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Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state tapping out after current term

Inslee's exit leaves the governor's mansion open to current state Attorney General Bob Ferguson or Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz — and maybe even a Republican.

(CN) — Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced he will not run for reelection in 2024, ending his gubernatorial career at the end of his third term.

“Serving the people as governor of Washington state has been my greatest honor,” Inslee said in a statement. “During a decade of dynamic change, we’ve made Washington a beacon for progress for the nation. I’m ready to pass the torch.”

First elected in 2012, Inslee is just the second governor in Washington state history to serve three consecutive four-year terms behind Republican Governor Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.

Inslee, a Democrat, succeeded former Governor Christine Gregoire — also a Democrat — who served from 2005 to 2013. Before Gregoire, Washington state voters elected another Democrat, former Governor Gary Locke. The Evergreen State last sent a Republican to the governor's mansion in 1981.

Inslee’s departure now opens the door for Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, both Democrats, to run for the seat.

But despite the state’s pull toward Democrat candidates — a pattern that persists amid Inslee’s dip in ratings — competitive Republican candidates are not entirely out of the question. In 2020, Republican candidate Loren Culp garnered 43.1% of the state’s gubernatorial vote, while in 2016, Republican candidate Bill Bryant lost with 45.5% of the vote.

Either way, the governor, now 72, has decided to leave office on a high note.

Just last week, Inslee’s office hosted two major legislative events where he first signed three gun safety bills, one of which banned the sale of assault weapons in Washington effective immediately. Three federal lawsuits followed thereafter.

Days later, Inslee hosted another event where he signed five bills to ensure access to reproductive and gender-affirming health care, making good on his earlier commitment to protect and expand reproductive rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and several states moved to outlaw abortion.

In his announcement on Monday, Inslee highlighted several other achievements since 2013, including Washington’s Clean Energy Fund, the passing of Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act to achieve clean power by 2045, the state’s Marijuana Justice Initiative to clear misdemeanor convictions and Inslee’s moratorium on the death penalty.

“Our last decade of Washington’s storied history is one of growth and innovation. I am proud to have played a role in our state’s leadership on so many fronts,” Inslee said. “We’ve passed the nation’s best climate policies, the most successful family leave benefits, the best college scholarship programs, a more fair legal justice system, and the most protective actions against gun violence. We’ve shown that diversity is a strength worth fighting for. This has been 10 years of dynamic success.”

He added: “As governor, I have seen my role as inspiring our state ever forward and ever higher. I’m gratified to be able to say that this approach has worked to improve Washingtonians lives in many ways and many places.”

Inslee also hinted residents can expect more before his departure in 2024.

“Now is the time to intensely focus on all we can accomplish in the next year and a half, and I intend to do just that,” Inslee said. “I look forward to continued partnership with legislators and community leaders to address Washington’s homelessness crisis, speed our efforts to expand behavioral health services, continue our fight against climate change, and continue making Washington a beacon of progress for all.”

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Categories / Politics, Regional

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