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.
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.”
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.