About 100 supporters got a glimpse of how U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee intends to frame his campaign for governor or Washington. The Bainbridge Island Democrat pitched himself as the person who can work with both labor and business to exploit the state’s leadership in technology fields like software, clean energy and aerospace.
It was Day 2 of his announcement tour with stops in Tacoma, Vancouver and Spokane today. Inslee spoke yesterday in Seattle and Yakima.
“It is time to build a working Washington,” Inslee said in an appearance at the IBEW Hall on South 36th. “I pledge to get up every morning dedicated to a noble task – to create middle-class, good-paying jobs for the people of the state of Washington.
Inslee joins Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna as the only two major candidates. Gov. Chris Gregoire announced earlier this month that she would not seek a third term.
Inslee was a candidate for governor in 1996, losing to Gary Locke in the Democratic primary. He has the unique political history of representing two different districts in Congress on different sides of the state – the 4th District of Central Washington from 1993 to 1995 and the 1st District north of Seattle since 1999.
“I know the state of Washington from outside the shadow of the Space Needle,” he said.
The former state legislator portrayed himself as an outsider who could challenge the status quo in Olympia, complaining about “layers of management” and “ossification of personnel” in the state governmen.
“Not being part of the Olympia scene it will be easier for me to shake it up,” Inslee said.
That illustrates the uncomfortable balance for a Democratic candidate for governor – appealing to the popular sentiment that government is too big and not well run while not appearing to criticize a Democratic incumbent. In fact, Democrats have controlled the governor’s mansion since 1985 and are largely responsible for recession era budgets that “have punched a hole in our education funding that is criminal.”
Inslee said one solution would be to reduce the amount of money going toward health care inflation and return it to education.
“Health care costs are a drag on job creation,” Inslee said. “We need a governor with the gumption and ideas to tackle these problems.”
Here is a link to the Associated Press story on Inslee’s formal declaration Monday.