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Inside Olympia: State Democratic Chair Shasti Conrad, Republican Chair Jim Walsh

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Exhausted and angry. Decidedly not hopeful or excited. That pretty much sums up the mood of American voters these days.

The Pew Research Center released new polling last month on Americans’ views of the state of politics. The results? More than 60 percent said they have low confidence in the future of the country’s political system. Trust in government and institutions is at historic lows. Nearly 30 percent have unfavorable views of the political parties — the highest share in three decades of polling. Nearly two-thirds of American voters say they’re unhappy with the presidential candidate choices for 2024.

So where does that leave Washington state’s top political parties? And how do they view today’s political environment, in the state and nation? That’s the backdrop as we sit down with the chairs of both parties.

Shasti Conrad was chosen as chair of the Washington State Democratic Party in January, the first woman of color and youngest chair to lead the Democrats, and the first woman of South Asian descent to lead a state party in the country. She sees the current state of public skepticism about politics as an opportunity.

Jim Walsh was elected chair of the State Republican Party in August. A state legislator who lives in Aberdeen and represents the 19th District, Walsh downplays the idea that America’s political system is in decline, saying we’re in a period of significant political change.

Who are they, what are their backgrounds, why did they seek to be chairs of their respective parties, and what are their priorities and messages to voters as they lead their parties? Get to know the leaders of our state’s Democratic and Republican Parties, this week on Inside Olympia.