that, “Responsible Republicans must articulate a vital moderate philosophy, they must participate more actively in Republican politics, and they must achieve a long-term plan of moderate Republican action.”
Out here in the other Washington, a Phoenix somehow arose from the ashes and offered some remedies of his own. In September 1965, Washington’s youthful Gov. Daniel J. Evans gave a sizzling, hardball speech to the Republican State Committee in Port Angeles. Calling for dissociation of the GOP from the John Birch Society and the alike, the governor said, “The Republican Party has the capacity, the intellectual fiber, and the political courage to tread new paths; to chart new courses in devising a plan for citizens to live within, and to live with their government.” As Washington GOP’s top elected official, Evans set the young generation, i.e. the “baby boomers,” as the Party’s hope for the future.
THE EARLY YEARS
Eager to capitalize on this focus, and the resources made available, Washington State’s young Republican leaders made their move. The Young Republican Federation, the College Republican League, Choose an Effective City Council of Seattle (CHECC), and other organizations plunged into the fray.
In 1968, Chris Bayley with the Ripon Society, CHECC, and the Young Republicans of King County, and Sam Reed with the College League , Washington Young Republican Federation, joined forces to create Action for Washington (AFW). A nineteen-year-old Whitman College YR, Jim Waldo; a UW lettuce boycotter, Don MacKinnon; a Spokane Community College YR; and a few Harvard whiz kids, including Dale Foreman (former state representative and state party chairman), worked as fulltime staff for AFW in the 1968 campaigns. Others who came into positions of AFW leadership included Stuart Elway, John Giese, Steve Excell, Glenn Pascall, Gary Smith, Rene Remund, Tim Clancy, Dick Rolfs, Glen Hudson, Cindi Phelps and Anne Ward. After amazingly mobilizing approximately 2,500 young people for the Action Team, AFW was credited with making the difference in Slade Gorton’s narrow victory for Attorney General, almost electing Art Fletcher Lt. Governor (which would have been the political upset of the century), helping Lud Kramer win reelection, and making a significant difference in Dan Evans’ victory.
To capitalize on the success of the AFW movement, Bayley and Reed looked to the future by calling a conference in 1969. The first conference, now called the Cascade Conference, (see below for a complete list of conferences, locations and organizers) was held on Discovery Bay. The invitation explained, “The purpose of the conference will be to share ideas, establish rapport, and to simply get acquainted.” It worked. Around forty young, moderate Republican leaders gathered and held lively discussions about state and local issues.
Cascade Conference III, held in 1973, was one of the best with approximately 140 people from throughout the state meeting up at the Snoqualmie Summit Lodge to be inspired, stimulated and challenged. Cascade Conference IV was held late summer of 1974 at the Crystal Mountain Lodge. Coming right in the middle of campaign season in a very difficult year, it focused almost entirely on campaigning. And being the year of Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, and Ford’s pardon, the atmosphere was somewhat grimâ€¦ Despite it all, AFW claimed remarkable success targeting a dozen tough legislative races and winning eight â€“ including such notables as Rod Chandler, Sue Gould and Jim Whiteside.
With the so-called “conservative Christian” faction taking over the ’86 State Republican Convention and rubbing it in the noses of moderates, a Cascade Conference “special dinner meeting” was called by Louise Miller and Katie Allen. The invitation started: “It is time to fight back. We are a loosely affiliated group of moderate Republicans, best known for our ‘Cascade Conferences,’ dedicated to preserving our party’s ideals and not allowing it to be co-opted by special interest groups.” The featured speaker was former state GOP Chairman Gummie Johnson and the dinner meeting was a big success and helped to result in successful precinct officer efforts to control some county party organizations.
THE BIRTH AND EVOLUTION OF THE ORGANIZATION
In 1988, the Washington State nomination of Presidential candidate Pat Robertson inspired further organization amongst moderate Republicans. The 1990 Cascade Conference, primarily organized by Sam Reed and Doug Sutherland, focused on just that. Lt. Governor Joel Pritchard played an integral role at the conference by leading organizational discussions and debates about the mission, values, goals and formal name of the emerging organization, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington (MRW). The central goals of MRW were two-fold: Elect Republicans, from the courthouse to the White House, who adhere to mainstream Republican principles; and keep people in the Republican Party by providing a moderate Republican alternative with which to identify.
The group consisted of Republican activists and elected officials committed to party unity in an effort to regain Republican dominance in Washington. Reed, Sutherland, state Representative Louise Miller and businessman Tom Ranken served throughout the first few years chairing the new organization. The Cascade Conference began to be held every year to focus on mainstream issues, gather people from throughout the state to maintain valuable relationships, and help elect Republicans to office.
In 1990, the MRW also became an official Political Action Committee (PAC). Throughout the years, the organization has continued to make it a priority to financially support, recruit, endorse and assist viable Republican candidates.
CHALLENGES TO THE FLEDGLING ORGANIZATION
The first true test of the MRW came as a result of the hard-line wing of the party taking over the 1992 Republican State Convention. Reed, then chair of the MRW, subsequently organized a meeting with the state Christian Coalition Chairman and their respective boards to initiate trusting, open and honest discussions about the state Republican platform. From this meeting, an agreement was reached on a platform and later presented to then state Republican Chairman Ken Eikenberry. The compromise platform was approved on a state level at the 1994 state convention.
