Not too long ago, if you did not live in Ferry County up in the sparsely populated northeast quadrant of Washington, you would not have heard of Loren Culp. Republic is the only Ferry County town that even shows up on many maps of the state, and that’s the town where Culp is police chief.
Culp began achieving notoriety among gun enthusiasts and Don’t-Tread-On-Me libertarians when he announced he would not enforce a 2018 ballot measure approved by voters that put new restrictions on firearms. That stance made him a celebrity in the right-wing media and lifted him above a pack of weak Republican contenders to win the GOP’s nomination for governor.
Wednesday, the once-obscure lawman from Ferry County will debate Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, the incumbent who is running for a third term. Inslee got a big bump in notoriety, as well, over the last two years in a very different manner than Culp. Inslee joined the two dozen Democrats aspiring to their party’s presidential nomination and won plaudits from national pundits for running a credible, if unsuccessful, campaign.
When Inslee debates Culp, it will probably feel like a big step down from his participation in the early Democratic presidential debates. Of course, in those crowded shouting matches between the herd of ambitious, would-be commanders-in-chief, Inslee was almost completely shut out by moderators. At least in his debate with Culp, the governor will get plenty of time to have his say.
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