Washington governor Jay Inslee, a fierce climate change activist and former congressman, is joining the 2020 presidential race as a growing pool of Democratic candidates seek to unseat Donald Trump in the White House.
Unlike the slate of progressives who have announced their bids before him and rejected the help of Super PACs, the governor will reportedly receive aid along the campaign trail from Act Now On Climate, a group spearheaded by Corey Platt, the former political director of the Democratic Governor’s Association.
“He’ll be the person to say [climate change] is the number one priority,” Mr Platt told HuffPost about the Super PAC’s support for Mr Inslee. “We’re here to amplify and support his candidacy.”
The 68-year-old governor is launching his bid Friday in Seattle, following recent visits to the first primary state of New Hampshire and the early caucus state of Nevada. Mr Inslee governed Washington as an unabashed liberal, promoting clean energy, gay rights, abortion rights, environmental preservation, tighter gun restrictions and more spending for education and job training. Most recently, he's called for a state-based public option health insurance plan in Washington that he calls a “step toward universal health care.”
“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,” Mr Inslee says in a video announcement ahead of a public announcement later Friday in Seattle.
It will not be easy for the governor 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 Representative Beto O'Rourke also are expected to make highly anticipated 2020 announcements in the coming weeks.
Mr Inslee acknowledges his underdog status but says his emphasis on combating climate change will set him apart.
“Climate change is a unifying issue,” he 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.
Mr Inslee has not specifically endorsed the Green New Deal introduced by New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. He instead advocates for a more piecemeal approach he describes as ambitious but attainable, and he avoids promising specific reductions of carbon emissions under an absolute timeframe. The Green New Deal targets 2030 for the US to become net carbon neutral.
The Associated Press contributed to this report