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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington GOP Chair Expects Party To Coalesce Around Trump

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Washington state's Republican Party chair expects GOP voters to coalesce around Donald Trump.

Washington Republicans will ultimately coalesce around Donald Trump as the apparent presidential nominee. That’s the prediction of state Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison as her party gathers Wednesday for its state convention in the Tri-Cities.

A few weeks ago, Hutchison thought the state convention would draw three presidential candidates.

“We did not get the convention we had expected,” she said.

Instead, Ted Cruz dropped out of the race followed by John Kasich. Now it’s just Donald Trump left. Hutchison says Republicans who supported those other candidates may still be licking their wounds as they come together at the state convention.

But she thinks ultimately they’ll get behind Trump.

“It may be a little soon for that to happen, but it’s going to happen eventually and I believe that Donald Trump is going to win this state in November,” Hutchison said. “And I think that in doing so he’s going to improve our chances up and down the ballot.”

Washington Republicans will use their convention to choose delegates to send to July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Those delegates will be bound by the results of next week’s presidential primary.

Washington Republicans said they’ve invited Trump or one of his surrogates to speak at the state convention in Pasco, but as of Wednesday they had not received a definitive answer.

The deputy director of Trump’s Washington campaign, state Sen. Doug Ericksen, said he was not anticipating an appearance by Trump.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."