Updated Aug 22, 2019

Jay Inslee withdraws from 2020 presidential race

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with reporters at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10 in Des Moines. Photo: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

Why it matters: Inslee was a longshot for the Democratic nomination, but his focus on climate change has helped elevate the issue to a degree unseen in prior cycles. He was the driving force behind what’s now a wider — though still unsuccessful — campaign for the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate on the topic. Inslee hit the donor threshold to qualify for September's Democratic debates, but did not meet the minimum polling requirements.

It's become clear that I'm not going to be carrying the ball, I'm not going to be the president so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.

Details: Inslee told Maddow he would not endorse any particular candidate and that he would support whomever the Democratic presidential candidate is.

What's next? Inslee would not be drawn on his future plans, telling Maddow he would make an announcement Thursday. AP reports that he will announce in an email to supporters Thursday that he will seek a third term as governor, citing 2 people close him.

The big picture: Inslee is the third Democrat to end his presidential bid after Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

  • Inslee quit ahead of CNN's climate change town hall in September. He said during an interview with Vox on Tuesday he thinks his team has "raised the bar and driven the other candidates to be more ambitious" on the issue of climate change.
"We forced the debate onto the stage; it wasn’t there when we started. So now you have the Democratic Party at least having a vote on whether they’re going to have a [climate] debate, and you have two major networks fostering debate. I don’t see evidence that that would have happened without us."
— Inslee interview with Vox

What they're saying: Several Democratic presidential candidates tweeted tributes to Inslee's achievement in making climate change a key focus of the race, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Jay Inslee on the issues, in under 500 words

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Editor's note: Inslee dropped out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination on Aug. 21, 2019. Below is our original article on his candidacy.

Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, is a Democrat who has made climate change the key issue of his 2020 campaign. He released a $9 trillion climate plan in May largely centered on greening the economy with job incentives.

Key facts about Jay Inslee:
  • Current position: Governor of Washington — 9 years served. Chair of Democratic Governors Association.
  • Age: 68
  • Born: Seattle, Washington
  • Undergraduate: Stanford University, University of Washington
  • Date candidacy announced: March 1, 2019
  • Previous roles: House of Representatives (1993-1995, 1999-2012), Washington House of Representatives (1989-1993)
Jay Inslee's stance on key issues:
  • Climate change: Inslee wants to wean the U.S. off its reliance on coal, oil and gas. In May, Inslee revealed his "100 Percent Clean Energy for American Plan," a $9 trillion collection of climate-change policies including the closure of coal-fired power plants within 10 years; requirement that all electricity be "carbon neutral" by 2030; all new cars and light trucks be "emissions-free by 2030"; and a "Zero-Carbon Building Standard," by 2030.
  • Green New Deal: Inslee emphasizes the private sector over some GND advocates, although he praises the concept. Inslee told the Washington Post he "welcomes" the GND, but says it's not endorsable since it's not yet an actual policy.
  • Capitalism: Inslee signals he's closer to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's reformist view of capitalism than the democratic socialism of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Gun control: In 1994, Inslee voted in favor of federal legislation banning the manufacture, sale and possession of combat-style assault weapons, a stance that likely cost him his House seat in 1995, CNBC reports. He said his state stands up for "common sense gun safety reforms."
  • Senate filibuster: "I don't believe you can really be serious about saying you are going to defeat climate change unless you realize that we need to have the filibuster go the way of history,” Inslee said.
  • Vaccinations: Declared a state of emergency in January after the anti-vaccination wave contributed to cases of measles, causing what he called a "public disaster."
  • Immigration: Proposes "restoring foreign assistance aid to Northern Triangle countries" to "achiev[e] historic levels of refugee admissions to the United States" by "exceeding the target of 110,000 refugee resettlements" set by the Obama administration. Also wants to stop Trump's border wall and end the Muslim travel ban.
  • Education: Would use education to help combat climate change, boostin efforts in STEM in hopes of reaching clean energy goals, according to The Hill.
  • Environment: Signed a bill into law that makes Washington the first in state to legalize human composting.
Key criticisms of Jay Inslee:
  • Anonymity: Inslee isn't a nationally recognized name in a very crowded Democratic field.
  • Age: A poll found 43 of Iowa's 76 Democratic county party leaders say they want a young candidate to be their nominee.
1 fun thing about Jay Inslee:
  • In 2009, Inslee played in a series of basketball games at the White House against President Obama and members of his administration.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 candidates

Keep ReadingArrowUpdated Aug 22, 2019

Jay Inslee seeks third term as Washington governor

Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Just 1 day after dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that he will be seeking a third term as Washington's governor.

What he's saying: "I want to continue to stand with you in opposing Donald Trump and rejecting his hurtful and divisive agenda, while strengthening and enhancing Washington state's role as a progressive beacon for the nation," Inslee wrote in a statement.

Go deeperArrowAug 22, 2019

Democratic National Committee votes down climate-focused debate

Photo: Photo: Chris Conway/Getty

Democratic National Committee officials voted 17-8 on Thursday against a proposal to host a primary debate focused exclusively on climate change, according to HuffPost.

The big picture: Environmental activists, including the youth-led Sunrise Movement, have been pressuring the DNC for months to host a first-of-its-kind debate on the climate crisis. Top officials say it would open the floodgates to other single-issue debates on topics like health care and abortion rights, and also worry that it could harm the eventual nominee in the general election by alienating voters in states that rely on the fossil fuel industry, per HuffPost.

Go deeperArrowAug 22, 2019