Gov. Jay Inslee should reconsider seeking a third term as governor after dropping his presidential bid.
Washington voters deserve the opportunity to choose from a variety of new political candidates who have patiently waited in the wings for his decision.
If Inslee relinquished the scepter, it would have a cascading effect on the political organization chart. The current state attorney general, lands commissioner and King County executive all would be gubernatorial candidates. That would spur healthy competition, new policy debates and a system refresh at multiple levels of government.
First elected as state representative in 1988, Inslee served two terms in the state House and nearly eight terms in Congress. He’s now in his second term as governor, and a third term would be a rare feat in this state.
Inslee deserves kudos for successfully using his presidential campaign to highlight the urgent need for federal action on climate change, and he’s made headway in this state on the issue.
Several presidential candidates praised this contribution to the dialogue, including Sen. Kamala Harris, who tweeted that “few leaders have done more to shine a light on the climate crisis” than Inslee.
At the same time, the Inslee campaign’s failure to muster more than 1 percent support in polls suggests that message needs to be recalibrated to build broader support. This was foreshadowed by Inslee’s failures to advance his most ambitious climate proposals in Washington state, including multiple attempts at a carbon tax.
Elevating the federal climate-change response must be a priority for the next president. To get there, candidates must propose solutions that are meaningful and reasonable beyond Seattle and the deep-green voter base.
Meanwhile, Washingtonians would benefit from a slate of new leaders, bringing fresh perspective to ongoing state concerns.
That list includes persistent and unconscionable failings of the state’s mental-health and prison systems. The next governor must play a bigger role in reducing homelessness, which is most visible in Seattle but is truly a state crisis. As McCleary school-funding reforms are fully implemented, the next governor must ensure that school outcomes improve for all students, and that means getting more kids through high school and truly ready for college or vocational training.
Based on his comments last week, when Inslee vowed to continue crusading against President Donald Trump from Olympia, it’s unclear whether Inslee is ready to step off the national stage and fully commit to clearing the backlog on the governor’s desk. His pledge to serve all four years if elected sounds convincing today, but if called, would he leave for a cabinet position to help shape national environmental policy?
Washington needs a chief executive less focused on the White House and more concerned with running the state efficiently, fixing its management problems, and sustaining growth and prosperity through growing economic headwinds.
Thank you, governor, for your public service and advocacy for a healthier planet. But now it’s time to give others a turn.