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 the  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