Loren Culp talks about 'really bad week', as he loses Governor bid and Police Chief job in Republic

RaeLynn Ricarte

Loren Culp has not yet conceded the gubernatorial race because his team is investigating “irregularities” in the ballot tabulation process, illegal campaign advertising and other issues.

“People don't trust the system anymore and that is why so many of them don't turn out to vote,” he said.

It amounted to actual voter suppression, said Culp, to have the media call the race for governor before the polls had even closed.

“We all have to respect the will of the people and we owe it to them to make sure it was a fair election,” he said, declining to provide further details about the work his team is doing.

“Right now we are digging down deep and we are not going to come forward until we have evidence.”

Although only 64% of Stevens County voters had weighed in as of press time Monday — much lower than many other areas of the state — Culp, a Republican, captured 70.93% of the local vote with 15,324 ballots cast for him, compared to Inslee's 6,222 votes, or 28.8%.

However, statewide, the overall turnout was 81% and Inslee, the incumbent Democrat, scored 2,232,001 votes or 57.02%. Culp had 1,669,878 votes on Monday, or 42.66%, and there were 12,604 write-in ballots.

It doesn't make sense to Culp that Washingtonians voted resoundingly against tax measures supported by Inslee, but then voted for the guy who consistently pushes for higher taxes.

He believes the legal challenges over fraud in the presidential election and questions over the integrity of the voting machines used in Washington and other states need to be answered.

“I am not a conspiracy theorist but we need to look at the facts. The anomalies that could be fraud have only occurred in Democratically-controlled states where they pushed for mail voting,” said Culp. “I think this election has made it clear that only by having people show up at the polls in person with identification can we eliminate much of the potential for fraud.”

After making at least five campaign stops in different parts of the state per week for the past several months, Culp said Sunday that he was taking some time off to spend with family.

He has plenty of time on his hands at the moment because the Republic City Council decided just days before the election to shutter the police department and contract for law enforcement services through 2022 with the Ferry County Sheriff's Office over the next two years. Culp was the police chief so he is out of a job. Ray Maycumber, sheriff of Ferry County, issued a public letter after the contract was signed. He said the city requested the county consider providing law enforcement services because it was financially distressed.

“This year has brought us new and difficult challenges; many times we have found ourselves in the position to consider options we might otherwise not have. I have faith that we will get through this together and be strong for it,” wrote Maycumber.

Culp has invested 10 years into serving citizens through the police departmen. He said a 120-year tradition ended with the council’s Oct. 30 decision.

“It was a really bad week, but that's just life,” he said. Through the contract with the local sheriff's office, he has to be offered a job, but will make less money and lose his administrative role. Culp said the campaign has opened up options that he might explore, but he is making no snap decisions.

“Everything's up in the air right now, I don't know what I'm going to do,” he said.

The Republic council made its decision in a special meeting, and Culp questions why there was such urgency. The sheriff's office had been filling in for Culp while he was on a leave of absence to concentrate on his campaign, said Mayor Elbert Koontz. He said, although the contract had been discussed over several months, he felt the timing of the decision was “rather suspect” but the council had the right to act to make the decision.

“I told them I didn't like it,” said Koontz.

Voting in favor of the switch were Councilors Rachel Siracuse, also the assessor for Ferry County, Jim Burnside and April Drennan. Voting against was Lori Simone.
Koontz told Culp about the decision during one of their almost daily phone calls.

“It felt like a knife in the back,” said Culp, who said he was never personally notified by Maycumber about the intent to submit a contract proposal, or that he would be guaranteed a job if the sheriff’s plan was accepted.

According to city records, $215,000 was paid in 2019 to run the police department with two officers. By 2020, an unfilled vacancy left Culp as the only law enforcement officer in the department, for a total operating cost of $156,000. The sheriff's office is being paid $70,000 to cover law enforcement services through the end of 2020 and then $332,000 for the next two years of service.

Culp questions why, if costs were the motivation for change, the council did not act when the city was paying $80,000 to the sheriff’s office for record keeping and evidence processing services for three years — but that work was actually being done by his department, which then had three officers and a secretary.

“I can’t say whether this decision was politically motivated,” he said. “However, this is the same council who wouldn’t approve Republic as a sanctuary city for Second Amendment rights when Initiative 1639 [gun control laws] was approved in 2018.”

Culp was the first law enforcement officer in the state to refuse enforcement of I-1639 laws out of the belief they violated the state and federal constitutions. He wrote a best-selling book about the issue and his stance led to his gubernatorial candidacy.

“What I do know is that whatever happens next, I’m going to keep fighting for the citizens, that’s what my stand against gun control and my campaign for governor was all about,” said Culp.