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Jay Inslee Is Ending His Climate Change–Driven Campaign For President

Inslee leaves the race after elevating climate change issues in the primary, despite not cutting through in polling himself.

Posted on August 21, 2019, at 9:10 p.m. ET

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is ending his run for president, he said on The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday night.

“I’m not going to be carrying the ball, but I feel like somebody else is,” Inslee said.

Inslee leaves the race after elevating climate change issues in the primary, despite never cutting through in polling himself.

While Inslee wasn’t entirely a single-issue candidate, he kept his campaign tightly focused on climate change. He released half a dozen policy plans to address climate change during his run, on everything from a massive spending and investment plan to banning fracking and killing US coal. He released his latest plan, tackling climate change in the agricultural sector, this week. Inslee raised the issues repeatedly in the two primary debates he was part of and has pressed the Democratic National Committee to hold a separate candidate debate just on the climate issues.

On Wednesday night, Inslee renewed his call for a climate debate. DNC members are meeting this week in San Francisco and are expected to vote on this issue in the coming days.

Inslee did gain some traction late in the campaign, meeting the DNC’s threshold this week of at least 130,000 individual donors for the September debate. But he did not manage to meet the party’s polling requirements, which would have meant getting at least 2% support in at least four qualifying polls.

Inslee’s six sweeping climate policy proposals, many of them running more than 30 pages long, touched on the economy, immigration, environmental justice, public lands, agriculture, international relations, and more. As part of his 10-year mobilization plan, with a $9 trillion price tag, he proposed having federal agencies get all their domestic energy production from clean energy sources, such as wind and solar; dramatically expanding enforcement against corporate polluters; shuttering all coal plants by 2030; banning all fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and offshore waters; increasing funding of research into climate science and solutions; and creating millions of new jobs in the green economy.

On the debate stage, Inslee not only touted his own vision but also attacked other candidates, including former vice president Joe Biden, for not being aggressive enough. As Inslee now steps away from the race, he said he will help the rest of the contenders with their climate plans. He also said his own plans are "open source" and available for all to use.

"As we turn to the future, I will have more to say about what comes next for me in the days ahead," Inslee wrote in a Wednesday night email announcing the end of his campaign to supporters. "I can assure you that I will continue to lead, to demand bold action, and to do everything in my power to ensure the fight to defeat climate change stays at the top of the national agenda."

Ruby Cramer contributed reporting.

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