SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, mixing calls for combating climate change and highlights of his liberal record with an aggressive critique of President Donald Trump.
The 68-year-old governor is launching his bid today in Seattle, following recent visits to the first primary state of New Hampshire and the early caucus state of Nevada.
"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 says in a video announcement ahead of a public announcement later today in Seattle.
Inslee is the first governor to join a Democratic primary that has been dominated by senators. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also are eyeing presidential campaigns.
It will not be easy for Inslee to garner attention with six prominent senators — Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — already running. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke also are expected to make highly anticipated 2020 announcements in the coming weeks.
Inslee acknowledges his underdog status but says his emphasis on combating climate change will set him apart.
"Climate change is a unifying issue," Inslee told The Associated Press in a recent interview, calling it a moral necessity and an economic opportunity.
He promises substantial investment in clean energy sources that reduce American dependence on fossil fuels.
"This issue is connected to virtually every other value system and thing we want to do in our communities," he said, mentioning environmental justice, infrastructure, clean energy, health care and national security.
Inslee argues that no presidential candidate has hinged a campaign as heavily on climate and environmental policy as he will. He may have a larger opening since billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer has passed on a national campaign, opting instead to continue his advocacy for impeaching and removing Trump from office. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who has spent millions of dollars on climate issues, may run.
Inslee has not specifically endorsed the Green New Deal introduced by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, though he said last month that he was "thrilled that this ... resolution has been brought forward" as a way to push for action.
He has argued separately for an issue-by-issue approach that adds up to sweeping change. He generally avoids promising specific reductions of carbon emissions under an absolute timeframe. The Green New Deal targets 2030 for the U.S. to become net carbon neutral.