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Inslee recommended for cabinet positions by progressive think tank

In a memo released yesterday, a progressive aligned think tank recommended Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as a potential appointee to four different cabinet positions, should presumptive Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden defeat President Trump in the November election.   

The memo was written by the think tank and public opinion research group, Data for Progress. Titled, “Progressive Cabinet Project – Shaping a Progressive Administration,” the memo explores potential appointees to cabinet offices and  “cabinet-rank” federal offices. 

Should Trump be defeated in November, progressives should be prepared for the task of working with Joe Biden’s team to curate the most progressive administration in history,” wrote Aidan Smith, Electoral Analyst at Data for Progress, in the memo’s introduction. 

According to Data for Progress, the memo is designed to serve as an analysis of what qualifies an individual to hold a particular cabinet office as well as a list of suitable names for them who align with progressives on matters of policy. 

Inslee’s executive experience as a governor could work in his favor should he be receptive to a cabinet position, according to the memo. 

It’s unsurprising that presiding over a cabinet department is a natural fit for those with executive experience at the state level. When Governors are chosen for administrative positions, they may be in the midst of their political prime looking to increase their national stature or well past it and in need of a job.”  

Inslee was suggested as a potential appointee for Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Energy, EPA Administrator, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

Given his tenure as a Western state governor and political profile as a climate hawk, Data for Progress concluded that Inslee may be uniquely suited to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

Given that he governs a western state and has fought attempts to impose cost barriers to accessing national parks, Inslee heading the Department of the Interior makes perfect sense from a progressive point of view. During his tenure as Governor, Inslee has made the protection of Washington’s clean water a priority.” 

The Department of the Interior is responsible for the management and conservation of three quarters of federal land and natural resources therein. It also oversees such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service. 

From a progressive perspective, Data for Progress wrote that the next Secretary of the Interior should  “halt any plans for the privatization of America’s national parks and other federally-owned lands.” 

While a member of the US House, Inslee was named in 2008 as a contender for this position in then President-elect Obama’s administration. The memo notes that several Western state governors have led the Department of the Interior in the past.   

An unspoken tradition of cabinet politics for both major parties is that governors of western states are often (but certainly not always) chosen to lead the Departments of the Interior and/or Agriculture.”

Fawn Sharp, President of the National Congress of American Indians and the Quinault Indian Nation was also suggested as a potential Secretary of the Interior appointee.   

Inslee’s plan to phase out fossil fuel consumption and experience serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee while he was in Congress also make him a strong candidate to lead the Department of Energy, the memo said. 

The Department of Energy manages the regulation of the federal nuclear weapons program in addition to overseeing research and policy recommendations related to domestic energy production. 

In the effort to combat climate change, the Secretary of Energy is viewed by progressives as an important instrument of change. 

The Secretary of Energy should be tasked first and foremost with coordinating efforts to respond to the climate crisis with other department heads and prioritizing the use of department funds to support research into alternative energy sources,” wrote Data for Progress.

A less prominent position, yet still designated as “cabinet-level” position, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator supervises the agency’s environmental research. Data for Progress wrote that a progressive EPA Administrator would sanction polluters and prioritize environmental justice.

Data for Progress has also called for the creation of a formal “Department of Environmental Protection” led by a “Secretary of Environmental Protection.”

Both Inslee and Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal are recommended as potential appointees to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB Director leads the agency in the production of its federal budget proposal.

Jayapal is a member of the House Budget Committee and co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

Again referencing Inslee’s environmental bona fides, Data for Progress wrote that having Inslee lead the OMB would be “a strong signal that the White House is committed to tackling the climate crisis.”

Inslee garnered praise from progressives during his own presidential campaign in 2020. Competing against Vice President Biden and over twenty other candidates for the Democratic nomination, Inslee made climate policy the centerpiece of his campaign. 

Inslee’s climate plan proposed a shift to 100% clean energy nationwide by 2035 and was called the “gold standard” by progressive favorite, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Inslee also voiced support for Ocasio-Cortez’s signature Green New Deal legislation

While he was still a presidential candidate, Inslee criticized Vice President Biden’s climate plan for its proposed timeline, saying “We don’t have 30 years to get this job done…I believe we have to have a President who will look at the CEOs of the oil and gas and coal industry and tell them to stand down.”   

Inslee attracted enough support to qualify for the first round of the Democratic debates. But after failing to see a bump in polling or fundraising, he dropped out of the race in August 2019. Following his exit from the presidential race, Inslee announced his intention to seek a rare third term as governor.

At the time of that announcement, the Governor acknowledged the messaging challenges he would need to overcome in order to win a third term.

Getting elected to a third term is a tough task,” he said. “And doing so on the heels of a failed presidential campaign where you sent a message to voters that you want a different job, that doesn’t sit very well.”


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