LOS ANGELES (CN) – Washington state governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee toured a tech startup incubator in Los Angeles on Thursday, shaking hands with entrepreneurs he called the next phase in the American story – the green economy.
Inslee, 68, has presented himself as the antidote to the Trump administration’s denial on climate change as he’s toured sites of natural disasters like Paradise, California, where 85 people died in a wildfire this past November. More recently, Inslee visited Hamburg, Iowa, where flooding submerged most of the town.
Inslee jumped into a crowded race of Democrats vying for the White House and while most progressive Democrats say that climate change is an important issue to tackle, Inslee has made it a focal point of his campaign.
“The scientific debate is over,” said Inslee at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator on Thursday. “The issue now is are we are we going to cue to the basic American character of optimism, confidence and inclusion and recognizing our diversity.”
Driving home his support for action on climate change Inslee toured the sleek nonprofit incubator campus in downtown Los Angeles where tech workers quietly peered from behind their computer monitors as he met staff, toured a prototype workshop and shook hands with an employee in a lab coat.
Iranian immigrant Max Aram, co-founder of Pick My Solar, described his company’s business model to help solar installers meet clients and all the other services the company provides. He came to the United States in 2009 about 10 days after the Iranian presidential election and has been located at the incubator since 2015.
“I think it’s important to create that feeling of competition. I think that’s the American spirit. This is the forefront of the competition,” said Aram. “China is leading the way. Why should we be caught in these silly partisan politics that’s holding us back from investing in something that’s the future?”
Inslee asked who buys more solar panels, Democrats or Republicans. Aram laughed and said Democrats make up most of his customer base, but Republicans are coming around.
“These jobs didn’t exist 15 years ago,” said Inslee. “We need to save our economy and grow clean jobs. We need to put people to work.”
He added, “There’s a hell of a lot more jobs fighting climate change than denying it.”
In a March 28 Quinnipiac poll, less than 1% of Democrat or Democrat-leaning voters said they would choose Inslee to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.