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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 20, 2013 at 4:21 PM

State GOP chair Susan Hutchison cites ‘war on women’ in pay-raise spat

Susan Hutchison, the new chair of the state Republican party, gets a salary of about $75,000 a year — substantially less than the $95,000 earned by her predecessor, Kirby Wilbur.

But when Hutchison tried last weekend to convince the GOP executive committee to boost her pay to Wilbur’s level, the conversation turned ugly and Hutchison’s request was rebuffed.

Hutchison bemoaned the decision in an internal party memo obtained by The Seattle Times.

In the memo, sent Monday to the state GOP executive board, Hutchison wrote the “positive spirit” of the GOP meeting had “soured late in the day” when her salary request came up.

The pay for the Republican chairman’s position had been cut by GOP leaders — citing budget issues — at a meeting just prior to Hutchison’s election in August.

But Hutchison argued that vote had violated the party’s bylaws and could be viewed as “discriminatory and vindictive” — and even play into the hands of Democrats who have talked up the GOP’s problems among female voters.

“The pay cut defies the concept of equal pay for equal work, playing into the ‘war on women’ narrative against Republicans,” Hutchison wrote. She added she’d personally raised $22,000 from 18 non-Republican Party donors from her personal list of contacts — “which more than covers” the $20,000 pay raise.

“I left the meeting demoralized, and so did my hardworking staff. I heard that some of you felt beat up and angry, while others were very pleased. This kind of division over something so minor is not what will move us forward,” Hutchison wrote.

Despite the setback, Hutchison called the pay raise issue “minor” compared with the party’s task of electing Republicans to key state offices. “Since I declined nearly $11,000 in medical benefits, the true dispute involves less than $10k to the WSRP! That is not worth all the time and effort — and ill-will it has engendered,” she wrote, saying she’ll accept the lower salary for now.

She added: “Please, for the sake of the Party, put this issue to rest and don’t let it fester going forward. I particularly don’t want persons outside the party to hear about the quibbling as it will undermine our fundraising efforts among major donors. We have a very positive story to tell, and together we will win!”

Republican sources told The Seattle Times some GOP leaders were dismayed by Hutchison raising the “war on women” meme in her memo. They added that there has long been discussion within the party about how much the state party chair should be paid. “There is no war on women,” said one GOP source familiar with the dispute.

In an interview Wednesday, Hutchison said she considered the matter closed. “I’m sure that as time goes on and as people become more confident in our ability to raise money and so forth, we’ll all take a look at it again,” she said.

Comments | More in Washington state Republican Party | Topics: Susan Hutchison, Washington State Republican Party


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