Jay Inslee wins 3rd term as Washington governor

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has been elected to a third term in Washington state, beating Republican challenger Loren Culp.

Inslee is the first incumbent elected to a third term in the state in more than 40 years.

Culp, police chief of the small town of Republic, campaigned in part against Inslee’s coronavirus restrictions like mandatory masks, saying they infringe on people’s constitutional rights.

Governors in Washington state aren’t subject to term limits, though most haven’t served more than two terms. The last three-term governor in Washington was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.

Inslee briefly ran for his party’s Democratic presidential nomination last year and has been a frequent and high-profile critic of President Donald Trump.

Inslee faced 35 challengers in the August primary. He received just over 50% of the vote, with Culp coming in second with more than 17%.

Inslee is a former congressman and served as Democratic Governors Association chairman in 2018. His six-month run for president last year focused on climate change, an issue that has been central to his two terms as governor.

Culp got national attention after saying he wouldn’t enforce gun regulations approved by voters in a 2018 initiative. He later wrote the book “American Cop: Upholding the Constitution and Defending Your Right to Bear Arms.”

Since Inslee, 69, announced his decision to run for reelection last summer, he’s been confronted with a series of challenges, including the first known U.S. coronavirus case announced here in January and a state economy rocked by the ensuing pandemic.

There have also been frequent skirmishes between police and protesters during months of demonstrations against police brutality after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and wildfires that affected both Eastern and Western Washington. And last month, Boeing announced it will consolidate production of its two-aisle 787 jetliner in South Carolina and shut down the original assembly line for the plane in Everett.

The only debate between the two candidates was held last month, and due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the candidates participated in the televised debate from separate rooms at the Olympia headquarters of TVW, the state’s government affairs channel.

As of this week, there have been more than 108,000 confirmed cases in Washington since the pandemic began, and more than 2,300 people have died. For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, although long-term effects are unknown. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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