Culp hints at run against Newhouse over impeachment vote

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REPUBLIC — It’s not a formal announcement, but 2020 Washington governor candidate Loren Culp says he’s exploring whether to run for Congress against 4th District U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse.

Culp, a conservative Republican who lost to Jay Inslee last year by a margin of 56 to 43 percent, says Newhouse and fellow Congressmember Jaime Herrera Buetler betrayed the Constitution when they voted in January to impeach then-president Donald Trump. Both are Republicans.

In a Facebook Live address Monday night, Culp asked whether his supporters would endorse him if he made a congressional run in Newhouse’s district.

“If I were to run — if, okay? If. I’m not announcing anything. If I were to run against Newhouse in the 4th Congressional District for a seat in Congress, would you support me?” Culp asked. “That’s it.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse

Newhouse voted Jan. 13 to impeach Trump, who was then scheduled to leave office one week later after his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden. He was one of just 10 Republican House members to do so. Newhouse said when Trump reacted to the violent Jan. 6. insurrection by his own supporters at the U.S. Capitol, “The President let us down and broke his oath of office.” Local Republican Party committees in all seven counties of his district have condemned Newhouse’s vote.

Culp currently lives and owns property near the town of Republic in Ferry County, in the 5th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents that district, and voted against impeachment. State voter records show Culp used his Republic address when casting his ballot last November. A check of assessor records in the 4th District’s seven counties shows no listed property there owned under Culp’s name.

There’s no constitutional requirement that Culp establish residency to represent the 4th District, which includes Douglas, Okanogan, Grant, Yakima, Franklin, Benton, and Adams counties. The Washington Post reported in 2017 that an estimated 21 sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives then lived outside the districts they represented — including Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who at the time lived in Washington’s 9th District but won election in 2016 to represent the 7th.

However, Jayapal has since moved into the 7th District, and every current member of the Washington congressional delegation now lives in the district they represent.

Culp, a former police officer who lost last year’s gubernatorial election by more than half a million votes, has claimed Inslee won by fraudulent means, without providing any evidence. He filed and later withdrew a lawsuit against the Secretary of State alleging vote fraud in six key Washington counties, again without providing evidence for it.

Newhouse already faces a declared challenge from State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, who announced in late January he planned to run for the seat in 2022. Candidates may file formal election paperwork starting in May of that year.