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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Vance to run again for top state GOP job

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Chris Vance, a political junkie and former legislator who has given the state Republican Party an aggressive persona in this Democratic-leaning state, said yesterday he'll seek another term as GOP chairman.

Vance, 42, said the party's gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi, has asked him to stay on as chairman. Rossi is informally the titular head of the party and has the right to request his choice for chairman, Vance said.

Vance has been one of Rossi's foremost advocates and has been a public spokesman during an eight-week recount battle since Election Day. He was doing those duties again yesterday, with a news conference and a round of interviews and talk-show appearances to lay the groundwork for a possible legal challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's victory last week in a manual recount.

Vance, a former state House leader and King County Council member who ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the state school superintendency, also has been mentioned for the 2006 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

Vance said that's a decision for another day.

"The political world is in enough flux to even think about that," he said.

Rossi himself has been mentioned as a Senate nominee should his bid for governor fail.

Rossi endorsed Vance at the party's executive board earlier this month.

The party election is Jan. 29 in Tukwila. The term is for two years.

Vance acknowledged that he has some critics in the party, including activists calling themselves Reagan Wing Republicans. The group says Vance and a "liberal elite" have run the party and have strayed from core party principles.

Potential challengers are Sharon Bumala of Battle Ground, Clark County; Rose Strong of the Seattle area; and Mark Hulst of Mount Vernon.

Vance said the critics are a small minority of the party's grass roots and typically are backers of Reed Davis, who ran unsuccessfully this year for the party's nomination to oppose U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Vance infuriated Davis and his backers by barring him from the rostrum at the state Republican Convention when Davis refused to sign the so-called "11th Commandment" not to bad-mouth fellow Republicans.

Vance openly recruited and backed U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt for the Senate nomination, much as he backed Rossi for governor and tried to fend off primaries battles.

Vance is a conservative, but he has said GOP nominees in the more moderate or liberal districts need to address local concerns and use themes that resonate with unaffiliated voters.

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