2019-08-22 18:09:321 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
The second Democratic nominee in a week has dropped out of the race for the 2020 presidential election. Last week it was former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and this week it's Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The Democratic nominee field is still really crowded. We're still into double digits, over 20, but some are beginning to be more realistic about their chances.
For Hickenlooper, though, it's simply moving on to something else. A former geologist who moved on to being a brewery owner, he next became mayor of Denver for eight years, then moved right into being the governor of Colorado, leaving office after serving another eight years, his limit as a governor, in January of this year.
But he's really only switching his campaign. Instead of running for president in such a crowded field, he will instead challenge Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020. Democrats see that seat as necessary if they want to flip the Senate to Democratic control.
Inslee has been in politics a little longer. He was a member of the Washington House for four years, then the U.S. House for another two. After a break of four years, he served another 13 years in the House. He's been the governor in Washington since 2013.
He was the presidential candidate who was most interested in addressing climate change. He referred to it as "the most urgent challenge of our time" and insisted it should be a top priority.
His plan required prosecuting environmental laws in a new Justice Department office and a promise to put at least 40 percent of federal investments in clean energy in communities heavily affected by income inequality, pollution, and other climate-related areas.
But he struggled in the crowded Democratic presidential candidate field with many names that were much bigger than his. His poll numbers were around 1 percent and even lower, with an aggregate of polls giving him just 0.2 percent.
"It's become clear that I'm not going to be carrying the ball, I'm not going to be president, so I'm withdrawing tonight from the race," he announced to Maddow.
Inslee told his supporters in a letter that he was not meeting the Democratic National Committee polling threshold to qualify for the fall debates, though he'd amassed 130,000 campaign donors.
"As a result, I don't believe we can compete for the attention and exposure needed to have a reasonable shot at the nomination," he wrote.
He felt a success, however, in his ability to put such an emphasis on climate change. "In recent presidential cycles, climate change got little attention from the candidates, the DNC, or the media," the told his supporters.
"We vowed to change that in a big way and succeeded. Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we've seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we've seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums in September."
While he wouldn't qualify for the fall debates, he also told Maddow he felt hemmed in by the design of the debates with candidates given such short time to express themselves on complex subjects.
Inslee didn't endorse any other candidate but said he'd support whoever becomes the nominee after the primaries.
"I think we're going to be just fine, ultimately," he said. "We just need to get to the business of unifying the party. I believe we will do that."
"Climate change is real, and it's a crisis — and I will keep fighting alongside you to take bold action before it is too late," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another Democratic candidate, tweeted to him after his announcement.
Fellow candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) followed suit: "Congratulations to @JayInslee on his impactful campaign to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of the national conversation," he tweeted.
"There is no more important issue facing humanity. Together we will work to pass a Green New Deal and create millions of jobs."
People close to Inslee have said he is likely to seek a third term as governor of Washington.
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