Inslee forms PAC for pos­si­ble White House bid

The Olympian - - Local - BY JIM BRUN­NER

Gov. Jay Inslee’s fledg­ling fed­eral po­lit­i­cal-ac­tion com­mit­tee on Thurs­day re­ported $112,500 in do­na­tions as he inched closer in an in­ter­view to­ward a pos­si­ble run for pres­i­dent in 2020.

The gov­er­nor’s Vi­sion PAC re­ported about two dozen early con­trib­u­tors, in­clud­ing wealthy en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and tech ex­ec­u­tives, in a fil­ing with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. The cash will en­able Inslee to ex­plore his pres­i­den­tial vi­a­bil­ity and could pay for travel to early cau­cus and pri­mary states in­clud­ing Iowa and New Hamp­shire.

In an in­ter­view with The Seat­tle Times and pub­lic ra­dio’s North­west News Net­work, Inslee stressed he has yet to make up his mind, but said he is “ac­tively con­sid­er­ing” a White House run – and made an ar­gu­ment for his vi­a­bil­ity as a can­di­date who’d make 2020 a ref­er­en­dum on fight­ing cli­mate change.

The two-term Demo­cratic gov­er­nor would al­most cer­tainly start out as a long shot for his party’s nom­i­na­tion amid a thicket of bet­ter-known po­ten­tial con­tenders, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic Sens. Bernie San­ders of Ver­mont and Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia, and for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

But Inslee pointed to the fu­neral this week for for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, not­ing two for­mer pres­i­dents who sat in the front pew, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clin­ton, “were pretty much un­known gov­er­nors of small states” be­fore they ran for pres­i­dent.

“So this is a wide-open field. No one has a lock on this. No one has a to­tal crys­tal ball as to what the na­tion wants,” Inslee said. “But I’ve ex­pressed a vi­sion that is based on both a present recog­ni­tion of an ex­is­ten­tial threat to our na­tion and a track record of eco­nomic suc­cess and vi­tal­ity that is based on poli­cies that we know work. Be­cause I’ve done it.”

Inslee boasted of what he called “the Wash­ing­ton Way,” cit­ing the state’s eco­nomic growth while rais­ing wages and worker pro­tec­tions as a tem­plate for the na­tion.

On his cen­tral is­sue, the gov­er­nor and his cli­mate­ac­tivist al­lies have en­dured a rough cou­ple of months. Wash­ing­ton vot­ers in Novem­ber re­jected a car­bon­fee ini­tia­tive he pro­moted. Riot­ers in France have op­posed a na­tional gas-tax in­crease. And sci­en­tists is­sued re­ports say­ing the im­pacts of global warm­ing will be even than pre­vi­ously thought.

Inslee said re­treat is not an op­tion. He re­cently vis­ited the scene of dev­as­tat­ing fires in Par­adise, Cal­i­for­nia, com­par­ing the scene to a World War II fire­bomb­ing.

“We have to act now. There is no act­ing to­mor­row. This is a to­day emer­gency, if you will. And it’s dou­bly so be­cause we have a cli­mate de­nier in the White House who is in­tent on ig­nor­ing hun­dreds of na­tional sci­en­tists,” he said.

Inslee has moved grad­u­ally to­ward a po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial run over the past year, in part through mak­ing con­nec­tions and rais­ing his vis­i­bil­ity as chair of the Demo­cratic Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion. As that role wound down, with his term of­fi­cially end­ing last week, Inslee has shifted more ex­plic­itly to­ward his own 2020 am­bi­tions.

The es­tab­lish­ment of his fed­eral PAC in early Oc­to­ber was among the most con­crete signs to date of his in­ten­tions.

Inslee’s early PAC do­na­tions in­clude sup­port from long­time en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist donors, in­clud­ing Martha Wy­ck­off, a long­time board mem­ber with the Trust for Pub­lic Land, who gave the max­i­mum al­lowed $5,000. Ama­zon’s gen­eral coun­sel, David Zapol­sky, also gave $5,000. Travel guru Rick Steves do­nated $2,500.

Vi­sion PAC also re­ported pay­ing three long­time Inslee cam­paign con­sul­tants for work. Thurs­day’s FEC fil­ing for Vi­sion PAC cov­ered the pe­riod be­tween mid-Oc­to­ber and Nov. 26.

ERIKA SCHULTZ TNS

Gov. Jay Inslee’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee re­ported $112,500 in do­na­tions as he gears up for a pos­si­ble pres­i­den­tial run.

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