NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

Denialist politics from a sore loser: Loren Culp labels Congressman Newhouse a Democrat

Evi­denced by his refusal to con­cede an elec­tion he lost by a half-mil­lion-vote mar­gin, 2020 Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al nom­i­nee Loren Culp is a sore loser.

Culp was back on the bal­lot this August as a Trump-backed can­di­date for Con­gress against Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house, one of ten House Repub­li­cans who vot­ed to impeach Trump after the Jan­u­ary 6th insurrection.

He fin­ished out of the mon­ey, tak­ing third place in Washington’s Top Two qual­i­fy­ing elec­tion. Culp is still going after New­house weeks later.

“The choice for Con­gress in Wash4 is between two Democ­rats,” said the for­mer “chief” of Repub­lic, Wash­ing­ton’s one-man police depart­ment in a recent tweet.

“Should we vote for one who is hon­est about his par­ty affil­i­a­tion or one who lies and says he is a Republican?”

Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton pro­duces tart grapes for award-win­ning wines, but this is a clas­sic case of sour grapes… or per­haps one more effort to wring con­tri­bu­tions out of Culp’s donor base.

The 4th Dis­trict in Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton is Repub­li­can turf. It last elect­ed a Demo­c­rat to Con­gress in 1992: Jay Inslee last­ed one term. (The future gov­er­nor would return to Con­gress in 1998 as the 1st Dis­tric­t’s representative.)

If you are a vot­er in Washington’s 7th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, you did­n’t see a Demo­c­rat on your bal­lot for either House con­test. Repub­li­cans hold every sin­gle leg­isla­tive seat in the con­gres­sion­al district.

Nonethe­less, in the Top Two, New­house fin­ished bare­ly ahead of Demo­c­rat Doug White (each of them got less than thir­ty per­cent). White car­ried the congressman’s home turf of Yaki­ma Coun­ty. Ultra MAGA Trump Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Culp at 21.61%, divid­ed up more than 43% of the vote.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, an attrac­tive self-start­ing Demo­c­rat has emerged in this Repub­li­can bastion.

“He (White) is a local busi­ness own­er with an inter­na­tion­al busi­ness and tech­nol­o­gy back­ground in Hong Kong,” Solveig Torvik, a retired Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer edi­to­r­i­al writer who lives near Twisp, wrote in the Methow Val­ley News.

Torvik not­ed that White had raised $450,000 and was seek­ing sup­port to make a race of it in the gen­er­al elec­tion. She lament­ed, how­ev­er, that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is “list­less” in Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, and that Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton is rarely a stop­ping place for “sel­dom seen Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray.” The par­ty did recent­ly hold a Cen­tral Com­mit­tee meet­ing in Wenatchee and Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee did appear in Leav­en­worth at the nineti­eth birth­day par­ty of phil­an­thropist Har­ri­et Bullitt.

The rur­al, inde­pen­dent-mind­ed Demo­c­rat used to be a part of the state’s polit­i­cal ecol­o­gy. Alas, it is now as endan­gered as the spot­ted owl.

Okanogan Coun­ty vot­ed for the win­ner of every twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry pres­i­den­tial elec­tion until going for Bob Dole in 1996. Since then, it has even vot­ed against local ranch­er Peter Gold­mark when he was State Land Commissioner.

Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton is site of a major Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial achieve­ment, Grand Coulee Dam and the Colum­bia Basin Project, Go to the vis­i­tor cen­ter and you’ll see pic­tures of a jaun­ty Franklin D. Roo­sevelt tour­ing the dam con­struc­tion site.

Sad­ly, gone are Demo­c­ra­t­ic-held leg­isla­tive seats in places like Moses Lake, Wal­la Wal­la, and Selah (where Inslee had his start in elec­tive office).

The Democ­rats who once held these seats had to be pret­ty pop­u­lar and rec­og­nized peo­ple to get elected.

Curi­ous­ly, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive New­house ini­tial­ly won and held his seat in Con­gress with votes from Democ­rats. Under our top two qual­i­fy­ing sys­tem, New­house faced off in 2014 and 2016 against Tea Par­ty activist Clint Didi­er. Estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans filled the air­waves with TV spots defin­ing Didi­er as an absolute kook.  The far right was turned back. (Didi­er, an Eltopia farmer and ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the Colum­bia Basin Project, is now a Franklin Coun­ty Commissioner.)

