- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

PASCO, Wash. (AP) - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chris Vance told the state Republican Party convention on Saturday that it is time to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray after four terms.

“This year I am going to retire Patty Murray for you,” Vance told a crowd of some 2,000 attendees on the convention’s final day. “Patty Murray is the status quo. She’s got to go.”

Vance said Republicans can win statewide elections in Washington, even though the Puget Sound region, the state’s population center, tends to favor Democrats.

Vance predicted Republicans this year will win the governorship, claim control of the state House and expand their grip on the state Senate.

Vance did not mention during his speech that he was not planning to vote for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. During a town hall meeting in Pasco on Thursday night, Vance was sharply criticized by some people for refusing to support Trump. He said he intended to leave his presidential ballot blank.

The attendees were busy Saturday electing their final delegates to the national Republican Party convention in Cleveland in July.

Washington is sending 44 delegates to the national GOP convention. But those delegates will not know who they are supporting until after the results of the Washington primary election on Tuesday.

On the Washington ballot, Republicans can choose among Trump, and his former challengers Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich or retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who remain on the ballot.

Cruz was the popular choice among many people who attended the convention.

Dozens of candidates to become a delegate to the national convention were given 30 seconds Saturday morning to make their pitch for votes.

“This is the most critical election since at least 1980,” said John Carlson of King County, a conservative radio host.

Rob Chase of Spokane County railed against the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, calling it the most “monstrous piece of legislation ever foisted on the American people.”

Saturday’s session opened with a speech by former congressman Doc Hastings, who represented central Washington for two decades.

Hastings, a native of Pasco, predicted that Republicans were in the process of becoming the majority party in Washington, which is generally considered a Democratic state.

“It is incumbent on all of us to get behind the nominee so we can win the presidency,” Hastings said. “The alternative is four years of Hillary.”

Hastings noted that he was elected to Congress in 1994 after beating Democrat Jay Inslee, who was finishing his lone term as the congressman from central Washington. Inslee is now the governor of Washington.

No Republican has been elected governor in Washington since John Spellman in 1980, a streak that is the longest in the nation.

“I got elected to Congress by beating Jay Inslee,” Hastings said. “So he is beatable.”

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