Jay Inslee is garnering more and more mentions nationally as a potential darkhorse candidate for president in 2020. He gets pegged a “darkhorse” because, despite being a state governor, even many Democratic activists around the country don’t know who he is (or that Washington is a state, without being reminded that Seattle has to exist somewhere).
Inslee is a darkhorse? Maybe. A workhorse? Certainly not.
As previous Shift analyses of Inslee’s calendar have shown, he’s not exactly known for burning the candle at both ends. It’s so much easier to do your job when you feel no compunction to actually do your job. For Inslee there are plenty of late-morning arrivals to the office, short work days, and lots of out-of-state travel.
And no matter where he is, his calendar always has big blocks set aside for “workout time.” Maybe he’d benefit from blocking out some “thinking time” instead.
But who has time for thinking, or paying attention to your day job? Inslee has places to go, people to see, and billionaire donors to appease.
There’s no place like anywhere else but home
These days Inslee has anywhere but Olympia to be. He’s in D.C. “standing up” to Donald Trump. He’s in Denver, telling Coloradans to vote for a Democrat, any Democrat, for governor. He’s back in D.C., sharing a stage with his favorite billionaire Tom Steyer.
On June 23 he’ll be in Altoona, Iowa – which is not an Olympia suburb – telling Democrats there why he’d make a great presi…er, presenter on green energy issues.
(Sidenote: Shift still has a hard time believing Inslee will run for president with the aim of winning the Democratic nomination. We’d buy VP or a Cabinet post. Surely even Jay Inslee knows Jay Inslee would be out of his depth at that level. Running for president will bring about 500 times more scrutiny than Inslee has ever received running for Congress or governor.)
Expounding on anything, as long as it’s a national story and won’t upset the base
Ask Inslee his opinion on any topic these days and he’ll jump at the chance – as long as it’s a big, splashy, national issue that will get him lots of attention. And one that won’t put him crosswise with his liberal base.
Inslee has carved out the time lately for appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher, touting Washington marijuana as “the best weed in the United States of America.” He went on Morning Joe, where Inslee was asked if he wants to run for president. “Well, I am interested in winning in 2018,” he said. “We can’t wait till 2020 to rein in this train of abuses” – which the show’s hosts translated as a “yes.”
Inslee happily expounds on guns, greenhouse gases, Canada’s pipelines, immigration, and absolutely anything to do with Donald Trump.
But what about the hot topics here at home? What has he said about Seattle’s head tax, for instance? Inslee hasn’t said a word. The homelessness crisis? He must think it’s King County’s problem, not his, for all the leadership he has shown.
The head tax issue is illustrative. When President Trump was knocking Amazon, Inslee made a full-throated defense of this major Washington employer. Since that time, Seattle city councilmember Kshama Sawant has made bashing Amazon a full-time crusade.
Inslee’s response? Radio silence.
But then, pushing back on Kshama Sawant will upset some of the far-left base Inslee needs to build that national profile. Bashing Donald Trump is cheap, easy, and useful. Actually dealing with our local issues might make some people mad, so Inslee has no interest.