Washington GOP Endorses Semi Bird for Governor Despite Past Legal Issues

The Washington State GOP endorsed a controversial candidate, Semi Bird, for governor, despite opposition from party officials. This highlights the growing influence of Trump supporters and raises questions about the party's unity and electability.

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Nimrah Khatoon
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Washington GOP Endorses Semi Bird for Governor Despite Past Legal Issues

Washington GOP Endorses Semi Bird for Governor Despite Past Legal Issues

The Washington State Republican Party Convention in Spokane endorsed Semi Bird as their gubernatorial candidate for the 2024 election, despite his past legal issues and opposition from some party officials. Bird, a military veteran and former Richland School Board member, received 72% of the votes cast by the roughly 1,800 delegates at the convention dominated by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The endorsement process was marked by conflict and surprise, with party leaders initially announcing they would not endorse a candidate for governor, leading to an angry reaction from Bird's supporters. The delegate body ultimately overturned the decision and voted to put the governor's race on the ballot. Bird acknowledged his past misdemeanor conviction for lying on a credit card application in 1993, but said he takes full accountability for his actions.

Candidate Dave Reichert withdrew his name from consideration for the party's endorsement, describing the convention as "unorganized, deceitful and deceptive." Reichert alleged that party officials misled him and other delegates about Bird's background. Despite assurances that Bird would be disqualified, Reichert was stunned to learn that Bird would still receive the key endorsement.

Bird, the first Black gubernatorial candidate endorsed by the Washington State Republican Party, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Reichert's comments, and does not believe the state Republican Party is in "disarray." The endorsement gives Bird publicity and momentum, but Reichert plans to continue his campaign in the primary, with some delegates acknowledging the need for a candidate who can win in the general election.

Why this matters: The Washington State Republican Party's endorsement of Semi Bird highlights the growing influence of Trump supporters within the party and the tensions it has created. The controversy surrounding Bird's past legal issues and the chaotic nature of the convention raises questions about the party's unity and electability in an increasingly Democratic state.

The convention also saw a chilly reception for former congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is running for commissioner of public lands, as some delegates booed and turned their backs on her due to her vote to impeach former president Donald Trump. Republican State Chairman Jim Walsh acknowledged the convention was "unscripted and unpredictable," with delegates in charge of setting the rules. The endorsement process has been criticized by some as a "demolition derby" rather than a coherent party meeting.

Key Takeaways

  • WA GOP endorsed Semi Bird as 2024 gubernatorial candidate despite past legal issues.
  • Endorsement process marked by conflict, with party initially refusing to endorse.
  • Candidate Dave Reichert withdrew, calling convention "unorganized, deceitful and deceptive".
  • Bird is the first Black GOP gubernatorial candidate endorsed in WA, but faces doubts.
  • Convention saw chilly reception for Jaime Herrera Beutler due to Trump impeachment vote.