OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced he is seeking the presidency of the United States in a video focused on climate change posted on his Facebook page early Friday.
Inslee, a Bainbridge Island resident, joins 14 other Democrats and one Republican, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Inslee is the only Democrat with gubernatorial experience to enter the race so far.
“We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last that can do something about it,” he said in the video, which featured a cameo from science activist Bill Nye. “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.”
Inslee held a news conference at A&R Solar in Seattle to launch his campaign. He was introduced by Swinomish Tribal Chairman and Native American activist Brian Cladoosby, former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Seattle City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda. Inslee introduced Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mount Everest during his speech. Whittaker was born and raised in Seattle.
“Jim knows that we can do big, challenging things,” Inslee said. “And I want to thank you, Jim, for now being involved in a great climb for the next couple years.”
Inslee said Americans don’t fear the world, they lead it.
“We do not fear a challenge, we embrace it,” said Inslee. “We do not fear the future, we build it.”
Inslee made climate change a priority at his State of the State address and for this year’s legislative session in Olympia. In addition to tackling climate change and expanding clean energy in Washington state, his Southern Resident Orca Task Force introduced several measures aimed at protecting Puget Sound’s endangered orca population.
In 2007 Inslee compared climate change to the space race in a book he co-authored with Bracken Hendricks titled “Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy.” He has talked about addressing climate change since his time as a Congressman before he became Governor.
“We have one chance to defeat climate change, and it is right now,” Inslee said. “It is my belief that when you have one chance in life, you take it.”
Other proposals Inslee introduced into the Legislature this year include reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2035, 100 percent clean energy by 2035, reducing the carbon intensity of fuels by 20 percent by 2035 and opening shellfish growing areas that are closed due to pollution.
“I will be the first candidate in history to say this has to be the number one priority in the United States,” he said in an interview. “This has to be the paramount duty of the United States.”
Sean Harding is a reporter with the WNPA Olympia News Bureau.