Opinion: Jay Inslee may be out of presidential race, but his effect remains

Aug 23, 2019, 6:01 AM | Updated: 8:55 am

Jay Inslee...

Gov. Jay Inslee ended his bid for president late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

When Jay Inslee bowed out of the 2020 presidential race late Wednesday, many saw it as a no-brainer. The Washington state governor never managed to poll anywhere above 1 percent, and he was about to be on the outside looking in for the next round of debates. But even without gaudy poll numbers, his effect on the 2020 politic landscape remains.

 Republicans confident in 2020 governor’s race against Inslee

Throughout his brief run at the White House, Inslee was the only 2020 candidate to make a single issue the crux of their campaign, with climate change becoming his singular focus. He was called before Congress to testify on it. He consistently paced all candidates on his comprehensive climate change agenda. He even garnered praise from high-profile progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

All that didn’t do much for his polling, but Inslee’s presence on the national stage will likely be felt throughout 2020, and possibly beyond.

There are rumblings that should the Democrats win the White House, Inslee could score a position heading up the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Department of the Interior. Others have suggested carving out a specific position as “climate czar.” Meanwhile, we’re about to have not one, but two separate climate change town halls on CNN and MSNBC respectively. For the latter, it will involve a full-on two-day forum in Washington, D.C., where every single presidential candidate — including Republicans — has been invited to participate.

Jay Inslee pens NY Times climate change op-ed

And even though the DNC recently balked at sanctioning its own climate debate — despite a literal uproar from protesters — it was a wave of support largely spurred by Inslee’s proposal to hold a climate debate in the first place.

In the same way that Inslee’s run for president left a fingerprint on 2020, so too did his announcement that he would seek a third term as Washington’s governor. Now, Attorney General Bob Ferguson — who has made a habit of regularly suing the Trump Administration — will set aside his own gubernatorial ambitions to continue as AG. City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez in turn set aside her own hope to fill Ferguson’s no-longer-vacant role, leaving her on a Seattle council very much in flux.

All told, the shockwaves from a campaign that never managed to garner attention in polls still managed to impact what some have labeled the most important election of our lifetime.

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