Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, he announced Wednesday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“It’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball, I’m not going to be the president so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race,” he told Maddow, vowing he’d help keep the other 2020 candidates focused on issue of climate change, the focal point of his campaign. “I’ve been fighting climate change for 25 years and I’ve never been so confident of the ability of America now to reach critical mass to move the ball.”
Inslee’s campaign was bookended with pleas to take climate change seriously.
“This is our moment to put the greatest threat to our existence, to our economy, to our health, at the very top of the nation’s agenda,” Inslee said in March at his campaign’s kickoff event in Seattle.
Inslee put out a detailed 10-year plan on how he’d move the country to clean energy, spurring other candidates to put out their own plans. Butting heads with the Democratic National Committee, he demanded that the organization hold a debate focused on climate change.
The DNC rebuffed his pleas in June, but CNN announced soon after that it would hold a town hall on the issue with the 2020 candidates in September. Inslee, however, did not meet the polling criteria the network used for the event — a minimum of 2 percent in four DNC-recognized polls — and was not on the list of attendees the network announced on Tuesday.
While Inslee said Monday that he had reached the 130,000 donation threshold for the next Democratic debate in September, his lack of qualifying polls would likely have kept him from the debate stage as well.
He told Maddow he hopes other candidates can make use of his climate plan, which he said has been called “the gold standard.”
He declined on Wednesday to throw support behind another candidate, but said, “I’m going to endorse the Democrat nominee, no matter who it is.”
Other 2020 candidates were quick to praise his efforts.
“Thank you @JayInslee for fighting every day to make sure that climate change remains a primary focus of this election. 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,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“Few leaders have done more to shine a light on the climate crisis than @JayInslee,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “His voice will be missed in this primary but I know he will continue this fight.”
Inslee is the third major candidate in the sprawling field to exit the race after Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.