Gov. Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign has surpassed 65,000 individual donors from across the country, all but guaranteeing him a spot in the first Democratic debate in late June.
Jared Leopold, a campaign spokesman, confirmed Inslee reached the donor milestone Friday. He said the campaign has seen a “flurry” of donations since Inslee began rolling out details of his national climate agenda this month.
The donor milestone announced Friday came even as Inslee has generally struggled to gain traction in his 2020 bid. In a field of 23 Democratic candidates, he has regularly polled near the bottom of the pack, even as voters increasingly have listed the threat of climate change as a top issue of concern.
Inslee’s climate platform, which he has made the singular focus of his case for the Democratic nomination, includes a $9 trillion plan to transition the U.S. from fossil fuels to clean energy over a decade. It drew praise last week from “Green New Deal” champion U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who tweeted that Inslee’s plan was “the most serious + comprehensive” blueprint offered by a 2020 presidential candidate.
Campaigning in Las Vegas, Inslee announced the fundraising news to a Sunrise Movement rally led by young activists demanding action on climate.
“So we can now tell you that because I will be on the stage on the debates in June, climate change will be on the debates in June,” he said, according to a release from his campaign.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has set minimum donor and polling requirements for candidates to make the debate stage. Inslee earlier had cleared the fairly low polling bar, hitting 1% support in three qualifying polls.
He might have made the debate based on that result alone. Hitting the donor mark, which specifies 65,000 individuals with at least 200 of them from 20 states, gives him extra insurance.
POLITICO reported Inslee is the 13th Democratic candidate to “double qualify” for the debate by hitting both the donor and polling thresholds. The group includes better-known contenders such as former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
It also includes Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, self-help author Marianne Williamson and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
The first debate round will take place in Miami on June 26 and 27, with up to 20 candidates randomly divided into two groups, half appearing each night. A second debate is scheduled for July.
Inslee is running for the White House even while leaving open the option of bowing out and running for a third term as governor next year.