Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday he would be running for President of the United States, confirming what many political spectators had been expecting for months.
Inslee made the announcement in a campaign video that showed a montage of him talking about climate change throughout his career. Ever since rumors started swirling about Inslee making a run, it was thought he would run on a climate change platform. Friday’s announcement leaves no doubt about what his priorities will be.
“We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we’re the last that can do something about it,” Inslee said in the video. “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’s announcement comes after several other Democratic candidates have already entered the race, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. A poll released by Morning Consult on Feb. 26 showed of those who have declared, Sanders is the clear frontrunner with 27 percent of early primary and general primary voters supporting him. This is around 26 points higher than Harris in both polls.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has not announced whether he will run for the Democratic nomination, but results from both polls show if he were to announce, he would poll slightly higher than Sanders. However, Inslee has attracted hardly any interest from primary voters, with only 1 percent of early primary voters saying they would vote for him. This puts the governor on par with other contenders with little support like Tulsi Gabbard, Sherrod Brown and Michael Bloomberg. In total, there are 14 Democrats and one Republican — former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld — who are running in the 2020 election.
Even if he doesn’t win in primaries next year, the 68-year-old Inslee may be running to make climate change a priority for Democratic legislators. According to a Gallup poll from November, around three-quarters of Democratic voters said climate change was a priority, but when ranked against other concerns, only around 53 percent of all voters placed an emphasis on it. Climate change ranked much lower than health care, the economy and immigration as well as below trade and tariff policies.
Inslee’s fundraising political action committee, Vision PAC, had raised more than $242,000 in contributions as of the last filing from Dec. 31. Inslee’s record on his climate agenda in Washington state will likely be covered extensively over the next year and a half on the nomination campaign trail, which could be affected by current legislation moving through Olympia. This includes some $273 million in green energy spending he hopes will pass.
The state Senate approved SB 5116 on March 1, which would help move the state’s energy away from dirty energy. A companion bill is still in the House Appropriations Committee. In particular, the bills would end the use of coal-fired electricity and transition the state’s electricity supply to carbon neutral sources by 2045. It would additionally create a climate policy advisory committee to develop further recommendations for the Legislature.
If Inslee is successful in pushing green legislation, it could bolster his run for president and give him a policy to hang his hat on. While Inslee has been long on talk about the environment, attempts at carbon pricing have twice failed while he has been in office and carbon emissions in the state continue to rise.
In a news conference March 1 in Seattle, Inslee said Americans should embrace tackling climate change.
“We do not fear a challenge, we embrace it,” he said, according to a WNPA Olympia News Bureau report. “We do not fear the future, we build it.”