All Politics is Local

Brian Baird’s project to elect centrists is over

Remember that time when a Democrat from Southwest Washington and a Republican from the Puget Sound area got together to form a new political action committee to support “independent, centrist-minded candidates for elected office”?

Well, it appears to be over.

In 2017, Chris Vance, a former head of the state GOP who left the party after becoming disaffected with Donald Trump, and Brian Baird, a Democrat who represented the 3rd Congressional District for six terms before retiring in 2010, launched Washington Independents PAC.

Backed by Unite America, a national project to elect centrists, the new political committee was intended to offer disaffected voters a socially tolerant, fiscally conservative, pro-free trade and environmentally minded alternative to the two dominant parties.

But on Tuesday, Vance took to Twitter to announce that he and the effort’s co-chair, former Congressman Brian Baird, were suspending Washington Independents PAC, which they had hoped would be a vehicle to electing centrists to public office.

According to Vance’s statement, Washington Independents backed Ann Diamond’s and Ned Witting’s respective campaigns for Legislature.

“Unfortunately, the election results and polling data made it obvious that electing an organized slate of independents is not a viable strategy at this time,” wrote Vance in the statement.

He continued that Unite America was instead focusing its efforts on “systemic reforms to our electoral system, rather than supporting independent candidates. At the same time, it has become clear that there is no serious effort underway, or on the horizon, to create a new national centrist third party.”