Hours after withdrawing from the Democratic presidential field, Governor Jay Inslee has announced that he will be a candidate for Governor of Washington State in 2020, via an email blast sent out to his list. Here’s the text of that message:
As you know, I join you in being rightfully proud of Washington state and what we have accomplished together.
It has been a profound honor to represent our state on the national stage in the presidential race. I am grateful for the opportunity to have told the country about Washington state’s successful model of progressive action we are building together.
We have provided the nation a road map for innovation, economic growth, and progressive action. And we’re not done yet.
I want to continue to stand with you in opposing Donald Trump and rejecting his hurtful and divisive agenda, while strengthening and enhancing Washington state’s role as a progressive beacon for the nation. Which is why I’m announcing today my intention to run for a third term as Washington’s governor.
I’m excited to do so — because our great success as a state these last few years gives me confidence that we can continue to lead the nation in so many ways. Our multiple accomplishments have paved the way for much to come in the next term.
We’ve created the first public option for health care in the nation, the highest increase in average public school teacher pay in the country, and the fastest growing economy in America.
That’s what we do in Washington — we’re innovators, builders, creators — and I am eager to build and expand on this unique record of progress and economic success for the people of our great state.
Together, we’ve built an economy that works for working people. Washington has raised the minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation, provided paid sick leave for every worker, and created a best-in-the-nation paid family leave program.
We were the first state to protect net neutrality, and we have passed the most sweeping package of voting rights laws in the nation.
We have protected LGBTQI Americans from discrimination, provided affordable health care to over 800,000 Washingtonians through Obamacare, and passed reproductive parity protections for all women. We became the first state to sue against Trump’s Muslim ban and passed historic investments in public schools, teacher pay, and infrastructure.
We’re also leading the nation in tackling the climate crisis. Our efforts to protect Washington’s clean air and water, invest in people’s economic security, and stand up for the values of inclusivity and diversity have created thousands of clean energy jobs and made Washington state “the epicenter of resistance to Trump’s agenda.”
These progressive policies have propelled Washington’s economy to be the best in the nation — and the only state that has been ranked both the best place to work and the best place for business.
Since I became governor in 2013, Washington state has ranked number one in both wage growth and GDP growth.
Washington’s story shows the economic power of progressive action.
We’ve made incredible progress together, but there’s much more to do. Make no mistake — we will not be resting on our laurels.
We fully intend for Washington’s future to be every bit as dynamic, innovative, and inclusive as its past.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and organize. Let’s get to work building an even greater Washington together.
Very truly yours,
Inslee’s presidential campaign website has already been taken down and replaced with a splash page for his gubernatorial reeelection campaign.
Republicans are trying their best to pretend that they have a legitimate shot at capturing the governor’s mansion in 2020, a claim that has no basis in reality. Republicans haven’t won a gubernatorial race in the state since 1980, when John Spellman was elected. It’s the longest gubernatorial losing streak in the country.
Even State Republican Chair Caleb Heimlich understands this.
In a tacit admission of the extremely long odds Republicans face in 2020, Heimlich ended a fundraising email by saying: “With your donation of $20 today, we can show the truth about Governor Inslee and organize in every corner of the state to elect a Republican Governor for the first time in my lifetime!”
Heimlich and other Republicans have been very critical of Inslee’s presidential campaign, repeatedly dismissing it as a “vanity run” and whining incessantly about the cost to taxpayers for Inslee’s State Patrol provided security detail, while remaining quiet as churchmice about Donald Trump’s failure to reimburse taxpayers for his campaign-related travel and his travel to his golf courses.
As a presidential candidate, however, Inslee had the opportunity to crisscross the country pitching Washington State as a great place to live and work.
His presidential run therefore had value to the taxpayers of Washington State, even if it didn’t catch fire. There is arguably no better or more credible spokesperson for a state’s business climate than its governor. Inslee has a compelling story to tell about Washington and he’s been telling it. And, as a candidate, he’s also had the opportunity to learn what other states are doing on a number of fronts.
That could make him a more effective, knowledgeable chief executive.
Inslee’s decision will, as I explained last night, likely defer a political realignment in state Democratic politics until after the 2020 presidential election cycle is over.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and King County Executive Dow Constantine have all consistently said they would support Inslee in the event he wanted to seek a third term.
Now he is — so that means their own gubernatorial ambitions are on hold.
Franz has actually already said as much to the Associated Press, noting that she’s quite focused on her current job. As Commissioner of Public Lands, Franz heads the state’s Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for geologic hazards research and fighting wildfires. Franz is in her first term as Commissioner and is well positioned to secure reelection in 2020 to a second term.
Bob Ferguson, meanwhile, is in a similar boat. He is in his second term as Attorney General and can seek a third term next year, like Christine Gregoire did in 2000. (Gregoire served as AG for twelve years before running for Governor.)
“Governor Jay Inslee should be proud of his success promoting climate change as an urgent issue demanding immediate action,” said Ferguson in a statement.
“There would not be climate town halls if it were not for Jay Inslee calling for a real climate change conversation. I’ve spoken with Washingtonians across the state who appreciate Governor Inslee working to highlight Washington state’s leadership, including our efforts defending workers, enforcing civil rights, protecting our environment, growing our economy — and our undefeated record stopping the harmful policies of President Trump. I support Governor Inslee’s re-election, and I will pursue another term as Attorney General.”
With Franz staying put and Ferguson choosing the same path, there won’t be openings for Lands Commissioner and Attorney General in 2020.
That means the “exploratory committees” of Noah Purcell, Drew Hansen, Lorena Gonzalez, and Christine Rolfes will be winding down. All had been prepared to seek higher office had Inslee chosen not to run for a third term.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has already been elected to his current post three times: in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Constantine’s third term runs through 2021. Given that Constantine was largely unopposed in his last two reelection bids, he might choose to seek a fourth term after the 2020 presidential cycle ends.
No incumbent in Washington’s executive department has announced that they will not be a candidate for their post in 2020. If anyone does retire, it would probably be Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who is closing in on nearly twenty years as the state’s overseer and regulator of private insurance companies.