New­house has, how­ev­er, been a toe the line and late­ly hard- line Republican.

He has strayed once into inde­pen­dence – the impeach­ment vote. By show­ing not only loy­al­ty but feal­ty, he is like­ly to be the only, or one of two, impeach­ment Repub­li­cans to ride out the storm and sit in the next Congress.

The tight focus on MAGA Repub­li­cans makes us for­get the spe­cial inter­ests to which a Repub­li­can mem­ber of Con­gress cus­tom­ar­i­ly pays feal­ty. Take the gun lob­by. New­house has received an A‑plus rat­ing from the Firearm Indus­try Trade Asso­ci­a­tion, and an A rat­ing and endorse­ment from the Nation­al Rifle Association.

“You have stood strong against Pres­i­dent Biden and Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi ‘s unre­lent­ing assault on law abid­ing gun own­ers,” said the NRA.

“Pres­i­dent Biden and Speak­er Pelosi’s end­less dri­ve to take away our most fun­da­men­tal rights must be stopped and I will nev­er let my guard down in the fight to pro­tect our free­dom and lib­er­ty,” New­house responded.

New­house is chair­man of some­thing called the West­ern Cau­cus, a drill-baby-drill lob­by of Repub­li­can House mem­bers com­mit­ted to extract­ing trees, min­er­als, and oil and gas from pub­lic lands.

“The West­ern Cau­cus is proud to sup­port our nation’s aggre­gate and extrac­tion indus­tries,” New­house pro­claimed in a recent tweet.

The mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton agri­cul­ture indus­try has been built (lit­er­al­ly) on the backs of work­ers toil­ing away in the dis­tric­t’s orchards, vine­yards, and fields — many of them Span­ish-speak­ing immi­grants from Cen­tral America.

In a mem­o­rable homi­ly mark­ing the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Yakima’s Catholic Bish­op Joseph Tyson defined their vital role in build­ing the state.

It hasn’t stopped Dan New­house from mouthing the par­ty line on immi­gra­tion.  “My leg­is­la­tion, the Uphold­ing the Law and Our Bor­der Act, will ensure our agents have the resources they need to keep our coun­try safe,” he said last week.

Else­where, New­house favors end­ing Endan­gered Species Act pro­tec­tion for wolves, oppos­es rein­tro­duc­tion of griz­zly bears to the North Cas­cades, and has growled that Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion’s cli­mate rules “are major gov­ern­ment over­reach” and threat­en farm­ers’ abil­i­ty to operate.

He oppos­es the administration’s stu­dent loan for­give­ness – “fur­ther exac­er­bat­ing infla­tion” – and rails against “Demo­c­ra­t­ic one-par­ty rule.”

Sor­ry, Loren Culp, that doesn’t sound like a Democrat.

The good news is we don’t have a Didi­er or Culp on the Novem­ber bal­lot this year, but a Demo­c­rat attuned to a dis­trict with an agri­cul­ture-focused econ­o­my… an econ­o­my that would­n’t exist were it not for major invest­ments by fed­er­al tax­pay­ers in bygone decades and an econ­o­my that still needs a robust pub­lic sec­tor to meet chal­lenges from com­plet­ing the cleanup of radioac­tive wastes at Han­ford to restor­ing the Colum­bia River’s dam-rav­aged salmon runs.

Part of Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton – Chelan and Kit­ti­tas Coun­ties – is rep­re­sent­ed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er.  Schri­er has shown a knack for tack­ling dis­trict prob­lems, as shown in her delight­ful TV spot on help­ing hay producers.

There’s no mil­i­tant extrem­ist on the 4th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict bal­lot this Novem­ber, but an attrac­tive Demo­c­ra­t­ic alter­na­tive. Doug White is an under­dog, a wor­thy under­dog. The reestab­lish­ment of a two-par­ty sys­tem in Cen­tral and East­ern Wash­ing­ton is a goal that will ben­e­fit the state.

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