Is Inslee an Outslee?


Jay Inslee

Presidential candidate Jay Inslee harmed his case by bad-mouthing Beto O’Rourke’s big bold carbon-reduction plan, when it might have been more gracious to welcome Beto-come-lately to the cause. Danny Westneat makes this point in his column, and adds that there is little sign of much of a campaign or much of an Inslee-for-President staff. That shouldn’t surprise Inslee-watchers. He has a very small inner circle in the governor’s office and doesn’t reach out to smart folks who could help him or challenge him. Not a good trait for a chief executive.

Here’s an update, a largely approving assessment of Inslee’s just-released climate plan by the highly respected journalist David Roberts.

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.


  1. I think Jay Inslee has a realistic pathway that could actually get him the nomination, but he’s not taking it.

    Almost all of the major Democratic candidates — Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren — are US Senators and consummate DC insiders at a time when, out in the hinterlands where the national media fears to tread, there is bipartisan disgust with the histrionic hyperpartisanship and gridlocked, inside baseball, political point scoring that characterizes what passes for governance in the Other Washington (to wit the current obsessive hyperventilation over the Mueller report, which has exactly zero impact on the lives of ordinary Americans). Mayor Pete is a possible exception, since you could make an argument that right now he also belongs in the first tier, but a lot of people are rightful skeptical that the 37 year old gay mayor of a small city can get the nomination, and regardless the main reason he surged is that he sounds fresh, and brings a much more positive, outsider perspective to national politics. (Right now I don’t see Beto getting much traction, and anyway until January he was in Congress too).

    So a real space exists for a more experienced, credible, untainted outsider with the right pitch to vault past the big name DC players who are all part of the widely despised status quo. Unfortunately, Jay isn’t running as that outsider. Instead, right now he’s Johnny One Note, the guy running a single issue cause campaign about climate change. As a general rule, activist crusaders and cause candidates don’t win the American presidency, even when it’s a cause people really care about.

    Now, to Inslee’s credit, he’s running the campaign he wants to run. It’s honest, and true to who he is. His fixation on trying to solve the challenge posed by climate change is sincere, and he comes across to voters and the media as genuine as a result. So he gets good press and most Dems have warm feelings for him, but few people are actually supporting him because voters (not wrongly) believe the president has to be more than a single-issue activist and actually care about and think about a wide range of important, pressing issues.

    So here’s Jay’s winning formula, the path not taken (yet, anyway): he should be running as an outsider to DC, not part of the mess there, a successful progressive governor and change agent who, unlike the Kamalas and Bernies and Joes, doesn’t just jibber jabber about progressive ideas, but rather delivers on them. Jay should be point out: “I raised the minimum wage, I imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, I funded our schools and raised teachers’ salaries, I saved thousands of well paid union jobs building Boeing jets, I wrote and balanced multi-billion dollar budgets, and I did all this exciting progressive stuff while building one of the most innovative, dynamic, diverse and successful state economies in the county! I’m the one who will break the gridlock and improve the tone in Washington. I’m the one who can fix our economy and restore our democracy. All of us running have strong progressive values, but I’m the one with the know how and the executive experience to get results and make change.”

    He’s a talented retail politician, and I could see him resonating in Iowa with a pitch like that.

  2. Since moving here from “the other Washington “ two years ago, I’ve been a bit surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for the governor’s presidential quest.. When I ask long-time residents about Inslee, they usually hesitate for a second, subtlety acknowledging that ok, he’s a good guy and they kind of like him as governor, and then they proceed to eviscerate him as a presidential non starter.
    But look back at Jimmy Carter and how a little known governor of Georgia won the White House at a time when Nixon and Watergate engendered a strong rejection of the political establishment. There was a thirst for an outsider, someone moral and upright. While Carter definitely had those qualities, they weren’t enough to make him a successful president (although those same qualities of character have made him an impressive past president).


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