Inslee finished in Congress, now focuses on campaign

Jay Inslee is returning to Washington on Tuesday, a career in Congress finished and a campaign for governor foremost in his mind.

“It was a great American experience, every single year and every single day,” Inslee said Monday, the last day of the Democratic lawmaker’s 15-plus-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There was no melancholy in his voice as he prepared to cast a final vote, collect his belongings and fly home where he’ll become a full-time candidate. He is the leading Democratic contender to face state Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican candidate, this fall in the governor’s race.

“I’m not looking in the rear-view mirror,” he said. “I’m looking forward. I’m committed to help our state move forward. I am very well-equipped for the office of governor because of my experience in Congress.”

Inslee, who served the 1st Congressional district, which includes parts of south Snohomish County, trumpeted his efforts to help the Boeing Co. snare the air tanker contract by requiring U.S. Air Force officials consider subsidies received by Airbus as part of its competition. And he spoke of his work to boost exports of Washington agriculture products, develop alternative forms of energy and cultivate biotechnology firms in Snohomish County.

And Inslee, a man known for rhetorically colorful floor speeches, spoke proudly of holding onto his convictions by voting against the war in Iraq and against bailing out Wall Street, twice.

“I am resolute in standing up and being counted,” he said.

Yet in the coming days, the value of his federal experience may be overshadowed by the decision -->

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