Referring to the Building Industry Association of Washington's notable shift from being a stalwart Republican-backing group to a more run-of-the-mill pro-business group, former Washington State GOP Chairman Chris Vance tells The Seattle Times, "What it means is the Republicans have no allies with any real money."
University of Washington political science professor and frequent Seattle Weekly political analyst Matt Barreto, meanwhile, says Vance is crazy--crazy like a fox.
Vance's comments come in the Times's story posted yesterday.
The BIAW, long a trusted source of fund-raising and rabble-rousing for the state GOP, has made a conscious effort to stop being overtly partisan, and has even begun mending fences with Democrats like Gov. Chris Gregoire. That's the same Gov. Gregoire who the BIAW once said was a "heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead."
Today the group has a different tune.
The BIAW has "changed dramatically," said Sam Anderson, executive officer of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, which belongs to the group.
"BIAW wants to be seen as a player that you'd like having at the table," Anderson said, adding that he doesn't expect the BIAW to return to its big-dollar, hyperpartisan campaigns of the past.
But will the BIAW's absence really impact the GOP as much as Vance claims it will?
Writing to Seattle Weekly, Barreto says "No way," and points to an ulterior benefit of the BIAW's softening of its hard-line stance and of Vance's pretending his party may end up broke.
I would say Vance's comments are a serious exaggeration. Part of the motivation of the BIAW changing practices was to make nice with Republican candidate for Governor Rob McKenna, who they had previously opposed. If anything, this new policy opens the door for the BIAW to start a relationship with McKenna through the 2012 election.
If you look back to the 2010 Senate race, the BIAW was not the largest player, but rather money was pouring in from national groups outside of Washington state, including those backed by Karl Rove, as well as the Koch brothers. With the Citizens United court ruling, we are doing to see all kinds of new campaign spending records broken in 2012, with huge piles of money coming from the National Party Committees, as well as Super-PACs and other interest groups. I seriously doubt the Republican Party of Washington state has no allies with money. But making a statement like that helps get money from small donors, which I assume is what Vance was up to, ever the smart strategist.