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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee jumped into the 2020 White House race Friday — and his longshot candidacy will test a big question: whether there's a political opening for someone who puts climate change at the heart of their campaign.

Why it matters: Global warming has long been a second-tier topic in national elections, but Inslee's candidacy could change that if he somehow gains traction in the crowded Democratic field or pushes higher-profile candidates to emphasize climate topics even more.

  • "We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last who can do something about it," Inslee said in a launch video this morning that emphasizes jobs and his decades of work on the topic.
"He is going to put climate as the clear number one issue. No major party candidate in American history has done that. The times demand that climate is the top priority because if it’s not, it’s not going to get done."
— Jared Leopold, a senior campaign adviser to Inslee

Details: Inslee hasn't announced a lot of policy specifics yet, though one noteworthy thing is that he wants to kill the Senate filibuster. According to his campaign, Inslee's "climate mission" will rest on 4 big themes:

  • Accelerate a transition to "100% clean energy" and net-zero emissions with plans targeting electricity, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture.
  • Creating "millions of good-paying jobs over the next 10 years" via investments in modern infrastructure and much more.
  • "Fighting for environmental justice and economic inclusion," including work with low-income, indigenous and communities of color.
  • "Ending fossil fuel giveaways" and moving away from fossil fuels while "protecting workers and diversifying the local economies that depend on them today."

The state of play: The case for Inslee's climate-focused candidacy is stronger than ever in some ways.

  • That's partly thanks to a spate of recent reports — notably a major UN scientific study last fall — on the risks of global warming, and partly because of aggressive White House efforts to dismantle federal climate policies.
  • Also, other than perhaps Bernie Sanders, none of the candidates has made global warming and clean energy a focus of their careers like Inslee, who served in the House from the 1990s until running for governor in 2012.

Yes, but: Democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod said a campaign built around climate change may not create a wide enough "lane" and constituency.

  • "That’s not necessarily a reliable enough path because every Democratic candidate who is seriously running and is a top-tier contender is going to address climate change," said Elrod, who headed strategic communications for Hillary Clinton's 2016 run.
  • Several high-profile candidates have been talking about the issue on the stump amid energy on the left around the Green New Deal, which is already backed by a half-dozen candidates.
  • "The urgency of the moment and banging on that drum I think is critically important right now," Elizabeth Warren recently told the popular liberal podcast Pod Save America.

Go deeper:

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  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."

Trump's legacy is shaped by his narrow interests

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Trump's policy legacy is as much defined by what he's ignored as by what he's involved himself in.

The big picture: Over the past four years, Trump has interested himself in only a slim slice of the government he leads. Outside of trade, immigration, a personal war against the "Deep State" and the hot foreign policy issue of the moment, Trump has left many of his Cabinet secretaries to work without interruption, let alone direction.

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AI and automation are receiving a boost during the coronavirus pandemic that in the short term is creating a new hybrid workforce rather than destroying jobs outright.

The big picture: While the forces of automation and AI will eliminate some jobs and create some new ones, the vast majority will remain but be dramatically changed. The challenge for employers will be ensuring workforces are ready for the effects of technology.