Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register

Jim Boldt: “Be Careful What You Ask For: Inslee And A Third Term”

Jim Boldt, President of Duckabush Communications/Public Affairs, wrote the following commentary on Inslee’s decision to run for a third term and the alternative Democrats who could have run.

He’s Back:

Look at it this way. Jay Inslee’s second choice for his future is being our governor. Second choice!

We have to believe that he thought he could actually win the Democrat nomination for President, right? If not, why was he in it? Did he actually raise the awareness of climate issues? Put aside the hundreds of thousands of dollars of Washington tax payer money he spent on executive security.  And, yes he blew tons of carbon into the air with his vehicles and presidential-candidate air plane rides. But, did he really think he could beat “Sleepy Joe”, and then eventually “The Donald”? If not, what was his motive? Why did he run? The outcome at this point is he scampered back to Olympia, smiled, and told us he is now available to match our most respected governor, Dan Evans, with a third term. (I was in the legislature during Dan Evan’s third term, Inslee is no Dan Evans.)

The Seattle Times opined that the emperor has no clothes. They laid out, in a thoughtful editorial, why it actually is harmful to our state if Inslee prevails for a third term. It read like a coaching to “give it up, move over, let the new ideas flow.” Really? Be careful what you ask for. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

Who’s Next?

Everyone has their favorite next governor. (Disclosure, on the D side I pick Franz.) But if Inslee were  to step aside and retire to Bainbridge Island to run a non-profit or continue his less than impactful national attack on climate issues, who would actually run for governor? We know from premature announcements that Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Public Lands boss Hilary Franz were lining up to take a shot at the Olympia mansion. If the Seattle Times did their homework they must have seen something new, or innovative in one or all of the three, because change for change sake is just change with a new shirt.

Ferguson? If you read his statements and follow his crusade against all things Trump, he seems to be merely a boisterous manifestation of Jay Inslee. Same support base, same issues, same prime directive to stir up the metro base. Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult to get traction as an attorney general if all you do is your job defending the state and it’s laws. That is why Ferguson has spent tons of dough and many hours justifying his lawsuits against Trump and the federal government. It gets him the newsprint ink and notoriety he will need to run for governor… someday. Remember, his entry into politics was a challenge to an incumbent King County Council member. Fergy, a former member of the Jesuit Vounteer Corps Northwest, beat her by a mere 500 votes and then ran unopposed in the general election. He’s taken on incumbents before. Why not take on Inslee if he feels so strongly about his positions on issues?

Dow Constantine? Dow has been around for decades, safely picking his next move. He was caught last year running around the state testing his state-wide-image for what we now know was the preparation of an on-again-off-again gubernatorial  run. What does he bring to Olympia except the creeping left agenda of the Seattle and King County area? Kind of like Inslee with a lower risk quotient.  And don’t forget, Dow already did his stint in Oly as a legislator where he was known for? … I’ll have to get back to you on this.

Franz? Now comes Hilary. Not just another progressive from Bainbridge Island, she has not been in the swamp as long as the others and in my few face-to-face meetings with her at the Suquamish Tribe Foundation Auctions I think she has spunk. She probably is the only real new face in the crowd, and I’m guessing a lot of people feel we are ready for another female governor (one that does not champion nuclear power). A graduate of a very small, all-girl, Catholic college (700-800 students) in Portland, Oregon, she and her background are unapologetically and creatively pro-environment and climate issues driven. What sets her apart from the two hesitant bulls above is her persona. Hilary will stir things up. She might not stir up what everyone wants, but there will be change if she ever moves into the mansion.

Be Careful What You Hope For:

It was interesting to see the Seattle Times and others call out for a change of governor, but let’s look at the bird-in-the-bush scenario. You better checkout the most likely next governor. With the exception of style and energy, all three apparent want-to-bes are almost identical in their positions of key state issues. Only the style and newness separates them.

Wish For This:

Just think if any of the three ran against Inslee in 2020. How would they offer a difference? How would they frame their distinction? Remember there are two rules about running for office. One is that you seldom lose for what “you don’t do.” And as important, you need to give the voters a reason to replace an incumbent. Hhhhhhmmmmmm, what would that be?

It would be nice to get a new style, a new approach, and a new energy level in the state mansion. Unfortunately because everyone plays it safe, it won’t happen.

Run Hilary, run.