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Former state GOP chair challenges Cantwell in Senate run

Washington state's former Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison said it's time for a "major upheaval."

Former Washington state GOP Chair Susan Hutchison filed Friday to challenge Democratic incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell in her re-election campaign.

“I am challenging a sitting Senator who does not deserve the honor of another term,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison, who filed in the final hours of the filing deadline, said supporters had been asking her to run for a long time, but she calls this week the tipping point.

“I just came to the conclusion especially with the latest developments in Seattle that it’s time for major upheaval,” said Hutchison, referencing the vote for a Seattle head tax.

Seattle City Council voted Monday to pass an employee head tax that will raise about $47 million per year for the next five years for housing and homeless services. Businesses have slammed the tax saying it would impact high-volume, low margin businesses.

“People are fed up and are ready for a change," calling Washington's top Democratic elected leaders "left-wing elites."

Hutchison, who stepped down in February as state GOP chair, said her top issues will include the economy, Washington's agricultural industry, and exports.

In 2016, Hutchison emerged as an early supporter of then-candidate Trump, even defending the lewd comments Mr. Trump made while talking to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in the now infamous 2005 recording that came out the month before election day.

Hutchison also made headlines that year for calling Senator Ted Cruz a traitor at the Republican National Convention, after Cruz declined to endorse Trump during a primetime address.

"The alt-right vs. all-Trump primary the WA State Republicans have ahead of them will be fascinating to watch," said Ansley Lacitis, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Democratic Party.

"We're confident with our chances with Senator Maria Cantwell, a woman who has been fighting for Washington State her whole career," she continued.

Cantwell is seeking her fourth term in office, after unseating Senator Slade Gorton, a Republican, in 2000.

Up until Friday, Cantwell faced more than two dozen lesser-known challengers, including conservative activist Joey Gibson, founder of the Patriot Prayer group.

Hutchison, a former Seattle television anchor before entering politics, ran for King County Executive in 2009 but lost to Dow Constantine.