SEATTLE – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will seek the presidential nomination in 2020, adding to the growing field of Democrats seeking to challenge President Donald Trump.
“We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last who can do something about it. We went to the moon and created technologies that have changed the world. Our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time — defeating climate change,” Inslee said in a video Friday announcing the run. “I’m running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority.”
Inslee plans on making global warming the central issue of his campaign. The so-called “climate candidate” recently said “we’ve never had a president who’s said this is the number one priority of my administration.”
“We have one administration left … to restrain this monster,” Inslee told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Monday. “When your house is on fire, you go grab the bucket and you fight the fire, even though your lawn needs mowing and you haven’t answered the mail. That’s the situation we’re in. This is a one-time chance.”
However, Inslee may face an uphill battle in a competitive Democratic primary field and among an electorate that consistently ranks climate change as a low priority. For example, a Pew Research Center poll from January found climate change ranked 17th of 18 on a list of issues voters want as a top priority for Congress and Trump this year.
Inslee is not the only 2020 hopeful to plan a climate-focused campaign. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, should he run in 2020, plans to focus his campaign on global warming and guns. Though, Inslee recently told The Washington Post he’d be willing to decode a national emergency over global warming.
Inslee said he’d be willing to declare a climate emergency should Congress fail to pass global warming legislation and the U.S. Supreme Court uphold Trump’s emergency declaration for the southern border.
“But if the rules change and the circumstances change, we’re going to play by whatever rules exist to deal with this existential crisis,” Inslee told The Post in an interview. “So if the possibility exists, we’ll say yes.”
However, Inslee no longer backs carbon taxes or cap-and-trade. Part of the reason, he told The Post, is over the “yellow vest” protests that continue to rock France, which were sparked by carbon taxes on fuel. His long record of defeat on the issue is another reason.
Washington voters rejected a carbon tax ballot initiative in 2018 that was backed by Inslee. Likewise, Inslee failed to get a carbon tax proposal through the state legislature his effort to cap carbon dioxide emissions through executive action is tied up in the courts.
“It shows you how ineffective he’s been even in a state like Washington,” Todd Myers, environmental policy director at the free-market Washington Policy Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a recent interview.
Inslee told The Post he’s “proposing alternatives” that would “achieve the same carbon reduction as a carbon charge.”
“Look, we’ve got a suite of policies that are available to us, not just carbon pricing,” Inslee said. “In my state, we’ve got five bills in the legislature that are all moving forward with the goal of 100 percent clean energy.”
“We’ve learned that we have multiple tools, not just one. There are a lot of different ways to skin this cat,” he told The Post.
Inslee also did not endorse the Green New Deal. Inslee said he “welcomes” the resolution, championed by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but said he would not endorse it since it’s not a policy document.
“This was not a policy document. It was really not meant to be,” Inslee told The Post. “So now people like me will issue policies to actually put meat on the bones.”