Jay Inslee, climate advocate who called Trump ‘white nationalist,’ drops out of 2020 presidential race

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday night he’s “withdrawing” from the 2020 presidential race, as the Democrat said “it’s become clear” he didn’t have a shot at winning the primary.

Inslee announced his decision on MSNBC, saying it’s become clear that he won’t win. He has kept the option of running for a third term as governor open throughout his presidential campaign but didn’t immediately say what his political plans were.

Inslee, 68, became the third Democrat to end his presidential bid after U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California pulled out of the primary last month followed by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.


While Inslee had qualified for the first two presidential debates this summer, he struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field and was falling short of the requirements needed to appear on two high-profile stages next month: the third DNC debate in Houston and a CNN town hall focused on climate change, Inslee’s key issue.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs the state operating budget, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee also signed a “sanctuary state” measure on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs the state operating budget, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee also signed a “sanctuary state” measure on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

He had recently hit one of the markers — 130,000 unique donors. But he had yet to reach 2 percent in any poll and would have needed to hit that level of support in four qualifying polls.

Other candidates are in a similar position. Author and Internet favorite Marianne Williamson seemingly hasn’t qualified in any polls, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., apparently has only qualified in one.

Inslee had sought to use the debates to boost his limited profile. At the July Democratic primary debate, Inslee declared to applause, “We can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House.”

Asked by Fox News after the debate if he had prepared the ‘white nationalist’ line in advance, Inslee explained “I thought about it driving over here this afternoon. And it’s true because the White House is such  symbol of the United States, of our unity, of the fact that diversity is a strength, not a vice, the fact that we’re a nation of immigrants. But he’s really despoiled it.”

Inslee also targeted the GOP,  arguing “it is sad not only that he (Trump) has done that but worse that the Republican Party has enabled it. They’re complicit in his racism and his white nationalism because they will not speak against it.”

Inslee is a former congressman and served as Democratic Governors Association chairman in 2018, when the party flipped seven Republican-held gubernatorial seats. He kicked off his campaign in March in Seattle, standing in front of a blue-and-green campaign logo with an arc of the Earth, declaring climate change the nation’s most pressing issue.

Inslee was a champion for the clean energy industry in Congress and wrote a book on the topic. And he’s pushed for state policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

On the day he announced his presidential bid, the state Senate passed a key piece of his legislative climate agenda, a measure that seeks to eliminate fossil fuels like natural gas and coal from the state’s electricity supply by 2045.

The measure, later passed by the House and signed by Inslee in May, made Washington the fourth in the nation to establish a mandate to provide carbon-free electricity by a targeted date.

A few additional states have enacted legislation related to clean energy requirements since May, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


In a video released Tuesday on Twitter, Inslee thanked supporters for helping him pass the 130,000 individual donor mark.

“Together we have put the climate crisis front and center in the 2020 race,” he said. “And thanks to you, every candidate knows they have to have a robust plan to defeat the climate crisis.”

Inslee didn’t say whether he planned to seek a third term as governor.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and The  Associated Press contributed to this report.

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