“It’s not the first time that Republicans in Washington state have chosen a far-right gadfly as their nominee for the governorship, but Tuesday’s primary in which Loren Culp—a small-town cop who has never previously run for elective office—outpaced a large field to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee marks the first time the party has selected a bona fide extremist from a faction mostly connected to militias, armed takeovers, and terrorism.
Culp has unapologetically embraced the association with the radical right—primarily, a far-right “constitutionalist” organization, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, that primarily recruits law-enforcement officers into a belief system that includes the notion that the county sheriff is the highest law officer in the land whose edicts supersede state and federal laws and the officers who enforce them.
A 2016 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the CSPOA’s reach was fairly widespread nationally, though hard numbers are difficult to come by. The report noted the damage caused by the CSPOA is both direct and indirect:
The spread of this ideology has consequences. The number of threats and assaults against the [Bureau of Land Management] rose from 15 incidents in 2014 to 28 in 2015, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The number of incidents targeting the U.S. Forest Service rose from 97 in 2014 to 155 last year.”