NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 1st, 2019

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announces climate-focused presidential campaign

Washington’s own Governor Jay Inslee has become the thirteenth major candidate to launch a bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination for U.S. President.

In a video released this morning, Inslee made his ambitions official and unveiled his campaign’s identity, trade dress, and focus: stopping and reversing climate damage.

“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it,” said Inslee in an email to potential supporters. “That’s why I’m running for president: to make defeating climate change the nation’s top priority. This is our moment to act. That’s why my first pledge to you as a candidate is this: I won’t be taking a dime from corporate polluters. Nothing. No fossil fuel money. No corporate PACs. Just you.”

“The science is clear: We have a short period of time to act,” the email goes on to say. “Whether we shrink from this challenge, or rise to it, is the single biggest question we face. Working together we can transform our economy, create a just transition, and lead the world in innovations that will drive the future!”

Inslee is the first credible presidential candidate from Washington State in a very long time. Legendary U.S. Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson previously sought the Democratic nomination many decades ago, but was unsuccessful.

Inslee is hoping to at least make climate justice a burning issue in the 2020 campaign, even if he doesn’t secure the Democratic nomination.

Critics have joked on Twitter that in launching a climate-focused presidential bid, Inslee is really running for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. But the latest climate science tells us that we’re running out of time to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet. The premise of Inslee’s campaign is that climate justice needs our full attention and our leaders’ full attention.

NPI doesn’t endorse candidates or engage in electioneering for or against any candidate. But we are glad to see Jay Inslee run for President.

He will bring a Pacific Northwest perspective to the 2020 campaign.

As an experienced governor — and thus far, the only governor to have entered the race — Inslee actually brings a lot more to the table than a focus on climate.

He may end up getting labeled a single-issue candidate by pundits and people who don’t know him well, but as a governor and a former United States Representative who has represented two very different districts in his home state, Inslee is familiar with and has positions on all the big issues our country faces, from gun safety to net neutrality to immigration and protecting the rights of refugees.

Inslee ran for Congress in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010, and won all but one of those campaigns. In between those congressional campaigns, he also ran unsuccessfully for governor. In 2012, he left Congress to run for governor a second time and won, defeating Republican Rob McKenna.

Inslee was reelected in 2016 for a second term, defeating Bill Bryant.

No one else in the Democratic field has fourteen years of congressional experience and six years of executive experience as a governor. And with the exception of one or two other candidates, like Elizabeth Warren, none of the other contenders have theĀ  down to earth, plucky, aw-shucks, let’s go get ’em disposition that Inslee does.

“Early to bed, early to rise; work like hell and organize. Let’s go get this job done!” is something Inslee often says to close out a speech. It perfectly encapsulates who he is: a people-centric, results-oriented leader who has consistently rejected the politics of cynicism. Inslee brings a contagious, can-do spirit to every room he’s in.

As Governor, Jay Inslee has signed legislation to make Washington one of the easiest states to cast a ballot in, ban LGBT conversion therapy, defend net neutrality, ensure women truly have the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions, and invest in mass transit plus freight mobility.

He soon hopes to sign legislation permanently abolishing the death penalty.

And he has courageously proposed levying taxes on the wealthy to make Washington’s unfair, worst-in-the-nation tax code more progressive.

Inslee’s critics scoff at these accomplishments and point to the many challenges the state currently faces, such as with mental health and Western State Hospital.

The truth is, these challenges predate Inslee’s governorship. We all share responsibility for figuring out how to take care of the most vulnerable among us. None of us are perfect. We’ve all made mistakes. We’re human.

During Inslee’s first term as governor, Republicans controlled the Washington State Senate and turned that chamber into a graveyard of progress where good ideas went to die. Little progress was made tackling issues like mental health because Republicans like Mark Schoesler made agreeing on a budget to keep state government open the most torturous process imaginable.

In fact, in their last year of control of the Senate, Republicans refused to even pass a capital budget, which historically had been an easy bipartisan lift.

When Democrats retook the Washington State Senate in 2017 with Manka Dhingra, reestablishing a Democratic trifecta, the floodgates opened for the liberation of previously trapped bills. The end of divided government also resulted in an end to the stupid, run-out-the-clock budget games that Republicans had been playing.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats expanded their majorities in each chamber and now are in firm control of the statehouse. They are poised to send Inslee a significant number of bills by session’s end to raise the state’s quality of life.

Inslee will have to balance governing with campaigning, especially in the near future, since the legislative session will not end until April 28th.

Republicans are laughably demanding that Inslee resign so he can pursue his “vanity” White House bid. Of course, were Inslee to do that, Cyrus Habib would become Governor of Washington State and Republicans have made it clear they like Habib even less than they like Inslee. Their posturing is to be expected, but it contributes nothing to our state or country’s political discourse.

In 2015/2016, multiple Republican governors sought the presidency without resigning from their posts, including Chris Christie, who was embroiled in scandal. Republicans naturally did not demand those men resign from their posts.

Inslee is far better situated to run for President than Christie was. Unlike Christie, he doesn’t have divided government to worry about back home. And in Cyrus Habib, he has someone who’s more than capable of filling in for him while he’s out of state campaigning. Even Inslee’s critics ought to be able to agree that Washington and the Pacific Northwest stand to benefit by having Inslee in the 2020 race.

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One Comment

  1. The last serious Washington candidate was Senator Scoop Jackson, who was prominent on the national scene, but not the best campaigner. He went out after losing the Pennsylvania primary.

    # by Mike Barer :: March 2nd, 2019 at 10:53 AM