Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at a news conference on Jan. 19 in Olympia. He is headed to Iowa next month as the keynote speaker for a fundraiser at a gathering of that state’s leading Democratic officials. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at a news conference on Jan. 19 in Olympia. He is headed to Iowa next month as the keynote speaker for a fundraiser at a gathering of that state’s leading Democratic officials. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Hmmm: Inslee will keynote an Iowa Democratic fundraiser

The governor, considered by some a long-shot presidential candidate, is fulfilling a routine duty.

By Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is headed to Iowa next month as the keynote speaker for a fundraiser at a gathering of that state’s leading Democratic officials.

But just because he’s making a trip to the home of the nation’s first presidential caucuses is not necessarily an early indication Inslee has plans to run for the White House in 2020.

His invitation is a result of his role as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party said. That state has a hot gubernatorial race this year, and it’s part of Inslee’s job with the DGA to get more Democrats elected to those seats.

He was in Nevada last month and will be in Colorado this week, said Jamal Raad, an Inslee spokesman.

Inslee will be speaking at the Iowa party’s Hall of Fame Celebration, which will honor activists, party members and elected officials. He was chosen in part because he “exemplified a lot of good progressive policies in Washington,” said Tess Seger, the Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman.

The question of whether this annual event, the party’s second biggest fundraiser of the year, is a stepping stone to the caucuses regularly comes up, Seger said. But the invited speakers “run the gamut,” she said.

Last year, it was actor Alec Baldwin, she said, who did his impersonation of President Trump which he made famous on “Saturday Night Live.” In 2010, which like this year had a gubernatorial election in Iowa, the keynote speaker was Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

The attention for Iowa Democrats won’t likely shift from the governor’s race to the White House until 2019, Seger said.

Since taking the post as DGA chairman, Inslee has fielded questions about a possible White House run. Several previous chairmen — Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton and Howard Dean — have later run for president, although most, including Washington’s Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire, have not.

Inslee has said Democrats can’t wait until 2020 to challenge Trump’s policies and is confident the party will have a presidential nominee who will put clean energy and fighting climate change front and center in the campaign, Raad said. And if there isn’t a candidate emphasizing those issues?

“He hasn’t said,” Raad replied.

His name was mentioned a few times in 2017 after the state successfully challenged the Trump administration on its immigration restrictions. CNN’s Chris Cillizza grouped him in a second tier of possible candidates who “have potential to be major contenders but not there … yet.” Axios, a political news website, placed him in the “outsiders” category with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Colorado Gov. Ed Hickenlooper.

In March , with an eye on the NCAA basketball tournament, CNN created brackets for the possible Democratic field and seeded Inslee third in the governor bracket, while describing him as “still mostly unknown nationally.”

Washington has not been a hotbed of presidential aspirations. The state’s most recent, and arguably its strongest, contender for the presidency was u.s. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party nomination in 1972 and again in 1976, when he won primaries or caucuses in Washington, New York, Massachusetts and Alaska before losing Pennsylvania to Jimmy Carter and dropping out of the race.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson. (Auburn Reporter, file)
Auburn cop’s story conflicts with witness account of killing

Police officer Jeffrey Nelson has been charged with murder in the killing of Jesse Sarey.

State Sens. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, lower left, Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, upper left, Andy Billig, D-Spokane, upper right, and Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, lower right, confer on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during debate on a measure that would delay implementation of a long-term care program and the payroll tax that pays for it. The Senate passed the measure, which was passed by the House last week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measure on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Legislature OKs pause to long-term care program and tax

Lawmakers want to address solvency concerns and other issues in the WA Cares fund.

Kevin Duncan puts his ballot in the ballot drop box outside of the Arlington Library on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Arlington, Wash. The Arlington school District has three measures on the February ballot, including one to replace Post Middle School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
High court: State must pay for some, not all, ballot boxes

Snohomish County sued to recoup the cost of adding 21 ballot drop boxes to comply with a 2017 law.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, left, speaks on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during debate on a measure that would delay implementation of a long-term care program and the payroll tax that pays for it. The Senate passed the measure, which was passed by the House last week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measure on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delay of Washington’s long-term-care program signed into law

The bill addresses concerns about the program’s solvency and criticism about elements of the underlying law.

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, Amazon packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Amazon’s pandemic boom isn’t showing signs of slowing down. The company said Thursday, April 29, 2021, that its first-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago, fueled by the growth of online shopping. It also posted revenue of more than $100 billion, the second quarter in row that the company has passed that milestone. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
‘Sold by Amazon’ program ends following state investigation

Washington’s attorney general found the program was anticompetitive and violated antitrust laws.

This photo shows a sign at the headquarters for Washington state's Employment Security Department Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's rush to get unemployment benefits to residents who lost jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak left it vulnerable to criminals who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington’s paid family leave program running short on cash

The program began in 2020, and in the first six weeks more than triple the amount of people expected applied.

During a June 2021 bust, Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters, seized about $40,000 in cash and arrested multiple suspects after a lengthy investigation into numerous thefts. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Police
Lawmakers urged to curb demand for stolen catalytic converters

Potential changes to Senate Bill 5495 could include recordkeeping, inspections and penalties for recyclers.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
State high court to hear case about transit fare enforcement

The state Supreme Court will consider whether it constitutes an invasion of privacy.

University of Washington will begin in-person classes at the end of January. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
University of Washington to return to in-person learning

The school requires all students and staff to wear masks indoors and be vaccinated.

Most Read