Jay Inslee has pulled the plug on his presidential campaign.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Washington State’s chief executive announced that he has decided to withdraw from the 2020 field, having concluded that his candidacy was not gaining traction.
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) August 22, 2019
Inslee recently met the donor threshold for the third Democratic presidential debates in Houston, but he hasn’t been polling well enough to meet the public opinion threshold. Having concluded there was no way to be included in next month’s debates, Inslee has decided to leave the race.
“I want to share a tough decision with you,” Inslee said in an email to his list.
“I know you agree that our mission to defeat climate change must continue to be central to our national discussion — and must be the top priority for our next president. But I’ve concluded that my role in that effort will not be as a candidate to be the next president of the United States.”
(Emphasis is the campaign’s.)
“On Monday, our campaign hit one of two critical DNC thresholds to qualify for the next debate — 130,000 grassroots donors. Reaching that challenging milestone proves the strong support that defeating climate [damage] has amongst the grassroots of our party. However, at the same time we reached this threshold, it became clear that we would not meet the DNC’s polling threshold, thus we would not have been invited to the fall debates.”
“As a result, I don’t believe we can compete for the attention and exposure needed to have a reasonable shot at the nomination.”
“Trudi and I love you,” Inslee added in closing.
Now the question is: Will Inslee seek a third term as Governor of the State of Washington? We won’t have to wait very long to find out.
“I will have statements tomorrow about my intentions,” Inslee told Maddow in MSNBC’s New York studios, refusing to say anything more about his plans.
“I need to go back to the State of Washington,” he emphasized, when Maddow pressed him for an answer on whether he would run for governor.
He isn’t endorsing a rival candidate at this time, he said.
Several of Inslee’s rivals praised his candidacy.
“Thank you Jay Inslee for fighting every day to make sure that climate change remains a primary focus of this election. Climate change is real and it’s a crisis —and I will keep fighting alongside you to take bold action before it is too late,” tweeted Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading contender.
“Few leaders have done more to shine a light on the climate crisis than Jay Inslee,” tweeted Senator Kamala Harris of California. “His voice will be missed in this primary but I know he will continue this fight.”
MORE FROM NPI’S RUAIRI VAUGHAN: Governor Inslee’s campaign was laser-focused on the issue of climate damage, correctly arguing that maintaining a habitable earth has a tie-in with every other important issue.
Inslee had a detailed, ten-year plan to tackle the climate crisis, with bold measures including a transition to 100% clean energy, a $9 trillion investment plan, a new approach to foreign policy, and cutting the flow of fossil fuels.
During the debates Inslee didn’t get a whole lot of speaking time. He played second fiddle to better known candidates who the moderators urged to take each other on, like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. But when the discussion turned to what to do about the climate crisis, he owned the issue. In the July debates he stood out by calling out the former Vice President’s middle-of-the-road environmental plan for its lack of ambition, saying “the time is up. Our house is on fire!”
Even when other candidates tried to tout their own environmental policies, they felt the need to also praise Inslee’s comprehensive policies.
Inslee’s withdrawal will disappoint environmental organizations; he consistently topped Greenpeace’s 2020 climate ranking, and gained the love of the youth-led Sunrise Movement by battling with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the merits of a climate change-focused debate. The Movement’s executive director, Varshini Prakash, tweeted on Wednesday, “We’ll miss you in this race @JayInslee.”
Inslee’s withdrawal from the race sparked a shower of praise from all the other major candidates, who all noted his campaign’s impact on the national discourse. Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted that “the people of Washington are fortunate to have a Governor who fights to make their lives better now and to protect our planet in the future.”