Republican candidates tackle car tabs, gun rights in KTTH gubernatorial debate

Mar 2, 2020, 3:05 PM | Updated: Mar 3, 2020, 6:08 pm

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Republican candidates for Governor shared a debate stage Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, moderated by KTTH host Jason Rantz.

Washington state’s race for governor is beginning to heat up, buoyed by the first Republican gubernatorial debate airing on AM 770 KTTH.

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The list of candidates included: State Sen. Phil Fortunato, former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed, activist Tim Eyman, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, and businessman Anton Sakharov.

Candidates answered questions from moderator and KTTH host Jason Rantz on a wide range of issues, from gun control to immigration, all to answer one simple question: What makes them the best choice to take on Jay Inslee in November?

For some, the message at the gubernatorial debate centered on unifying both Republican and disillusioned independents and Democrats.

“We are all taxpayers first — Democrat, Republican, independent,” said Eyman. “It is the unifying issue in my mind — you can’t do it based on party.”

“We have to [appeal to Democrats] as a Republican Party,” Freed agreed.

Not everyone on the debate stage saw that as a viable strategy, though.

“We have to be true to who we are — we are Republicans. We have to gear toward our Republican voters,” Sakharov said. “We can’t appeal to Democrats — that’s impossible.”

$30 car tabs

With Eyman’s $30 car tab initiative still tied up in court, candidates differed over how the measure was originally conceived. When asked whether Eyman went about his initiative the right way, Sen. Fortunato outlined his own objections.

“I ran a clean bill,” he noted, referring to his recently-introduced bill in the state Legislature. “People wanted $30 car tabs, that’s what this is; no ambiguity. Had it just been $30 car tabs, there would be no challenge in the court, and everybody would have been happy.”

Gun rights

Gun rights was one topic that no candidate disagreed on, with all of them voicing their support for 2nd Amendment protections.

“1639 was an atrocious initiative,” said Eyman, referring to a stringent gun control measure approved by voters in 2018.

“The 2nd Amendment makes this country unique — that’s what it is the best country in the world,” Sakharov said.

Who can beat Jay Inslee?

Facing questions about whether he’s too moderate in a crowded Republican field, Freed pointed to his experience as Bothell’s mayor and a city council member as evidence of his political acumen.

“I believe that running for governor, we need diverse ideas, and I have that diverse experience to address those ideas,” he described.

Others like Culp, though, billed their background in law enforcement.

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“I’m the law and order candidate,” he noted. “People are sick and tired of what Inslee and the far left have done — I’ve stood up for the people that I work for.”

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Republican candidates tackle car tabs, gun rights in KTTH gubernatorial debate