I’m only making a few endorsements in a few key races this primary season, but they are contests with a decisive impact on shaping the tone and climate of the 2020 general election at the state level.
In the Governor’s race, I’m handicapping each of the five major Republicans, and explaining why I’m supporting or opposing their candidacy. Thank you for considering these choices, and feel free to email me your reaction at: email@example.com.
The first question to ask yourself is: do Republicans even have a shot at this race? Four months ago, things looked bleak. Jay Inslee is a Democratic Governor in a Democratic State with a fully united party behind him and plenty of money.
But in the wake of the deliberate government shutdown, lost jobs, unrest and riots in Seattle, two new issues have suddenly emerged: restoring law and order to protect people’s safety, and making sure our kids can get back to school in September. Jay Inslee is on the wrong side of both issues, plus he’s running for a third term, which rubs many voters, regardless of party, the wrong way. So yes, I believe the Governor’s race could be in play this year. Let’s consider who would make the strongest case for change among the Republican challengers.
State Senator Phil Fortunato from the Enumclaw area has run a campaign that respects the intelligence of the voters, putting forward a steady stream of solid ideas. He also clearly knows how government runs, as the only legislator in the race. But with the legislature in session, he was prohibited from raising money, which put him at a distinct disadvantage. When Tim Eyman unexpectedly entered the race, a lot of Fortunato’s anti-tax support drifted Eyman’s way. Then Loren Culp scooped up a lot of his Second Amendment supporters. Result: A good man with a good message who hasn’t been able to deliver it. Being a public servant kept him from being a successful candidate.
Tim Eyman has the most name recognition in the race, courtesy of 20+ years of policymaking through initiatives that have saved taxpayers billions. Which is why he’s out of place as a candidate for Governor. I’ve known Tim Eyman for over 20 years. He is the very definition of a political outsider. That’s where his skills lie – in crafting policies that would never make it through the legislature, securing a friendly ballot title, then taking his case directly to the people. That is what he should keep doing. Michael Jordan was a great basketball player who after a while decided to try pro baseball. Didn’t work, so he went back to the NBA. Tim should avoid elective office for the same reason. Wrong sport.
Loren Culp has electrified the rightward base of the party, partly because of his plain, unvarnished, tell it like it is style, and partly because he’s the anti-Inslee – a rural eastern Washington resident who’s never been in politics and never planned to be until he loudly announced two years ago that he would refuse to enforce the gun control initiative 1639. That brought the media world knocking at his door. Culp draws big crowds at rallies, has far more Facebook friends (about 60,000) than any of his opponents, and for that matter, either state political party, and has more statewide signage than McDonalds. But can he win the general election? His allies say yes, insisting that more experienced, polished candidates with mainstream appeal always lose. That they do. But so have candidates who are every bit as conservative as Loren Culp – Ellen Craswell in ’96 and Bob Williams in ’88. What you need is someone who can unite the Republican Party, and reach out to independents and Democrats increasingly isolated by the left wing of their own party.
I can see Loren Culp in a legislative office – Congress or the State Legislature, even the County Commission. But an executive post like Governor requires deeper knowledge about both government and politics that Loren doesn’t have yet. He told me that he believes both Trump and he can win Washington State in November. I wish that were true. It is not.
That leaves Joshua Freed and Raul Garcia. This was not an easy choice for me. Both successful, both in their late 40s, Freed, a conservative in the Reagan tradition, Garcia, more moderate, but with a conservative foundation forged when his family fled Castro’s Cuba when Raul was a boy. Joshua Freed has run for, and held local political office before, while Garcia has not. But Garcia picked the right time to run – he’s an ER doctor working on the front lines of battling COVID-19, and is highly critical of how Inslee has handled the shutdown. And like Freed, he has a plan for getting schools open again in September, which I believe is, along with supporting our police officers and restoring law and order in Seattle, the sleeper issues in this campaign.
Both candidates would be serious, formidable challengers to Inslee in November. But one reason made Joshua Freed my choice in next Tuesday’s primary: Joshua puts his time and money behind the issues he cares about. It’s not just walking your talk – both Garcia and Freed (and the other candidates) do that. But when the legislature passed one of the most radical sex education bills in America earlier this year, Freed not only spoke against it, he gave money to help launch the historic referendum drive to repeal it (almost all by mail and drive-by signings because of the shutdown). Result: the people will have the final word on the matter in November. I like candidates who throw themselves into causes without taking polls or conducting focus groups, first. Leaders don’t follow polls. They help shape them.
I have no doubt either man has what it takes to deny Inslee a third term and govern effectively. And I believe both candidates will help the rest of the Republican candidates down ballot by making state issues front page issues – which is a vital concern for anyone alarmed at the political imbalance in the current legislature. Raul Garcia would be a fine candidate. Joshua Freed would make a great one.
OTHER STATEWIDE OFFICES
LT. GOVERNOR: Three good candidates in this race, two of whom have waged strong campaigns. The best of a good lot is Marty McClendon
SECRETARY OF STATE: Kim Wyman is all that stands between Seattle’s liberal political establishment seizing control of Washington’s election system. That’s why the campaigns against her are so down and dirty. Stick with Kim.
STATE TREASURER: Duane Davidson has done a commendable job and deserves a second term.
AUDITOR: I’m giving newcomer Chris Leyba a chance to prove himself in this race.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: A close call because newcomer Matt Larkin has waged a very impressive campaign. I’m voting for experience in this one: Mike Vaska, who has the skillset to dismantle the political attack shop assembled these past eight years by arch-partisan Bob Ferguson.
INSURANCE COMMISIONER: Incumbent Mike Kreidler has held this office for seven terms – about six and a half too many by my reckoning. The best candidate for this position is NOT the Republican, who I think is unqualified. Instead, for with Anthony Welti
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC LANDS: What’s this? A female scientist with a background in economics, and land conservation – and she’s a Republican! Don’t miss this chance to vote for Sue Kuehl Pederson. For legislative races at both the state and congressional level, I am urging a Republican vote to correct the terrible imbalance in Olympia, and to fire Nancy Pelosi as Speaker in Washington, D.C.
The one exception I’m making is the Washington State Senate race in Issaquah – Sammamish, where moderate Democrat Mark Mullet has no Republican opponent, but is being challenged by a far more liberal Democrat. By all means, vote for Mark Mullet. He has publicly come out against raising taxes, which is why the party’s left wing wants him out.