Forum of Culp, Eyman, Freed and Fortunato on TVW 

  BELLINGHAM ­— An upstairs training room of Bellingham Cold Storage became the venue on Thursday, June 18, for four Republican gubernatorial candidates to present themselves for taking on Gov. Jay Inslee in the fall election.

  It wasn’t so much meant for the limited in-person audience of about 30 as for transmission on radio and TV. The two hours was carried live on station KGMI locally as well as in Seattle and Tri-Cities, and can be viewed on the Washington public affairs network TVW (https://www.tvw.org/watch/?clientID=9375922947&eventID=2020061152).

  This was the first time in the campaign that Loren Culp, Joshua Freed, Phil Fortunato and Tim Eyman were sitting and facing the same questions together.

  Culp, the police chief of Republic but also with 20 years in construction in the Olympia area, has built a strong support base especially in eastern Washington, where he grew up.

  Eyman has the name familiarity associated with statewide tax-cutting initiatives over the past 22 years — which he said shows he is the one to actually get things done — and he is now running for his first elected position.

  Fortunato is the only one of the four currently in an elected office, state senator for a term from Auburn, and he said he is familiar with the issues and people and processes to effect change from day one in Olympia.

  Freed has been the mayor and a city councilor of Bothell, as well as running small businesses. He and his family have done charity projects in the world, and Freed is unique among these four in saying he will give the governor’s salary instead to homeless shelters or drug rehab facilities.

  Eyman provided perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening by announcing, during one of his times at the mic, that the 42nd District’s senator Doug Ericksen — sitting in the back of the room — was supporting him. Fellow senator Fortunato at least looked surprised. 

  Culp challenged the other three to say, and support, what is in Article 1, Section 7, of the Washington Constitution — “no person shall be disturbed in his private affairs ... without authority of law” — and Culp repeatedly said some version of his theme that “government needs to get out of our businesses and out of our lives.”

  Freed asked, in his turn to pose a question of the others candidates, how many people they had ever had to manage, since governor is primarily an administrative position. Freed said he has  often had to be in the role of hiring or firing.

  Fortunato cited issues on which he has had to lead, and fight for, as a Republican against a Democratic majority in state government.

  Eyman pleaded several times with his fellow Inslee challengers to focus their attacks on the two-term governor rather than each other, “clawing each other’s eyes out” and be weaker for the general election in November.

  All talked about shrinking the size of state government and its budgets, “taking back control” for citizens, and restoring individual and business enterprise.

  The primary election is Aug. 4, and voters will face a list of 35 on their ballot running for the position of governor alone. 

  There are other Republicans in the race beside these four. The next day, a virtual forum sponsored in Snohomish County also included Anton Sakharov.