- Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, on Friday announced he’s running for president.
- Inslee, 66, was first elected to public office in 1989. He’s served in the Washington State Legislature and the US House of Representatives, and he was first elected Washington’s governor in 2012.
- Inslee’s campaign message will heavily revolve around environmental issues and solving climate change, the governor has said.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington on Friday announced he’s running for president in 2020.
While Inslee enters the race as a relative underdog with lower name recognition than other 2020 contenders, his combination of legislative and executive experience, as well as his progressive credentials, could help set him apart from the rest of the field.
Inslee, who has served as governor since 2012, has held some form of public office for most of the past 30 years. His path to the presidency relies on his billing himself as the “climate candidate,” having made reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy a priority as governor.
“I’m Jay Inslee and I’m running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority,” Inslee said in a video released Friday.
In the video, Inslee says he has “a lot” to say about climate change, and old clips show Inslee raising the issue through his years as a politician.
The video shows Inslee in the aftermath of wildfires as he says in a voiceover: “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last that can do something about it.”
“We went to the moon and created technologies that have changed the world. Our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change,” Inslee says in the video alongside images of flooding and clean energy production. Inslee advocates “100% clean energy” as a way to “transform” the economy and create jobs.
The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reported in early January that Inslee had begun building his support and fundraising base among climate activists across the US.
“For millions of Americans, climate change is no longer just a graph or a chart,” Inslee recently wrote on Twitter. “It’s floodwater invading their homes. It’s ash on their tongues from raging wildfires. From Washington State to Texas to Puerto Rico, we are living climate change right now.”
Inslee has also used his time as governor to champion causes such as criminal justice and immigration reform. His attorney general led a successful lawsuit challenging parts of the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors from majority-Muslim nations, and he recently issued pardons to more than 3,500 Washingtonians with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions.
After growing up in the Seattle area, Inslee attended law school and briefly worked as a prosecutor. He was first elected to public office in 1989 to represent eastern Washington in the Washington House of Representatives.
He was later elected to represent Washington’s 4th District in the House in 1992 but served just one term before being unseated in the Republican wave year of 1994.
Inslee spent the rest of the 1990s serving as a regional coordinator for the federal Department of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration before being elected to Congress again to represent Washington’s 1st Congressional District in 1998.
Inslee served six terms in the House before stepping down to successfully run for governor. He was elected to a second term in 2016. Inslee also served as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, helping oversee seven gubernatorial seats across the country flip from Republican to Democrat in 2018.