Inslee Enters 2020 Race, Will Focus on Climate Change

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday he’s running for president, saying he will emphasize attempts to combat climate change during his bid for the Democratic nomination.

“I’m Jay Inslee and I’m running for president because I’m the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s Number 1 priority, ” the 68-year-old governor said in a video announcing his candidacy.

“We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we’re the last that can do something about it. Our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change.”

A book Inslee wrote on the topic some 10 years ago, “Apollo’s Fire, ” argued for a clean energy program on the scale of President John F. Kennedy’s moon shot. He’s still pushing that message.

In the video released Friday, Inslee said combating climate change would create job growth.

“We have an opportunity to transform our economy, run on 100 percent clean energy,” he said. “That will bring millions of jobs to every community across America, and create a more just future for everyone.”

VIDEO: This is our moment, our climate, our mission — together, we can defeat climate change. That’s why I’m running for president. Join #OurClimateMoment today

Inslee has reason to be at least mildly optimistic. An NBC poll from December found that 66 percent of Americans now say action is warranted on climate change, up from 51 percent two decades ago.

But it isn’t clear that voters will make the environment a top priority in the 2020 election. Inslee lost a 2018 ballot initiative in Washington that would have imposed the nation’s first carbon fee on large polluters.

His focus on climate change will not be Inslee’s only appeal for primary voters, however. As chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, he helped his party turn seven GOP states blue in the 2018 midterms.

Inslee has also gotten publicity for being a vocal critic of Donald Trump. Washington state brought suit against Trump’s initial travel ban, and won an injunction. He was also critical of President George W. Bush’s Iraq war when he served in Congress.

Inslee’s political action committee has raised $112,500, according to a November filing with the Federal Election Committee. That is a very modest amount for a presidential candidate, but it could help him finance his campaign in early primary states like Iowa, where he visited twice in 2018, and New Hampshire, The Seattle Times reported.

There will be a great deal of competition for the Washington governor in the 2020 nominating process, and he is not considered a top-tier candidate by any means.

“You’re coming from Washington state, and that’s a big liability,” Ron Dotzauer, a Seattle-based political strategist told “You can’t get farther away from the epicenter of politics, except if you’re in Alaska or Hawaii.”

If things don’t go his way, Inslee could drop out by May, in time to run for a third term as Washington’s top politician. “I see no reason to take that off as an option,” the governor said.