GROWTH AND SUCCESS OF MRW
The early 90s experienced a proliferation of local mainstream groups throughout the state, beginning in Thurston County. Groups in Benton/Franklin, Chelan/Douglas, Yakima, Skagit, Pierce and informal groups in Spokane and Snohomish have followed.
During the 1992 election, all but one Republican running for statewide office was Mainstream Republican.
MRW’s by-laws were written by Glenn Anderson, now 5th District Representative, and Joan Kraft and adopted in 1994. At that time, the organization’s newsletter was stepped up from a photocopy to glossy publication and mailed to more than 3,500 households four times a year, and in 1995, MRW launched its first website.
We certainly have come a long way since the Custer massacre of ’64. Our organization continues to attract those who wish to join together in our common cause of seeking political distinction via a moderate philosophy while demonstrating the “capacity, the intellectual fiber, and the political courage to tread new paths” that Gov. Evans called for more than three decades ago.
Today, three Republicans have been elected to statewide office, all of which are Mainstreamers: Sam Reed, Doug Sutherland, and Rob McKenna.
CASCADE CONFERENCE HISTORY
1971 Chevy Chase Inn, Discovery Bay, Conference Chair Sam Reed
1973 Snoqualmie Summit Lodge, Conference Chair Sam Reed
1974 Crystal Mountain Lodge, Conference Chair Sam Reed
1980 White Pass Lodge, Conference Chair Sam Reed
1981 White Pass Lodge, Conference Co-Chairs Sam Reed & Scott Horner
1982 Fort Warden, Conference Co-Chairs Sam Reed & Stuart Elway
1983 St. Thomas Conference Center, Conference Co-Chairs Louise Miller & Katie Allen
1986 Renton Holiday Inn, Conference Co-Chairs Louise Miller, Katie Allen & Jim Lewis
1990 – 1993 Snoqualmie Summit Lodge, Conference Co-Chairs Louise Miller, Tom Ranken & Sam Reed
1995 Enzian, Leavenworth, Chairman Mark Gardner, Conference Chair Joan Kraft
1996 Sheraton, Tacoma, Chairman Mark Gardner, Conference Chair Lorna Moore
1997 Campbell’s, Chelan, Chairman Doug Sutherland, Conference Chair Joan Kraft
1998 Shilo, Richland, Chairman Doug Sutherland, Conference Chair Joan Kraft
1999 Red Lion, Wenatchee, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Bev Woods
2000 Bellevue, Doubletree, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Bev Woods
2001 Enzian, Leavenworth, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Joyce Horn
2002 Shilo, Richland, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Joan Kraft
2003 Campbell’s, Chelan, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Louise Miller
2004 Enzian, Leavenworth, Chairman Phil Robins, Conference Chair Louise Miller
2005 Shilo Inn, Richland, Chairman Sid Morrison, Conference Chair Louise Miller
2006 SeaTac Double Tree, Chairman Sid Morrison, Conference Chair Sam Reed & Coordinator Louise Miller
2007 Wenatchee Red Lion, Chairman Sid Morrison, Conference Chair Ken Mortland
2008 Inn at Gig Harbor, Chairman Sid Morrison, Conference Chair Ken Mortland
2009 Shilo, Richland, Chairman Sid Morrison, Conference Chair Ken Mortland
2010 Holiday Inn, SeaTac, Conference Chair Sam Reed
2011 Best Western Icicle Inn, Leavenworth, Conference Chair Janette Maza
2012 Holiday Inn, SeaTac, Conference Chair Gretchen Borck
Initiated at the 1995 Conference by Chairman Mark Gardner as recognition of Sam Reed’s many years of dedication and loyalty to Mainstream Republicans.
1995 Sam Reed
1997 Joel Pritchard
The name of the “Sammy” award was changed to the Pritchard Award as recognition of Joel Pritchard’s loyalty, contribution and inspiration to Mainstream Republicans.
1999: Ralph Munro
2000: Louise Miller
2002: Dan Evans
2003: Sid Morrison
2004: Phil Robins
2005: Doug Sutherland
2006: Joan Kraft
2007: Jim Waldo
2008: Ella Childers
2009: Peggy Pritchard Olsen
2010: Slade Gorton
2011: Attorney General Rob McKenna & Mainstream Board Member Ken Mortland
2012: Secretary of State Sam Reed
MARYANN MITCHELL AWARD
Initiated in 2003 by the Board of Directors in memory of Representative Maryann Mitchell to recognize outstanding Mainstream leadership. Nominees shall be active state legislators who have run for office as Mainstream candidates, and have demonstrated their support for Mainstream principles throughout their legislative careers. They will have ascended to leadership positions in the Republican caucus as an indication that they have been judged favorably by their peers, and have served with distinction.
2003: Representative Beverly Woods & Senator Jim Horn
2004: Senator Pat Hale
2005: Representative Shirley Hankins
2006: Senator Bill Finkbeiner
2007: Representative Gary Alexander
2008: Representative Skip Priest
2009: Senator Linda Evans-Parlette
2010: Senator Dale Brandland
2011: State Representative Maureen Walsh
2012: State Representative Bill Hinkle
NORM MALENG AWARD
Initiated in 2008 following the death of long-time King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng who was a Mainstream Board member and loyal supporter.
Nominees shall be outstanding leaders in local government who best represent the integrity, effectiveness and high standards established by Norm Maleng.
2008: Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney
2009: Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman
2010: Bill Bryant, Seattle Port Commissioner President
2011: King County Council Member Reagan Dunn
2012: Anthony Hemstead & Ed Sterner