State Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur announced shortly after 5 p.m. Monday that he had resigned a few minutes earlier. The former talk-radio host who took over leadership of the party in 2011 said he is taking a job with the Young America’s Foundation, which tries to recruit college students into the conservative movement.
Luanne VanWerven, party vice chair, takes over as interim chair until an election is held.
Wilbur was first elected to his party post in January 2011 and was reelected to a new two-year term. Wilbur served as state chapter leader of Americans for Prosperity before beating Luke Esser for the state Republican Party job.
As chairman, Wilbur had no more luck than his many predecessors in winning the Governor’s Office or recapturing a U.S. Senate seat from Democrats. But he did see his party gain a few seats in the state House and Senate – including forging a Senate majority coalition this year with two GOP-leaning Democrats.
The state party put out a short press release that says only:
WSRP Chairman Kirby Wilbur Resigns, Effective Today
BELLEVUE, WA - Effective at 5:00 p.m. today, Monday, July 29, 2013, Chairman Kirby Wilbur resigned his post as leader of the Washington State Republican Party. Chairman Wilbur released the following statement on his announcement:
“I am resigning as the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, effective today at 5:00 p.m. I have been offered a five-year contract with the Young America’s Foundation that I would be foolish not to accept. I will be moving to the “other” Washington within the next couple of months to write this next chapter of my life.
“It has been an honor to serve as chairman of the WSRP since January 2011. We have had many successes and I have had some failures. The Party has a good crop of up-and-coming leaders, and a strong staff, and it will continue to move forward no matter whose hand is on the helm.”
Chairman Wilbur was elected to his first term in January 2011. Under his leadership, Washington elected the only statewide Republican official on the west coast in Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and picked up 1 seat in both the State Senate and the State House in 2012. In late 2012, early 2013, two Democrats joined with our Republican Senators to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, thus giving Republicans a majority in at least one chamber of the Legislature for the first time since 2004. Chairman Wilbur was reelected to a second term in January 2013.
Vice-Chair Luanne VanWerven will serve as interim chair of the WSRP. According to WSRP bylaws, the election of a permanent chair must take place within 90 days of today.