news·4 min read

Jay Inslee’s pitch for 2020

May 30, 2019

Editor's note: Inslee dropped out of the race on Aug. 21, 2019.

The Who

Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential agenda: climate change policy with a side of climate change policy.

The Resume

Inslee is one of nearly two dozen people competing for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. He’s got a long political resume. He started out in the Washington legislature in the late ‘80s and went on to serve as House rep in Congress for seven terms, before leaving for the governor’s mansion. Oh, he also likes to paint nature scenes. And write books for his grandkids in his spare time. But back to the resume:

  • As a House rep in the ‘90s, he voted to ban assault weapons, which he says likely cost him his re-election (he was re-elected in a different district a few years later).

  • As governor, he’s supported a number of progressive reforms. That includes banning bump stocks, raising the minimum wage, and adopting paid family leave.

  • He backed Washington’s court action against President Trump’s travel ban. He recently signed off on a public health insurance option, making the state the first to adopt this kind of plan. And signed a bill that will move Washington to 100% clean energy by 2045.

The Elephant in the Room

There’s only roughly a million people running for president this year. And Inslee is not a candidate who people, you know, know. He has an iffy track record when it comes to actually getting some of his climate ideas passed. Plus there’s evidence that centering his entire campaign on one issue may not resonate with voters.

The 2020 Policies

On climate’s only the basis for his entire campaign. He’s unveiled multiple plans, including one that’s 38 pages long. Not a typo. The gist: create 8 million jobs in the next decade focused on green energy. As in doing things like building solar panels and electric cars. Also shut down coal-fired power plants by 2030, and have all new cars sold in the US doing the electric slide.

On everything else...he’s got some ideas. But ultimately, remember climate change?

On reproductive president, he’d make a woman’s right to choose an “enforced civil right.”

On gun control...he doesn’t want to arm teachers and thinks schools need more counselors on hand to help students deal with any “psychological and emotional pressures.”

On student debt...he wants it to go Washington’s way or the highway. As governor, he recently signed off on a law that will give free tuition at public schools for families making about $50,000 a year or less.


Inslee is not here for the single-issue criticism. He says addressing climate change inherently means also addressing the economy, health care, and national security. His extensive climate plan has received praise for its actionable policy and fast timeline. Time will tell whether it’s enough for his campaign to break through the crowd.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.