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The 2020 Democrats: Jay Inslee

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

*See our full list of 2020 Democrats here*

Quick Facts

Who: Jay Inslee

State: Washington State

Current position: Governor of Washington State

Campaign Website:


Background: In 1973, Jay Inslee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Washington. He later earned a law degree from Willamette University in 1976. He served in the Washington State House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993 before winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1996, Inslee served former President Bill Clinton as the regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Inslee then returned to the U.S. House in 1999. Finally, he was elected as the governor of Washington State in 2012.

2020 Campaign & Endorsements

  • Date Announced: March 1, 2019

  • Fundraising: $2.25 million in the first quarter

  • Campaign Leadership: Aisling Kerins 

  • Key Endorsements: Rick Larsen

Political Positions

  • Healthcare: Inslee condemned Trump’s change to Title X, making organizations ineligible for funding, “to cover STD prevention, cancer screenings and contraception,” if they offer or refer clients to abortion services. Inslee said, “By denying access to Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics, more than 80,000 people in Washington could lose access to their current doctor. The president is directly interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. He is forcing doctors, nurses and community health centers to deny treatment referrals and fully legal medical services to their patients, whom they took an oath to serve. This is unacceptable and wrong.” In January, Inslee introduced legislation that would provide public health care through Washington State’s Health Benefit Exchange. During the announcement, he expressed his gratitude to the Obama administration for passing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Immigration: In 2018, Inslee put $1.2 million into legal services for immigrants who were being separated from their families at the SeaTac federal detention center. In light of President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, Inslee said, “The horrific separation of children from their parents at our southern border is just the latest in an ongoing effort by the president’s administration to terrorize immigrant families and those seeking asylum or refuge. Everyone is entitled to a fair and due process, and this funding will help make sure Washington is doing everything it can to protect that system of justice for all.” Inslee is against Trump’s national emergency declaration at the southern border and called his border wall agenda a, “wasteful vanity project.”
  • Environment: Climate change is the highlight of Inslee’s presidential campaign. He hopes to get bills passed that will streamline legislation for combating climate change in the future. These include removing the Senate filibuster as well as allow Senate votes for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. The former governor also signed his state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which forces their electoral votes to go to the winner of the presidential popular vote. Inslee commended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal in an interview with Vox’s David Roberts. He said while the Green New Deal doesn’t reflect what plans he wanted in 2007, he thinks AOC’s plan is, “necessary and suitable to the times. It’s a major reindustrialization of America and we should talk about it in these terms. We need to build things again, all around the country. We’ve got to get communities involved in that. I think the youth movement on this is fantastic.”
  • Economy: Inslee’s climate change agenda will play a big role in his economic policies.  On March 1, he said that he wouldn’t use taxpayer money to subsidize and oil or gas company, nor would he take any money from those companies. He promised that putting efforts into clean energy would provide, “good paying jobs to every community across America.”
  • Criminal Justice: Inslee used his clemency authority to pardon for Washington state citizens convicted of a marijuana possession misdemeanor. The governor’s website said, “This is a small step, but one that moves us in the direction of correcting injustices that disproportionately affected communities of color.” As a congressman, Inslee also voted for a new definition of “hate crime” in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which would include anti-gay motivations as a factor.
  • Gun Control: As the governor of Washington State, Inslee signed a bill in 2018 banning bump stocks on firearms. “Devices that turn legal guns into weapons of war have no place in the hands of civilians in Washington state,” Inslee said. “And sensible gun regulations, including banning these devices, can help reduce violence in our communities.”
  • Abortion: Inslee is pro-abortion. As a former congressman, he voted against legislation to ban federal healthcare coverage that includes abortion, supported embryonic stem cell research, and voted against prohibiting partial-birth abortions.


  • Boeing Tax Break Blunder: Seattle Times wrote that Inslee was largely responsible for giving Boeing, “the largest corporate tax break in U.S. history.” He gave the company $8.7 billion. But despite the large investment, Boeing cut 20,000 jobs in five years, because the deal, “didn’t include job guarantees.”

This piece is part of our Election 2020 series. See below for more information on the most talked about Democrats challenging President Trump. 

Who Is Joe Biden?

Who Is Bernie Sanders?

Who Is Elizabeth Warren?

Who Is Kamala Harris?

Who Is Pete Buttigieg?

Who Is Beto O’Rourke?

Who Is Kamala Harris?

Who Is Cory Booker?

Who Is Eric Swalwell?

Who Is Amy Klobuchar?

Who Is Kirsten Gillibrand?

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