OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee advanced Tuesday in Washington's primary election as he seeks to become the first incumbent elected to a third term in the state in more than 40 years.
Inslee was leading decisively in early returns. He’ll face a small-town police chief in the fall. Loren Culp, who finished a distant second in the state’s “top two” primary, campaigned against Inslee’s coronavirus restrictions like mandatory masks, saying they infringed on people’s constitutional rights.
Inslee briefly ran for his party's Democratic presidential nomination last year and has been a frequent and high-profile critic of President Donald Trump.
“At such a pivotal moment, Washington state needs the opposite of Trump-style chaos,” Inslee said in a statement.
More than 30 other people also ran in the gubernatorial primary, vying to face Inslee in November, when he'll be a heavy favorite.
Culp is police chief of the tiny town of Republic in the northeastern part of the state. He wrote the book “American Cop: Upholding the Constitution and Defending Your Right to Bear Arms.” He got national attention after saying he wouldn’t enforce gun regulations approved by voters in a 2018 initiative.
Initiative 1639 raised the age limit to buy some weapons from 18 to 21 and requires enhanced background checks for people who buy those weapons.
Culp told The Seattle Times Tuesday night that people were tired of COVID-19 mandates from Inslee.
“They are ready for individual freedom and liberty being returned to this state, where citizens have the choice on what they want to do in their personal lives and business, and not have it dictated to them,” he said.
The 69-year-old Inslee is seeking a rare third term as governor. Governors in Washington state aren’t subject to term limits, though most haven’t served more than two terms. The last three-term governor in Washington was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.
Inslee is a former congressman and served as Democratic Governors Association chairman in 2018.