by Peter Jackson, Crosscut
As things fall apart, to bastardize W.B. Yeats, two veteran lawmakers hope to rekindle the vital center in American politics.
Chris Vance, a former Republican state party chair and King County Council member, and former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat, announced on Thursday the launch of Washington Independents, a political action committee designed to provide the financing, tools and political training for independent candidates in Washington.
During his 2016 run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Vance, once emblematic of the state’s Republican establishment, disavowed Donald Trump. For Vance, Trump’s election was a tectonic event. “The party changed, I didn’t change,” said Vance, who — after writing a number of pieces critical of the party in Crosscut and elsewhere — declared himself no longer a Republican in September.
Vance’s disavowal of Trump last year infuriated state Republican party chair Susan Hutchison and other conservative activists.
The independent effort has received $10,000 in seed funding from its national affiliate, the Centrist Project, along with a few thousand dollars from other donors, Vance said.
“The American people,” he said, “are hungry for an alternative to the status quo.”
After 12 years in Congress, Baird said, he had tired of the “extremes divided along more tribal lines and focused more on party power.”