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Gov. Jay Inslee debates
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Jay Inslee in full-court press as clock ticks on chance to debate

Gov. Inslee during the first Democratic debates. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

While a handful of Democratic presidential candidates geared up for the first of two nights of debates on Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was in full-court press ahead of his appearance on the second night. Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick as he approaches a key deadline to stay in the campaign spotlight.

KIRO Radio hosts react to Gov. Inslee’s debate performance

While Inslee managed to gather the requisite 65,000 donors to qualify for the opening round of debates, he’s still well short of the required 130,000 needed to move on to the next round in September. As of publishing, eight total candidates have already qualified, most recently businessman Andrew Yang.

Inslee’s Senior Communications Strategist Jared Leopold told KING 5 that Inslee has around 90,000 donors, and that the campaign “feel(s) like we’re on the path to 130,000.”

Even if he does hit that threshold, though, the Washington governor still has an uphill battle to qualify. Unlike the first two debates, Inslee will need to gather a set amount of donors, and hit 2 percent support in four qualifying national or early-state polls released after the first debates back in June, through two weeks prior to the third debates on Sept. 12 and 13.

That’s one area Gov. Inslee’s campaign has long struggled to gain traction, having yet to clear even 1 percent in recent polling.

This has him hitting the campaign trail hard.

On Sunday, Inslee penned an op-ed in The New York Times, sending a message to voters eager to oust President Donald Trump by “attacking his failures on climate change.”

Later that day, Politico reported that a super PAC supporting Inslee’s campaign would be airing an attack ad on CNN during the debates, going in hard against frontrunners Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders.

The ad alleges those five candidates haven’t prioritized climate change in their respective campaigns.

“When your house is on fire, it’s obvious what’s your top priority — when the world’s on fire, there shouldn’t be any question either,” a narrator utters over burning buildings and flooded streets.

Jay Inslee pens NY Times climate change op-ed

Inslee went on to unveil the fifth part of his climate agenda on Monday, with the entire plan totaling upwards of 170 pages. The latest piece covers what he labeled “community climate justice,” to ensure that in the transition off of fossil fuels, “every American working family and community is included, and none are left behind.”

Inslee was also busy spreading the word in Detroit, the city hosting the two nights of debates.

“We chose our time meeting with people from Michigan instead of sitting in a room guzzling diet Cokes,” Leopold told KING 5.

The first night of Democratic debates took place Tuesday, July 30, and featured author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; former Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Rep. John Delaney; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Joining Inslee on Wednesday night was Sen. Michael Bennett; former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker; former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Sen. Kamala Harris; and businessman Andrew Yang.

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