From early indications, Gov. Jay Inslee may be making a run at the presidency in 2020. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

From early indications, Gov. Jay Inslee may be making a run at the presidency in 2020. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Is Inslee about to prep for presidential run?

  • Wednesday, December 5, 2018 4:01pm
  • Opinion

Can a little known Thoroughbred from the Pacific Northwest capture the 2020 derby of Democratic presidential candidates?

It sure looks like Jay Inslee is saddling up to try.

He’s got a signature issue on which to run, climate change, and a political committee with which to raise seed money, Vision PAC. Not bad for a long shot.

It’s premature to dismiss outright the two-term governor’s chances of outflanking, outmaneuvering and outlasting what is expected to be a large field of political horses. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were far from front-runners two years before either of them wound up in the White House.

Next week will begin a critical phase in Inslee’s preparations and calculations.

He’ll be rolling out his proposed budget. It’ll be his road map for spending $50 billion in the next two years, advancing values he considers to be of most importance to the people of Washington and tackling problems he believes are of greatest magnitude facing the state.

It may be the most scrutinized budget proposal of his tenure. If he decides to run for president, priorities and policies embedded in it will garner a great deal of attention from a much wider audience than simply the political class populating the Capitol.

Look for Inslee to sprinkle a few bold ideas atop layers of cautious steps. He needs wins, real wins, ones which he can call his own if he endeavors onto the exploratory campaign trail.

He can miss on a couple things. But he cannot come up empty too many times next session, with his own Democratic Party controlling both chambers of the Legislature. That would be embarrassing and invite questions out loud about Inslee’s ability to carry out a legislative agenda with partisans in Congress.

His effectiveness on climate change already gets voiced around here. His track record in six years is long on preaching and short on accomplishment. There are more electric vehicles on the road and utilities are getting more power from alternative sources. But greenhouse gas emissions aren’t tumbling, and every attempt by Inslee to compel a reduction of carbon emissions through taxes, fees or executive order has failed.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal right now beyond this state’s borders. When it comes to this subject, he seems to be the most quotable elected leader west of the Mississippi not named Jerry Brown. And Brown isn’t running for president.

And besides, presidents aren’t elected because of their white papers and policies. They do it with pomp and promises, with which Inslee is well-endowed. He excels in his ability to extend the field of political possibility with his ideas. His critics may find them poppycock but to his supporters they are visionary.

Which leads to next week’s other notable moment. On Dec. 15, Inslee must stop raising money for a potential re-election campaign. The freeze on fundraising lasts for all elected state officials until the 2019 legislative session ends.

But he can raise money for his new federal PAC. It’s an opportunity to gauge whether there are many folks willing to invest in seeing him offer those ideas to the nation. Inslee told The Hill that he’d reveal his decision on a presidential run in April, giving him five months to stockpile dough.

Inslee already has enough gall. In the same article, he took a light dig at other potential candidates, saying, “I’m not a senator, I’m a governor. Governors govern, and senators orate.”

Sounds like this long shot is at the starting gate.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

More in Opinion

Male-only no more: The next House Speaker will be a woman

Frank Chopp’s reign as speaker of the state House of Representatives will… Continue reading

East Coast seaports ramping up capabilities | Brunell

While many eyes are fixed on trade talks between our country and… Continue reading

New year will bring new libraries, opportunities

On Jan. 16, I will celebrate my one-year anniversary as the King… Continue reading

Ruling strengthens habitat protection

A recent Washington Supreme Court ruling has strengthened a state law aimed… Continue reading

Boeing hopes to build upon record year | Brunell

Last year, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global study of aerospace manufacturing attractiveness found… Continue reading

Viadoom looms

Closure, demolition of

In 2019 less is more | Word from Waste Management

Believe it or not, January is here, and it is already time… Continue reading

New idea: Carbon fee for transportation, environmental work

State Sen. Steve Hobbs is hiking solo on what seems an impossible… Continue reading

Reporter newspaper group moving offices to Federal Way

Dear reader As 2018 comes to an end, your local media organization… Continue reading

Guns, helmets and soju proposals queued up for 2019 session

In an annual rite, lawmakers are already putting bills in the hopper they want to debate next year.

Dear Hannah: answers to your holiday recycling conundrums | WM

There’s no time like the holidays for pushing our homes to the… Continue reading

Good economic news sprinkled with caution | Brunell

The good news is Washington’s revenues continue to grow and projections for… Continue reading