(CN) – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the race for president.
Inslee made the announcement on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” saying it was clear he wouldn’t win. Instead, he said he’ll run for a third term as governor of Washington state.
Inslee passed one of two thresholds to join Democratic primary debates scheduled for this fall. On Monday, his campaign announced that he had amassed the 130,000 unique donors necessary to qualify, but he was unable to approach the second threshold: at least 2% in qualifying polls.
He won’t be president, but Inslee could still have an effect on the race. As the sole candidate to run a campaign focused on slowing the climate catastrophe, he fought for one of the debates organized by the Democratic National Committee to be focused on climate change.
Democratic party leadership initially said that was a no-go, and threatened to bar him from future primary debates if he participated in a climate debate hosted by another organization. But at a meeting on Thursday in San Francisco, the DNC will consider a resolution to host just such a debate.
“In recent presidential cycles, climate change got little attention from the candidates, the DNC, or the media,” Inslee said in a press release on Wednesday. “We vowed to change that in a big way and succeeded. Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we’ve seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we’ve seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums in September.”
With tours as a state legislator, congressman, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton and, most recently as two terms as governor, he’s been in politics for over two decades.
As a U.S. representative, he sponsored 2007 legislation that would have helped halt climate change. The New Apollo Energy Act would have capped emissions, provided seed money for green technology companies and weaned the country off foreign oil.
The United States went to the moon, he argued in an op-ed at the time, pointing out that the successful mobilization to stop acid rain cost less than expected and launched a new industry. The bill died in the House.
And economic justice has always been big component of Inslee’s plan to fight climate change. His Apollo Energy Act protected companies that produced aluminum and paper, despite their emissions, because they produced jobs. He also made sure that money raised by charging polluters helped low-income families pay their utility bills.
Inslee’s plan to achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 prioritized jobs and fair wages for workers – especially those who would transition out of high-emitting industries under his plan.
Inslee said his plan would include “promoting projects with businesses owned by women and people of color; apprenticeship utilization; prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining; and community workforce and project-labor agreement.”
He bowed out of the race for president, but Inslee said the support his campaign did receive showed that some voters do prioritize his agenda.
“After more than two decades in this fight against climate change, today I am more hopeful than ever that we can achieve a critical mass to solve this crisis, because of the incredible grassroots movement we’re building together,” Inslee said in a press release Wednesday.