Splash page for Jay Inslee's reelection camapign
The new splash page for jayinslee.com, replacing Inslee's presidential campaign website

Wash­ing­ton State’s incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is com­fort­ably posi­tioned to become the first per­son in almost fifty years to secure a third term as the state’s chief exec­u­tive, ear­ly elec­tion results indicate.

Inslee, six­ty-nine, has an out­right major­i­ty of the vote in bal­lots count­ed so far, which means he has more sup­port than every sin­gle one of his thir­ty-six chal­lengers com­bined. Inslee will prob­a­bly face Repub­lic police chief Loren Culp in the autumn gen­er­al elec­tion, as Culp is Inslee’s only chal­lenger above 10%.

Well behind Culp are Joshua Freed, Tim Eyman, Raul Gar­cia, and Phil For­tu­na­to. (The quin­tet are so far behind that the Asso­ci­at­ed Press has already pro­ject­ed that Culp will advance to the autumn bal­lot along with Inslee, as of 11 PM).

Top six fin­ish­ers in the 2020 guber­na­to­r­i­al race as of August 4th, 2020

Jay Inslee, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party
649,074 votes | 51.86%

Loren Culp, Repub­li­can Party
209,517 votes | 16.74%

Joshua Freed, Repub­li­can Party
91,250 votes | 7.29%

Tim Eyman, Repub­li­can Party
88,177 votes | 7.05%

Raul Gar­cia, Repub­li­can Party
63,093 votes | 5.04%

Phil For­tu­na­to, Repub­li­can Party
50,943 votes | 4.07%

The ear­ly results val­i­date the polling done in the gov­er­nor’s race by both Elway Research and Sur­veyUSA, which both found that Culp was Inslee’s strongest chal­lenger. Elway’s polling in par­tic­u­lar was very close to the actu­al ini­tial tally.

As we report­ed here last month:

Elway’s sur­vey finds that Culp is now the lead­ing Repub­li­can in the race, with 14%. The Repub­lic police chief has been pro­mot­ing his extrem­ist can­di­da­cy with bill­boards and online ads; he is well known among the Repub­li­can grass­roots, and it looks like his mes­sage could be catch­ing on with the par­ty faithful.

The elec­tion was in progress at the time that poll was tak­en, of course, and it was appar­ent then that Culp was enjoy­ing a surge of momentum.

Culp cur­rent­ly has 16.74% of the vote, where­as all the oth­er Repub­li­can chal­lengers are stuck in the sin­gle dig­its. Joshua Freed, a for­mer Both­ell City Coun­cilmem­ber, has 7.29% of the vote, and scam­mer Tim Eyman has just 7.05%.

Upon learn­ing that he was in fourth place, Eyman hilar­i­ous­ly adopt­ed the mantra of let’s wait and see what hap­pens after all of the bal­lots are count­ed, which is the typ­i­cal pos­ture of a can­di­date behind in the count on Elec­tion Night.

Of course, in the weeks pre­ced­ing Elec­tion Night, Eyman was going around con­fi­dent­ly pre­dict­ing vic­to­ry for his candidacy.

“I firm­ly believe I will win the August 4th [elec­tion] and be the can­di­date cho­sen by the vot­ers to chal­lenge Jay Inslee in the fall cam­paign,” Eyman wrote in an July 15th email. “I’m con­fi­dent of that.”

The data, on the oth­er hand, showed that Eyman’s cam­paign was expe­ri­enc­ing neg­a­tive momen­tum and was head­ed for defeat in the Top Two elec­tion.

As we can see, the data was cor­rect, while Eyman was wrong.

The noto­ri­ous scam­mer and chair thief insist­ed all win­ter and spring that he would make the per­fect oppo­nent for Inslee, cit­ing his enthu­si­asm for sling­ing mud from the gut­ter. But vot­ers clear­ly aren’t inter­est­ed in his tox­ic “mosh­pit politics”.

As I’ve observed here, it’s one thing to run cons against the vot­ers in the form of decep­tive bal­lot mea­sures with loaded ques­tions that give you a built-in struc­tur­al advan­tage. Sell­ing snake oil isn’t that dif­fi­cult when you have a coop­er­a­tive mass media that will ensure your dis­hon­est sales pitch­es reach a wide audience.

But pitch­ing bal­lot mea­sures is very, very dif­fer­ent than run­ning for office as a can­di­date. When you’re run­ning for an elect­ed posi­tion, it’s your name and par­ty affil­i­a­tion on the bal­lot… and that’s it. If you don’t con­nect with vot­ers and earn their trust, you won’t do well, because peo­ple vote for who they iden­ti­fy with.

Tim Eyman has always pro­claimed that vot­ers are smart and they know what they’re doing. So I imag­ine Eyman is pret­ty frus­trat­ed tonight to see so many Wash­ing­to­ni­ans iden­ti­fy­ing with Gov­er­nor Inslee and endors­ing him for a third term, while Eyman lan­guish­es in the sin­gle digits.

Right wing radio host John Carl­son, who often has Eyman on his show as a guest, absurd­ly claimed last week that if Inslee gar­nered 45% of the vote or less, that would sig­ni­fy he was vul­ner­a­ble to a chal­lenge from one of the Repub­li­cans vying to defeat him, despite the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s forty year los­ing streak in guber­na­to­r­i­al races and its trans­for­ma­tion into a Trump wor­ship­ing cult.

It is prob­a­ble that in the days to come, Inslee’s share of the vote will grow while his oppo­nents’ com­bined share will shrink. Even going by John Carl­son’s yard­stick, Inslee is in excel­lent shape. He is well posi­tioned to win a third term.

It’s not a cer­tain­ty because noth­ing is a cer­tain­ty, but it’s extreme­ly likely.

Repub­li­can State Par­ty Chair Caleb Heim­lich non­sen­si­cal­ly tried to argue after the ini­tial returns were post­ed that Inslee is “still not that pop­u­lar with the vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton State.” That’s despite the fact that Inslee has con­sis­tent­ly improved his mar­gins of vic­to­ry as a guber­na­to­r­i­al candidate.

In August 2012, Inslee got 47.13% in the Top Two elec­tion against a bevy of oppo­nents; in August 2016, he got 49.3%, and now he’s get­ting 51.86%. Like­wise, Inslee did bet­ter in Novem­ber of 2016 than in Novem­ber of 2012.

All the evi­dence sug­gests that Inslee will do bet­ter against Loren Culp than he did against Rob McKen­na eight years ago or Bill Bryant four years ago. Inslee’s pop­u­lar­i­ty is going up, not stag­nat­ing or falling. So it’s absolute­ly hilar­i­ous that Caleb Heim­lich’s take on these results is that Inslee is “still not that popular”.

Heim­lich is undoubt­ed­ly aware that polling by Sur­veyUSA shows that Inslee would get a whop­ping 60% of the vote in a head to head matchup with Loren Culp, which would be Inslee’s biggest elec­toral vic­to­ry of all time. Not even Repub­li­can oper­a­tives think Culp is a cred­i­ble oppo­nent for Gov­er­nor Inslee.

Culp has nev­er run for office before and holds extreme­ly mil­i­tant, far right wing posi­tions on every issue imag­in­able. He’s unques­tion­ably a dream can­di­date for Trump back­ers… and, amus­ing­ly enough, he is also a dream oppo­nent for Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists who’d like see Gov­er­nor Inslee secure one of the biggest vic­to­ries in the his­to­ry of Wash­ing­ton State guber­na­to­r­i­al races.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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