Washington Governor Jay Inslee enters presidential race

The Democrat calls climate change ‘the most urgent challenge of our time.’

 

This article was originally published by and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee joined the Democratic primary frenzy on Friday, launching a campaign with climate change as its central focus, an issue that conventional political wisdom, pointing to , dismisses as a lower priority for voters than healthcare and stagnating wages. 

The race now has a candidate who says he “will make defeating climate change our nation’s No. 1 priority.”

Gov. Inslee in October 2018, during a meeting with British Columbia Premier John Horgan. The two signed an agreement to act jointly to protect the environment and fight climate change, among other objectives.

“We have an opportunity to transform our economy and run on 100 percent clean energy that will bring millions of good-paying jobs to every community across America, create a more just future for everyone,” Inslee said in his campaign video announcement on Friday. Later in Seattle, with his wife, children, and the grandchildren he regularly calls his inspiration in the climate fight, Inslee will hold a press conference at a solar installation company. 

Inslee plans to visit Iowa, Nevada, and California for a Climate Mission Tour, where he will echo the message he first began testing last month in two roundtables with college students in New Hampshire.

In more than two decades in politics, the congressman turned-two-term governor has cultivated a reputation as a serious thinker on how to address climate change. A lifelong environmentalist, Inslee set out an early vision for a Green New Deal-type fight against climate change, before the branding caught on. He co-wrote a book called  in 2007 about the transformative power of a clean energy economy. Under Inslee, Washington state has taken a lead with other states to fight the Trump administration’s climate denial, joining the U.S. Climate Alliance of states that remain committed to the 2015 targets set in Paris. 

But Inslee has waged and lost his share of political fights, including the nation’s first state-wide carbon tax ballot initiative centered around environmental justice. Voters rejected the proposal last year, after industry opponents raised more than . The legislature, controlled by Democrats by a razor-thin margin, failed to pass a similar bill last year. This year, the legislature, which picked up additional blue seats last cycle, is considering a  in an effort to reverse the troubling trend from 2012 to 2015, during which Washington’s carbon emissions climbed .

The 67-year-old Washington native is far from the only candidate to consider climate as a top priority, especially as Democrats clamor to get on the Green New Deal bandwagon. But unlike most others, he has a lengthy track record of trying to raise the profile of the fight. Over a decade before the Green New Deal burst onto the scene, Inslee attempted to sound the alarm of a warming planet, comparing the need mobilize resources to fight climate change to the Apollo Mission to the moon. As one of few governors in the race, and the recent chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, Inslee plans on showcasing his record of implementing programs, not just sponsoring messaging bills in the Senate.

“If there are three tiers, he’s in the third right now,” Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh says. “A lot of people don’t know him. A lot of people aren’t familiar with him. He’s certainly doing a lot of cable TV to try to get better known.”

Climate activists hope Inslee’s entry helps sharpen the debate that shows Democrats take the problem of runaway warming as serious as politicians claim in stump speeches.

“It’s hard for people to personalize it in the same way people feel their health care bill or rent or job,” Julian Brave NoiseCat, a policy analyst for 350.org, says. “I’m really curious how someone like Governor Inslee will message climate and the Green New Deal. How is he planning to take on this pretty significant communications challenge?”

During an interview with Mother Jones in Washington, DC, where he was attending the Democratic Governor’s Association meetings last weekend, Inslee said he was optimistic that his message will resonate with younger voters, noting the calls he’s made with freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and meetings his staff has had with Sunrise Movement activists in recent weeks.

“I’ve never run on popularity,” Inslee said, pointing to positions he has taken throughout his career in politics, especially in Congress. “I voted against the Iraq War. I voted for the assault weapons ban in a red small agricultural district. I voted for a lot of things that were right that happened not to be popular at the moment.”

Rebecca Leber is a reporter in Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau, where she covers environmental politics and policy. Email NewTowncarShare News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • in Southwest Colorado. $60K plus costs.
  • with six+ years of experience, broad knowledge of home and facilities maintenance. 207-805-4157, https://spark.adobe.com/page/8R7Ag/
  • Seeking full-time experienced farmer on 52-acre organic farm Union, OR. [email protected]
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Government Affairs Manager that is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to support...
  • Metal roofing & siding, thru-fastened & seam profiles. Stronger, more attractive and longer lasting than any other panel on the market. 970-275-4070.
  • The Central Colorado Conservancy, a nationally accredited and state certified land trust, is seeking an innovative and dynamic Executive Director to guide the Conservancy into...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time, Lake Tahoe West Senior Project Lead. Position is responsible for working with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to...
  • Forever Our Rivers Foundation seeks a driven and creative individual to lead this national movement for river health. Deadline 6/14/19.
  • We are looking for an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry, specifically focused on fighting fossil fuel expansion...
  • 7/12-7/14/19 in Taos, NM. With over 21 workshops and keynote speaker, poet Arthur Sze.
  • Badlands Conservation Alliance is seeking an Executive Director. For job description visit https://www.badlandsconservationalliance.org/hiring.
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • Clean off, cool off & drink. Multiple spray patterns. Better than you imagine. Try it.
  • Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...