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Governor Jay Inslee on Why He’s Dropping Out of the 2020 White House Race

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The Democratic field no longer has a climate candidate. Washington governor Jay Inslee, who made global warming the centerpiece of his long-shot campaign for the presidency, announced Wednesday evening that he was dropping out of the race, facing the prospect that CNN might stage a forum on climate change for Democratic candidates for which Inslee himself would fail to qualify.

The governor didn’t need to run on climate change alone — he’s a well-liked governor in a thriving state, with an enviable liberal record on job creation, economic growth, minimum-wage increases, and family-leave policy that seemed, in theory at least, to offer a powerful case study in how Democrats could move forward on climate change while accomplishing everything else they might want. But while his six-part climate policy may become the road map for a future Democratic administration, it isn’t going to be his, and, at the moment when Democratic voters tell pollsters they are unprecedentedly concerned about the environment (naming climate change as a top-tier issue in many state polls), they aren’t going to be nominating the one candidate who really prioritized it. Earlier Wednesday, we talked to him about what happened.

First, I just wanted to congratulate you on the incredibly principled and important campaign you’ve run. It’s so important that I’m personally pretty distressed and disheartened that it’s ending. How are you feeling?

Well, I’m not going to end up in the White House, which was the goal. But there have been several things that have been accomplished. Number one, we made a governing document on clean energy and the environment for the United States. Now that document is going to be open sourced, and I’m going to call on the other candidates to be more committed to the issue. I think you saw on the campaign trail that other candidates had to respond to our clarity and vision, and I think it was an accomplishment to get the other candidates to raise their ambitions. Going forward, I’ll be just as vocal about that.

I think we have set the stage for a genuine debate about climate change, in one form or another. We have the two forums coming up, and I’m hoping that there will be a proper debate, too — that will be voted on soon, and it was not going to take place otherwise. And I think it was significant achievement to get this on the country’s radar screen — that was an accomplishment, too.

But the most satisfying thing was that we worked with the grassroots, which has been so inspirational. We did get to 130,000 strong, in terms........

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