At 32-years-old, Washington State's new Republican State Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich is hoping to make inroads with a millennial voting demographic that data shows typically favor the other Party.
“The old image of the Republican Party is old men, basically, and at least now we have a young man who can speak to young people moving into Seattle, working at Amazon, working at Microsoft,” said Heimlich, currently the youngest Republican Party Chairman in the nation.
Heimlich says part of his voter outreach strategy will including using emerging technologies and apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, as well as email and texting.
“I think it’s communicating with people how they communicate. A lot of that goes back to smart phones, but I think it’s also important to be doing that face-to-face, in person with happy hours,” explained Heimlich.
The new state Party Chairman acknowledges he's taking the reins during what's expected to be a tough year for Republicans, as Democrats target taking back the U.S. House, and potentially the Senate.
“You would be foolish not to worry,” said Heimlich. “I think if you look at historic trends, the president's party generally loses an average of 30 seats in the next congressional election. That's just a historical fact.”
The past year has also seen a surge of Democratic activism, on top of low national approval ratings of the President, as he's struggled to reach beyond his base.
“The President’s policies are popular,” countered Heimlich. “When you separate that from the personality, people are excited about the direction of our country.”
Heimlich argues that Republicans have united around the Trump administration’s economic policies, national security and trade policy.
However, recent state polling indicates Democrats have may have an edge in Washington in 2018, particularly as King County suburbs trend more blue.
The 8th congressional seat which include parts of Eastern King County, held by retiring Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, is considered a key pickup opportunity for Democrats this year.
It’s one of 23 "crossover" districts nationwide that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but represented by Republicans members of Congress. Democrats need to win at least 24 congressional seats to win back the U.S. House, a chamber they haven’t controlled since 2010.
While the other Republican held congressional districts in Washington state are considered safer seats to defend compared to the 8th district, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers' seat in Eastern Washington to their updated target list.
“You can’t take anything for granted in politics,” said Heimlich.
Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, is also up for reelection this year, but a Republican challenger has not yet announced. Heimlich says that could change in the coming months.
In additional to big federal races, Washington will also have a number of key state legislative races this year.
The Democratic Party took full control of the state legislature with the election of State Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, last year.
However, Democrats will have to defend their one seat majority in the Senate this year, as well as defend a slim majority in the House of just two seats.
Chairman Heimlich says the State Republican Party will target districts where President Trump did well in 2016, including along the Olympia Peninsula.
Hutchison's future plans have not yet been revealed.