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DNC tells Inslee they will not host a climate-focused primary debate

Washington Governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee denied Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's request for a 2020 presidential primary focusing solely on climate change on Wednesday.

What he's saying: Inslee, in a statement said: “Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate ... they explained that if we participated in anyone else's climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates.”

  • He went on Twitter, adding: "The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field who want to debate the existential crisis of our time."

What the DNC is saying:

"[The] goal is to provide a platform for candidates to have a vigorous discussion on ideas and solutions on the many issues that voters care about, including the economy, climate change, and health care. While climate change is at the top of our list, the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters."
— DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa

The other side: "This move is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of activists and all of the candidates calling on the DNC to hold a dedicated climate debate," wrote CREDO Action Campaign in response to the DNC's decision.

The backdrop: Inslee, who is running a climate-focused campaign, launched a petition in April asking for the DNC to consider his idea. Even then, the DNC was noncommittal.

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Amy Harder: This shows that while climate change has risen in political prominence, there are limits to what the broader party is willing to do in response to the more liberal Democrats

Other candidates who support a climate-change debate:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
  • Former Obama cabinet official Julián Castro

Go deeper: Jay Inslee on the issues, in under 500 words

Editor's note: The attribution for the DNC's statement was corrected.