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Four candidates chase Republican nomination for governor

This weekend is JT Wilcox’s annual Salmon Bake. It’s one of the largest annual political events of its kind, focused as much on community and family as it is on politics.

It’s a major draw for Republicans across the state and those interests that would like a balance to the Democratic dominance across much of state-level politics.

It’s also the kind of place that might draw a candidate announcement or two for folks seeking office in 2020.

So, ahead of that, I thought we’d run down the folks already registered as candidates for the Republican nomination to be governor of the State of Washington.

There are four candidates, all men, who have filed with the Public Disclosure Commission to get started raising money and organizing ahead of 2020.

1. Phil Fortunato, Auburn

Fortunato is a state senator, having previously served as member of the House. He’s conservative and outspoken in a manner that isn’t always aligned with his district.

He won a House seat in 1998, losing after one term to Geoff Simpson in the 47th. He later ran against Chris Hurst in the re-districted 31st LD, coming up short against the Democrat in 2014.

In 2016, he won an open seat in the 31st for the House. He later won a special election to the senate in 2017 where he has held office since.

2. Joshua Freed, Bothell

Former Bothell mayor and city council member Josh Freed filed August 9th to run for governor. He served on the council for 12 years, and helped to oversee the re-development of the downtown Bothell community.

He ran for the legislature first in 2002 and again in 2004, losing in districts that were lean-Democratic seats.

He has a background as a family therapist, small business owner, and now as a land and home developer in the north King County area.

Freed is well connected among a new generation of Republicans who have come of age in the last decade or so. My guess is that he will become a formidable force in the primary, likely to well outpace the other three current candidates, though he tells the Seattle Times he hasn’t made up his mind about running.

3. Loren Culp, Republic

Loren Culp is the police chief of Republic. He made news as local public safety official that was unwilling to enforce regulations on gun ownership, like raising the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon or requiring enhanced background checks.

Culp doesn’t have any political experience, nor is it clear that he can put together the team and infrastructure for a compelling primary campaign, much less a general election candidacy.

But, he may get a boost from some national figures that could fill some of his coffers. Ted Nugent apparently called him a “freedom warrior” and commended him to his social media audience.

4. Anton Sakhorov, Issaquah

“Make Evergreen Evergreat” is Sakharov’s tagline, in a nod to Donald Trump and the 2016 campaign theme.

“I am an immigrant who has lived through Soviet socialism and witnessed religious oppression and antisemitism and I clearly see that our current path is a dangerous one. While socialism makes fake promises of equal outcomes, we must instead ensure equal opportunities.

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