Washington Gubernatorial Debate: Inslee vs. Culp
By Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
Former military serviceman, small business owner, and current Police Chief in Republic, Wash, Loren Culp was the favored Republican candidate during campaigns. This landed him in the hot seat next to 2-term serving Gov. Jay Inslee, a former U.S. Representative and former presidential candidate. Incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee and candidate Loren Culp faced off in the one and only televised Washington Governor’s Debate on Oct. 7.
The event was broadcasted from the TV Washington Studios in Olympia where both the candidates were placed in their own rooms with a screen to see the moderators, their opponents, and question cues while the four moderators were socially distanced in the main room. The moderators included reporters from various Washington news networks: Essex Porter from KIRO 7 News, Brandi Kruse from Q13 News, Chris Daniels from KING 5, and Melissa Santos from KCTS 9/Crosscut.
The debate format was different from what viewers saw in the previous week’s Presidential debate and what Washingtonian’s are typically used to. First, the candidates started with their opening statements. The night then continued with moderator questions with timed answers and rebuttals. The next part of the evening was when the moderators could circle back to certain questions for an optional follow-up before proceeding to the candidate’s closing statements.
The debate started off strong with allegations being made already in the opening statements. Culp brought in his campaign focus “changing the leadership crisis” in Olympia and attacked Inslee right from the beginning. Inslee’s opening statement addressed the COVID-19 pandemic right away, stating his position on masks and about opening the economy in Washington.
Throughout the one-hour televised event, Inslee placed a strong focus on education, healthcare, the ongoing economic crisis, and of course, the platform he entered the Presidential race on, climate change and climate policy. Culp, on the other hand, spent the majority of his time and his answers addressing his experience, including his previously owned and ran construction company, his military and police experience, his small-town life, and experience with previous elected officials.
One of the key issues of the night, and first question, concerned the use of masks and President Trump’s guidelines on wearing them. Moderators prompted Culp to answer first as he has faced the same criticism as President Trump for his large campaign rallies where masks are not required. Culp responded with a response about working for the people, something he believes the current public servants in Washington are not doing. He spoke up for people’s individual civil liberties, criticizing Inslee’s previous decisions in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and citing his own beliefs specifically concerning small businesses not being allowed to open versus big box stores.
Inslee was asked a similar question, relating to how he has handled the coronavirus pandemic and his phased in approach to reopening the economy of, “Why should voters after 7 months, over 200 days, of a stay-at-home order believe that you have a coherent plan to open the state?” Inslee responded by citing other states’ infection numbers and the success he has found in saving the lives of individuals, slamming President Trump’s policies and Culp’s views in the process. He also mentioned that the economy has been reopened and it has been happening for two weeks and will continue to see changes in the coming weeks.