One of Washington’s longest-serving governors won’t be trying to break the record as Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will not seek a fourth term last week.
On May 1, Inslee announced his decision in a statement. He cited being “ready to pass the torch” to a new head executive for the state, which may feature a familiar face in state government, given rumors and one official declaration.
“Serving the people as governor of Washington state has been my greatest honor. During a decade of dynamic change, we’ve made Washington a beacon for progress for the nation,” Inslee said in the statement.
The governor pointed to a number of moves in state government during his more than a decade tenure, including climate policy, family leave benefits, college scholarship programs and gun control.
Inslee was first elected in 2012 after getting about 51.5% of the vote against Republican and former state attorney general Rob McKenna’s roughly 48.5%. He increased his lead against Republicans in the 2016 election to about 54.4% against former Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant, and in 2020 against former Republic, Washington Police Chief Loren Culp, where Inslee got about 56.6% of the vote.
Inslee believed his role as governor “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 said.
A day after Inslee announced his decision, state attorney general Bob Ferguson announced an “exploratory committee” for a gubernatorial run.
Announced with both a campaign video and news release, Ferguson noted a list of public officials and groups who have endorsed the attorney general, including those representing labor, tribes and local governments.
Previous to serving as state attorney general, Ferguson was a member of King County Council. He was first elected as attorney general in 2012, and was re-elected in 2016 and 2020.
His office sued former President Donald Trump’s administration nearly 100 times, leading the litigation in 36 of those cases, according to his office.
“I have never been afraid to take on big challenges, and I’ve never forgotten who I’m fighting for,” Ferguson said in the release.
The attorney general will begin a statewide listening tour with Eastern Washington, the release stated. Apart from visiting every county as candidate for the position and in his first term, he also visited every Rotary club in the state while in the position.
“I look forward to listening and learning from Washingtonians in every county and corner of this great state,” Ferguson said in the release.
On the day Inslee announced he would not be running, Ferguson thanked the current governor for his service.
“I am grateful for our partnership on many issues that impact the people of Washington,” Ferguson said. He looked forward to continuing the work with the governor for the remainder of their respective terms.
Though Ferguson is the first Democrat to officially announce a bid for Governor, a number of potential candidates have been speculated for runs prior to Inslee making it clear on his post-2024 plans.
Among fellow Democrats, current state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz has entertained a potential run. The day Ferguson announced his committee, she told her Twitter followers to “(s)tay tuned. Big announcement coming soon.”
Following a sizable defeat in 2020, Republicans could find a potential candidate in an old face familiar to Southwest Washington, former U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. Earlier this year, D.C.-based The Dispatch wrote donors believed she was exploring a run at the seat following a primary defeat to retain her Congressional spot last year.
WIthout other formal declarations, the only Republican officially in the race is Richland School District board member Semi Bird.
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