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Republican Loren Culp says he's ready to challenge Inslee for governor as the 'law and order' candidate

Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, first got national political attention by defying the voter-approved gun control initiative, I-1639.

Loren Culp says he's ready for the challenge of taking on a two-term incumbent for governor.

"My message has been all about getting this big bloated government under control, getting it off our backs and out of our pocketbooks," said Culp in an interview Friday, back home in Republic, Wash.

His admittedly unusual journey to this point began with his decision, as Police Chief of the 1,100 person town, to not enforce gun control initiative, I-1639.  It led to appearances in conservative media, a book tour, and the start of his campaign.

In November, Culp will take on Gov. Jay Inslee, the twice-elected Democrat who is aiming for his third term in office.

RELATED: Top Washington primary races: Inslee, Culp advance in governor's race

It's not the route taken by most candidates for statewide office — at least those who have gathered hundreds of thousands of votes.

He argues that his background in business and the military gives him a well-rounded candidacy. 

The Republican from Republic also is the self-declared "law and order" candidate.

"People have families, they want law and order, they don't want this so-called homeless crisis to continue, you know, with these people that are stuck in this cycle of addiction. The left says it's not compassionate to put them in jail, you know, so they just leave them on the streets stuck in the cycle of addiction," Culp said. "That's why we have these tent cities, the garbage, the feces, the dirty needles everywhere. You know, Jay Inslee is running around the country when he was running for president talking about helping our environment. Well, how about we help our environment right in our own backyard, and get these things cleaned up and get these people help? There's garbage everywhere." 

Inslee declined an interview on Friday through a spokesperson.

"Governor Inslee is honored by the overwhelming support he received on Tuesday night. His focus remains on leading the fight to defeat COVID-19 so that Washington can safely and responsibly reopen," his spokesperson said in a statement.

However, Inslee did express concerns on Tuesday about Culp's victory rally near Leavenworth, which featured live bands and several hundred people without masks. 

Culp had a response for that, too.

"(He said) I don't care about people's health, and I'm putting people in danger. But this is the same Jay Inslee who's released thousands of prisoners from our state penitentiary, two of which have committed murder since they've been released. And multiple crimes. A lot of them have re-offended and that falls right in the footsteps of Jay Inslee. And he wants to talk about me endangering people by letting them make the free choice to come to my rally and wear a mask or not. I'll have that debate anytime with Jay Inslee," he said.

Culp argues that the mask debate is also part of a larger discussion about personal freedoms.

"If a store requires a mask, when I go to it, I put on a mask. If they don't, then I don't," he said. "I have been meeting and greeting people, handshakes, hugs, talking to thousands of people every day for the last, what, three or four months? If anybody is going to catch COVID it would be me, right?" 

RELATED: GOP gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp held election rally despite coronavirus restrictions

Culp also argues that the state's mask orders do not follow the Constitution.

"Our forefathers have to be rolling over in their grave right now, knowing that they fought against the world superpower to free this country and now in 2020, we have a governor, that is telling each and every citizen you put on a mask and you don't take it off until I say there's a virus. That's not freedom. That's not Washington State. That's not abiding by the Constitution," he said.

He also rejected a question that dealing with the budget constraints of his community is not on par with what is facing the state.

The latest projections suggest that Washington is facing a $9 billion dollar shortfall, because of the pandemic and related economic crisis.

"We don't have a revenue problem with the state, we have a spending problem. We need to get that under control," says Culp. 

But when asked for a specific department ripe for trimming, he was vague.

"There isn't one that I don't think is ripe for trimming. Our state government has doubled in size since Jay Inslee took office. Ask anybody that I talked to the roads aren't any better. The services aren't any better from any government agency."

Culp led a KING 5 statewide survey of Inslee challengers prior to election day. That same survey showed historic disapproval and head-to-head polling for President Donald Trump.

If the numbers hold in the fall, they would the lowest numbers in Washington state for any Republican presidential candidate in 108 years.

Culp says that's irrelevant.

"I'm not running for president. I'm running for Governor of Washington State. You know, I like what President Trump has done. A lot of people don't like his personality. He's, you know, brash, but I didn't vote for him to be my pastor. Right? I voted him for him to run our country, like a successful business."

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