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Inslee's leadership in pandemic has earned him another term

Jay Inslee is the clear choice for Washington state governor in the Nov. 3 election.

For perspective, this is a new position for this newspaper. In 2012, when Inslee first ran for governor we endorsed then-Attorney General Rob McKenna, a moderate Republican. Four years later, when Inslee was seeking a second term, we endorsed Bill Bryant, also a moderate Republican,

But in 2020 Inslee, a Democrat, has shown strong leadership during the current COVID-19 pandemic. And Washington state desperately needed it.

This spring Washington was the first state in the U.S. to be hit with coronavirus cases at a high rate. For a time, we led the nation in deaths. It was, to put it very mildly, a concerning situation.

But reasonable action was taken to protect Washingtonians from the spread of the disease, including ordering the closure of some businesses and mandating the wearing of face coverings.

As a result, the virus has not grown out of control statewide and the lives of many Washingtonians were saved.

Inslee challenger this year, Republican Loren Culp, is simply not the right fit for Washington nor is he qualified to be governor.

Culp, who is on leave from his job as the police chief in the city of Republic (population 1,073 at the last Census), made a national name for himself when he publicly stated he would not enforce a voter-approved initiative calling for, among other things, a prohibition on 18 to 21 year olds buying semi-automatic weapons because he believes it is not constitutional.

While Culp’s stand is sincere, it’s not acceptable. Police chiefs (or sheriffs or any public officials) don’t decide what is or isn’t constitutional, that’s a final judgment reserved for the judicial system.

His grievances against Inslee are myriad, generally focused on over regulation that creates an anti-business climate in the state.

That’s political rhetoric. U.S. News & World Report ranked Washington state as the third best state economy. It also ranked its business environment third.

Now, to be clear, those rankings are boosted by the red-hot economy in the Seattle area. Nevertheless, Inslee has done a solid job at the helm.

Inslee has also shown leadership on education, which has been a tricky issue because of a state Supreme Court ruling mandating the state fully fund basic education.

While we have been critical of Inslee for not quickly calling a special session of the Legislature to dramatically trim state spending in the wake of COVID mitigation (and the loss of tax revenue), he used his veto pen to slash $445 million from the state operating budget. That was a smart and necessary move that won him no praise from some of his traditional supporters.

Inslee’s strong performance over the past year has served the public well. We recommend voters re-elect him to a third term.