SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his bid for a third term as governor Thursday, saying that while it was an honor to run for president, he wants to continue his work leading the state.
“We told the Washington story around the United States,” he told reporters in Seattle following a news conference at Planned Parenthood regarding the Title X family planning program. “Being able to tell that story led to some good things, even though I won’t be the nominee, including the fact that we have elevated the climate change crisis to where it belongs. I’m very proud to have served for that purpose.”
Inslee had sent an email to supporters earlier in the day detailing his plans following his announcement Wednesday night that he was ending his 2020 presidential bid after nearly six months.
He had made fighting climate change the central theme of his campaign and said he was confident that Democrats would select a nominee who would champion climate change issues.
When asked if he would consider a Cabinet position like head of the Environmental Protection Agency if it were offered, he said no.
“There was one position in Washington, D.C., that I thought I was interested in, and I will not be serving in that capacity,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to serving as governor if people give me this option.”
Governors in Washington state aren’t subject to term limits, though most haven’t served more than two terms. The last three-term governor in Washington was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.
Three Democrats had already signaled they would run for governor, but only if Inslee didn’t: Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and King County Executive Dow Constantine. The political dominos continued with Democratic candidates lining up to run for attorney general and lands commissioner if Ferguson and Franz end up not seeking reelection to their posts. All have said they wouldn’t challenge incumbents if Inslee ran for a third term.
A few Republicans have already announced plans to run for governor, including Phil Fortunato, a state senator, and Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, in eastern Washington. A Republican has not occupied the governor’s office in more than three decades.
State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich said that he thinks Inslee could be vulnerable in a reelection bid.
“Getting elected to a third term is a tough task,” he said. “And doing so on the heels of a failed presidential campaign where you sent a message to voters that you want a different job, that doesn’t sit very well.”