After several months of flirting with the possibility of running, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has officially declared his candidacy for the 2020 presidential race. Addressing climate change is among his priorities.
“I’m running for president because I’m the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority,” Inslee said Feb. 28 in a campaign launch video. “We can do this … this is our moment.”
Considered to be a liberal outlier by many, Inslee is about as far as you can be from the White House — both geographically and politically. Despite asserting that there is a political niche he fills in a crowded Democratic presidential field, Inslee is a dark-horse candidate with only moderate name recognition beyond his home state.
Prior to becoming a governor, Inslee served in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he represented Washington’s 1st Congressional District from 1999 to 2013. In Congress, Inslee voted with the Democratic party line 91 percent of the time.
Here’s more on Inslee’s political and financial history:
- As has seemingly become tradition for Democratic candidates, Inslee won his 2016 gubernatorial race by winning overwhelmingly in the more populous areas of the state — and losing most of the state’s rural areas. He won the race by about 284,000 votes.
- In his 2016 gubernatorial race, Inslee received $9.9 million in campaign contributions, of which $336,000 came from political action committees.
- Inslee is one of the first Democratic presidential candidates to sign a pledge to refuse any financial contributions from fossil-fuel interests, joined by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
- As the governor of Washington, Inslee earned a salary of $170,000, in addition to a $43,000 congressional pension, according to income tax returns disclosed to the Seattle Times. These documents, in addition to returns shared prior to his 2012 race, indicate that he has no stated investments or stock holdings.
- Inslee gained support from left-wing Democrats by halting all state executions, welcoming more than 1,500 refugees to Washington in 2018 (the second-most of any state) and announcing plans to pardon about 3,500 people with marijuana-related misdemeanors.
- In 2013, Inslee signed a suite of tax breaks and tax incentives for a Boeing plant that would cost the state $8.7 billion over 27 years, only to see the company move thousands of high-paying jobs out of state only a few months later. Six years later, this is still the largest set of tax-based benefits to be offered to a company by an individual state.
- Inslee has been accepting financial donations for his re-election race for governor in 2020, but he cannot transfer these funds to his presidential campaign warchest. His gubernatorial campaign team has stockpiled more than $226,000, as of its most recent financial report, which goes through Jan. 31.
- In October, Inslee’s state campaign treasurer filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to start Vision PAC, which was the most overt foreshadowing of Inslee’s presidential ambitions. The PAC collected more than $242,000 in 2018, according to its latest filing.
- Vision PAC has received the maximum donation of $5,000 from a number of developers, environmental groups and lawyers, including David Zapolsky, general counsel for Amazon. Amazon announced plans for a fourth distribution center to be built this year in eastern Washington state, supplementing the ones in DuPont, Kent and Sumner, and its headquarters in Seattle. Another noteworthy contributor is Rick Steves, the renowned travel writer and television personality.
Sources: Center for Public Integrity reporting, The New York Times, Washington Secretary of State, Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of State, Federal Election Commission, The Seattle Times, The Atlantic, Medium, Ballotpedia, The Washington Post, Boeing, Amazon.com.
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