Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination never caught fire with voters, but it still may pay dividends, both for his cause – addressing the threat of climate change – and for his political standing.
Before Inslee jumped into the crowd of Democratic candidates last winter, the climate-change issue was getting scant attention. Now, as he pulls out of the race, most of the remaining contenders have started to address the issue seriously, and it will be the focus of upcoming town hall events on CNN and MSNBC. Media pundits and rival candidates are giving much of the credit for that to Inslee.
Inslee, of course, is disappointed that he will not be in the middle of that discussion, but he comes back to his home state having run a credible campaign that raised his national political profile and expanded his base of donors. Both of those make him an even more formidable candidate as he pivots to a campaign for a third term as governor.
Three top Democrats who made clear they would love to have his job – Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz – all are declining a challenge to Inslee. And Republicans, though they have issued the usual boilerplate bravado about taking Inslee down, face a huge task in trying to defeat the incumbent governor of a Democratic-leaning state who will have a ton of campaign cash, heightened popularity and a booming state economy going for him.
A Republican has not won a race for governor in Washington since 1980, and it does not appear that 2020 offers much hope for a break in that chain of failures.
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