Populist small town police chief roars to top in WA governor’s race

Police Chief Loren Culp has emerged as the leader among Republican challengers to Democrat Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Loren Culp, the police chief in Republic, Wash., has finished on top in a race for the Republican primary victory—out-pacing more experienced candidates with better name recognition—to run as the GOP candidate challenging the state’s two-time Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee in November.

Culp, who operated a construction business for several years before he entered law enforcement, gained national notoriety in 2018 when he announced he would not enforce provisions of a restrictive gun control initiative that had just been passed. Initiative 1639 was pushed through by the billionaire-backed, Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility in a lopsided campaign where opponents had comparatively no money to fight.

He was interviewed on national television, and started his run for the governor’s office more than a year ago. Since then, he has crisscrossed the state by car and private plane, appeared at grassroots rallies and raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions, mostly in small amounts from thousands of Washington citizens hoping to change the state’s tilt toward far-left political domination.

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Culp out-distanced 35 other gubernatorial challengers, bringing in a preliminary 16.7 percent of the votes. Former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed, a favorite of many establishment Western Washington Republicans, only pulled in 7.29 percent of the vote, stunning many political observers who considered Culp a distant also-ran…until Tuesday night.

The small-town police chief has conducted a populist campaign, and he has never before run for political office. But his appeal to voters across central Washington, from up north in Okanogan County to down south in the Tri-Cities area near the Washington-Oregon border was stunning. According to preliminary vote counts in the Wenatchee World, Culp actually outpaced incumbent Inslee in Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties.

While it will take a Herculean effort for Culp to beat Inslee, many Evergreen State conservatives on Wednesday were insisting it can be done, provided every Republican gets behind Culp’s candidacy.

In another closely-watched, though not all that close, race, far left Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has spent the past 3 ½ years filing an endless string of lawsuits against President Trump’s administration, was outpacing all three of his serious challengers with a comfortable 56.67 percent of the initial vote tally. The nearest GOP rival, Matt Larkin, pulled in 23.5 percent of the vote.

Why the attention to Washington State? It’s become a magnet for far-left politics and political activists. But the COVID-19 pandemic panic may have changed the dynamic, along with a growing anger over gun control, high taxes and violent protests over the past few months in Seattle.


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