Washington Gov. Jay Inslee snagged a round of media attention — and praise from climate experts and advocates — for his ambitious proposal to swiftly cut U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
But Inslee’s climate platform may not mean much if he remains stuck at the bottom of the pack of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.
At this point, he’s not even guaranteed a spot in the first presidential debate, set for the end of June.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has said up to 20 candidates will be picked for the debate, which will be staged over two nights with half the candidates appearing each night.
To qualify, candidates must hit 1 percent support in three polls, with only certain national and early primary and caucus state polls counting. On that front, Inslee has qualified, barely edging above the threshold in a few polls.
Inslee has yet to hit another DNC target to qualify for the debate: garnering 65,000 individual donors with at least 200 in 20 different states.
It’s possible he could qualify with just the polling results. But as the governor himself has been warning, there is a chance he could get left off the stage if he doesn’t get more donors, especially if the pack of Democratic candidates grows.
That opens up the possibility that some candidates who meet just one of the DNC criteria — like Inslee — could get left out of the first debate based on tiebreakers such as overall polling averages or fundraising.
After Bennet’s announcement, Inslee took to Twitter to plead for help, writing “to get to that stage, I need 65,000 individual donors … chip in today and get us across the finish line.” (His campaign has not disclosed how many donors it has.)
The New York Times reported this week that Inslee was among several candidates who have met the DNC debate requirements for polling, but not donations. The article lumped Inslee in with Reps. Tim Ryan and Eric Swalwell, all with polling averages of less than half of 1 percent, as “more at risk.”
On Friday, two more Democrats announced they’d hit the 65,000-donor mark. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., thanked his supporters in a video, saying he called to thank the donor, a woman from Minnesota, who put him over the top.
Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro also boasted of clearing the donor threshold in a tweet.
That leaves Inslee still working to catch up.
In an interview Thursday, Inslee said, “we’re not there yet” but that his campaign is “on a good trajectory … if we continue to grow at this pace we will reach that with some confidence.”