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caption: The 2020 August primary ballot features 36 candidates for governor.
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The 2020 August primary ballot features 36 candidates for governor.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

Friday politics: Loren Culp advances over other Republican gubernatorial candidates

It was a big week in Washington politics as results of the August primary came in. One surprise was Loren Culp nabbing a spot on the November ballot over other high-profile Republicans. Q13's CR Douglas and KIRO 7's Essex Porter discuss the primary results with KUOW's Angela King.

Angela King: What do you make of the strong showing from Loren Culp?

Essex Porter: Voters chose his experience in the Army and as a police chief over Tim Eyman’s anti-tax activism. They liked that Culp is a small-town police chief. He's standing for traditional law order and gun rights in an unsettled time. And I saw him able to make a strong personal connection with voters. The highlight of his election night rally that I watched a little bit of was when he married a couple on stage.

King: Oh, I didn't know that. But I did see a lot of people not wearing masks or practicing that social distancing at that rally.

Porter: And so did Governor Inslee, he brought it up when he talked with me on election night. And it's clear that Governor Inslee wants to draw a clear contrast between himself, who he believes is trying to keep Washington safe using science, and people who are doing what he said was dangerous gathering in a big group and not wearing masks.

King: C.R., lots of people thought initiative promoter Tim Eyman would do much better given his name ID but he came in fourth place. So what do you make of that?

C.R. Douglas: I do think that all of Eyman’s personal problems finally caught up with him. The money laundering lawsuits, the contempt of court fines, the bankruptcy declaration ... those all seem to become much more important when it was his name actually on the ballot, not just one of his initiatives. But I do suspect there was also probably some Eyman fatigue at play. He's been a fixture on the political scene for over 20 years. That would have seemed to be an advantage, but it's pretty clear that even conservatives were looking for a fresh face, and they certainly found that in Loren Culp.

King: Besides the governor's race, what stood out to you from Tuesday?

Douglas: The most notable takeaway, I think, is what a strong night it was. for Democrats. Their candidates are solidly ahead in eight of the nine statewide offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, lands commissioner. Democrats are solidly ahead in seven of the 10 congressional races. They're set to keep their strong majorities in the state Legislature. You know, Republicans certainly had some notable showings on Tuesday, in a clear lead for Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. But overall Democrats here in Washington came out of this vote as strong as they'd been in in quite some time. And that's notable since August primaries typically aren't good ones for Democrats, and the electorate is older, whiter and more conservative than in general elections.

King: There's likely to be a number of new African Americans in office here in Washington come November. including many women. Do you think that's the result of the recent police protests and the strength of the Black Lives Matter movement?

Porter: To some degree, yes, but that's that's not really enough. You have to remember our filing deadline to run for office was in early May. George Floyd wasn't killed until weeks after that deadline. And that means these candidates had to make a commitment, had to start organizing and raising money, well before this current racial justice movement began. You know, there is a political group, though that is focused especially on black women. Some of them are looking pretty successful in this election, either with a bit of a lead or certainly pretty close to the top. One race that I'm watching is T’wina Nobles’ state Senate race in Tacoma-Pierce County. She is narrowly leading Senator Steve O’Ban, a longtime incumbent.