Jay Inslee Drops Out Of Presidential Race Few People Realized He Was In

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is the latest candidate to drop ou of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He won't be the last.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who entered the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination in March on a platform devoted to combatting global climate change, has dropped out of the race:

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who mounted a dogged presidential candidacy raising the alarm about climate change, dropped out of the 2020 race Wednesday after struggling to earn a place in the next Democratic primary debate.

Mr. Inslee plans to compete for a different office instead — the one he already holds. He intends to run for a third term as governor in 2020, according to a person with knowledge of his decision, which was first reported by The Associated Press.

While his presidential campaign had “advanced the dialogue” on climate change, Mr. Inslee said, he had concluded that the electoral obstacles before him were insurmountable.

“I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race,” Mr. Inslee said in an interview Wednesday night on MSNBC, where he first made the announcement.

Mr. Inslee said he had no immediate plans to endorse another Democrat in the primary, but said he hoped to advise the Democratic field on climate policy and help them “remove the climate denier from the White House.”

The announcement came only hours after Mr. Inslee released the sixth and final part of a climate plan that ballooned to about 200 pages.
“I’m going to help all the other candidates raise their level of ambition on this,” Mr. Inslee said on MSNBC, adding, “We need all of them to raise their game.”

Mr. Inslee, 68, entered the race in March with a vow that if he were elected president, he would make climate change the defining concern of his administration. His tailored much of his campaign travel to highlight environmental disasters and climate-driven adversity around the country, visiting flooded towns in Iowa and unveiling a “climate justice” plan outside an oil refinery in Detroit.

He attracted interest with a forceful performance in the July debates in Detroit, challenging former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for what Mr. Inslee described as inadequate proposals to curb environmental disaster.

“Mr. Vice President, your argument is not with me, it’s with science,” Mr. Inslee said.

Mr. Inslee said he had been encouraged by a groundswell of support for his campaign after that debate, but conceded it “broke a little late” to lift him into contention for the nomination.

In a crowded race full of high-wattage personalities and potentially history-making candidates, Mr. Inslee — an easygoing career politician, and one of more than a dozen white men competing for support in a diverse field — struggled to build support in the polls.

The Democratic National Committee rebuffed his pleas for a debate wholly given over to the issue of climate change, and Mr. Inslee was not on track to qualify for the next round of debates in September.

While Mr. Inslee had accumulated enough donors to meet one of the requirements for the September debates, his failure to earn enough support in the polls was all but certain to keep him off the stage. His polling struggles also kept him from being invited to a coming CNN town hall-style event on climate change, the very idea he had championed.

Aside from that one debate moment, which in all honesty was entirely forgettable to the point that I forgot about it, Inslee never really made any impression at all on the race and barely qualified for the second debate a month later. He also didn’t do very much to advance his signature issue, dealing with the causes and effects of global climate change, to the forefront of the race. To the extent that climate change was mentioned in the race, it was other candidates who were getting the credit for addressing it, thus making Inslee’s presence in the race rather superfluous.

The main reason for Inslee’s decision to drop out of the race, apparently, was the fact that it was unlikely that he was going to qualify for the third debate that will be broadcast by ABC in September. We won’t know until next Tuesday who has qualified and who has not, but I suspect that we’ll see other candidates who fall short to end their quixotic campaigns as well.

Instead of running for President, Inslee will run for a third term as Washington Governor, something that only one other Governor in the state’s history has managed to do successfully. When he ran for re-election in 2020, Inslee ended up beating his Republican opponent by more than 200,000 votes. By all accounts, he remains popular back home so he should be able to win again next year by a sufficiently large margin.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Climate Change, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    “Will this change the temperature of the race?” – Jacob Heilbrunn

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jay who?

  3. Tyrell says:

    This is the candidate who said that climate change was his big message. Yet few people have ever heard of him and the news media ignored him. There is a lesson in that somewhere.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:


    There is a lesson in that somewhere.

    That we are going to be extinct by the year 2222?

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, him. And you’re probably correct about 2222, too.

  6. Richard Gardner says:

    Jay Inslee is auditioning for Administrator of the EPA in 2021.

  7. Monala says: