Republican gubernatorial candidate hopes to defeat Gov. Jay Inslee with an under swell of bipartisan support
CAMAS — Washington’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp made a stop on the campaign trail in Camas Wednesday, before continuing on to a larger rally to be held in Brush Prairie Friday.
Wednesday’s event was held at the Shangri-La Farm in east Clark County, with the event bringing in around 250 attendees who braved the outdoors despite wildfire smoke and pandemic restrictions. The Clark County Republican Women, headed by farm owner and artist Liz Pike, hosted the gathering.
Culp was slated to speak later in the evening, but instead spoke up front for 20 minutes.
“This campaign is just crazy. It’s been like riding a rocket ship,” Culp said. “I’ve never been a candidate for political office. I just kind of tripped into this one, I guess.”
Culp was one of well over a dozen Republican gubernatorial candidates during the primary, and now stands as the single challenger to Gov. Jay Inslee. Currently, Culp serves as the chief of police for the city of Republic, in eastern Washington, where he and his family live.
Prior to becoming chief in 2016, Culp worked in a variety of different capacities for the department, including as a narcotics detective for three years. In 2018, when Washington passed I-1639 making it illegal for persons under the age of 21 to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, Culp made national news as a police chief who would not be enforcing the new law.
“I knew that it was unconstitutional because we all know the Second Amendment,” Culp said. “Washington State Constitution is even more explicit when it comes to citizens rights. Article one, section 24 says that the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired. The day after that passed, I was asked by citizens that I serve, ‘What now? You’re gonna start arresting 18- to 21-year-olds you see with a semi-automatic rifle?’ And my answer to that was, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’”
Culp explained during Wednesday’s event that he expected many other law enforcement leaders across the state to do the same, but quickly realized that would not be the case. Later in 2018, Culp authored the book “American Cop,” which quickly achieved high levels of success on Amazon.
As a result of his stance on the initiative and authoring of “American Cop,” Culp was invited to several Lincoln Day Dinners across Washington in 2018 and 2019. In an under swell of support, many at such gatherings began asking and encouraging Culp to run for governor in 2020.
In July of last year, he announced his candidacy.
“I didn’t grow up thinking, ‘Man someday, I hope to be a politician,’” Culp said. “A lot of them tell you what you want to hear when it’s time for a vote or donation, but then they go about their dirty business otherwise, right? If I don’t jump in with both feet to turn the state around, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I don’t like to live with regret.”
Later on is his address, Culp explained the push back he has received during the campaign, and the many reasons some believed his candidacy to be a fantasy. Among them are statements like, “King County runs the state, how will a cop from eastern Washington win?” he said.
In response to this argument, Culp told stories of having met life-long Democrats at campaign events who said they would be voting for him; the first Republican to split their tickets. Culp said many of these individuals cite their frustrations with the COVID-19 response put in place by Gov. Inslee.
Culp also alluded to how the largest campaign contributions he has received have come from the west side of the state; specifically along the I-5 corridor. According to the Public Disclosure Commission, this is largely true. Of the more than $1.8 million raised by Culp’s campaign, nearly $1.5 million has come from western Washington.
“The biggest thing is when I talk about the rule of law and the Constitution as the rulebook for our government,” Culp said of his liberal support. “When we have a government and a governor who stays within the confines of that rule book, we don’t have someone making arbitrary decisions on what we’re going to do in our business and our family, in our life in general. It doesn’t matter your color, doesn’t matter your sex, doesn’t matter your age or your income or your education. Everyone is protected under the law. That is a constitutional republic.”
Culp recently challenged Gov. Inslee to an in-person debate, which the governor declined according to Culp. The two campaigns, instead, have agreed to a televised debate in which Culp and Inslee will be in separate rooms at a studio, per COVID-19 guidelines. Both candidates have agreed to have no support or devices in the studio. The debate will be broadcast on TVW.org on the evening of Oct. 7.