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January 27, 2007

Tebelius out as GOP party chair

Posted by David Postman at 2:27 PM

State Republican Party Chairwoman Diane Tebelius was voted out this afternoon and replaced by former state Sen. Luke Esser. The vote of the state committee was 71-43.

Tebelius immediately left the meeting as a group of Esser's backers headed immediately to the party headquarters in an office building adjacent to the Tukwilla hotel where the vote took place.

Esser is presiding over the meeting and has not yet come out to talk to the press.

Tebelius, who yesterday said she'd be available for an interview no matter which way the vote went, said only:

"They made a decision and good for them. I'll support Luke."

Esser released this statement:

"The first step towards recovering from our defeat in 2006 is recognizing that we have a problem, and today we did that," said Esser. "Though we face difficult times I'm confident we will rebound. The Republican Party is overflowing with ideas for making Washington more prosperous and secure."

"The Democrats are using their majorities to restrict the initiative process and spend a massive 30 billion dollars on state government. They're governing way to the left of Washington voters."

Doug Parris of The Reagan Wing said that applause for the two candidates seemed pretty evenly split after their speeches. He said that Tebelius focused much of her speech on criticizing Gov. Chris Gregoire. Esser focused on Tebelius, and criticizing her financial management of the party.

Also: Doug Roulstone is here. He's the Republican who ran against Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens. He got 36 percent of the vote. But he's already running again. Roulstone said that he is not discouraged by his finish in November because of the national tide working against Republicans.

Roulstone said that the Republican candidates in the 1st, 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts have also said they will run again, too.

UPDATE: State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz was re-elected today in a meeting in Olympia. He had no opposition.

UPDATE: Esser just came out to talk for a minute. He said he was surprised by his margin of victory. "The late votes broke my way, which has not always been the case," said Esser, who lost his Senate seat to Republican-turned-Democrat Rodney Tom.

Esser said he focused on finances in his campaign because "we did not raise enough money to have a statewide get-out-the-vote effort." But there were more general issues, too, he said:

"It was a terrible year and people are looking for a way to make sure that never happens again."

Esser said he will meet with party staff Monday.

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