For anyone following me on social media for the last few months, my usual cycle of Utah Jazz support, entertainment snark and Trump bashing has been superseded by a daily campaign for Governor Jay Inslee for President. I was supposed to attend a private fundraiser for Governor Inslee earlier this week, but given my usual luck it was not completely surprising that bad weather and a helicopter crash (!) in NYC led to a postponement of the event. So I must resort to my blog and social media to get part two of my message out to Inslee and his staff. Governor Inslee can no longer play the role of The Lorax in the 2020 campaign. He cannot play the Eco John the Baptist to whichever savior the Democratic primary voters eventually pick. He needs to get out of the 1% pack and to do so he must start naming names in the Democratic party.
As a quick recap I wrote this about and for Inslee in March and although it took a while he has started to employ some of these things (almost certainly by coincidence, but still).
- He has started to distinguish himself a little bit from the also-rans with his climate change militancy
- He has name checked Joe Biden (at the time that I wrote in March, Bernie was the front runner and Biden had not declared yet, but the logic is the same)
- He has finally started to tout his stellar progressive credentials and accomplishments
At least some of these represent positive and smart steps, even if it took too long to start. But now the Governor has a bigger problem. He is basically headlining the 1% field. His climate debate request has gotten him a little more press, but it has not been able to get him to break into the Biden-Bernie-Warren-Buttigieg-Harris 1st tier. He has not even broken into the Booker-Beto-Klobuchar second tier. Oddly enough, when Seth Myers took a dig at Inslee’s relative anonymity I thought “at least they were mentioning him!” It reminded me of the Jack Sparrow line, when told he was the worst pirate someone had ever heard of… “but you have heard of me.”
And to be clear, my money is where my blog is – I have given so much money to the Inslee campaign that my girlfriend may be starting to think Inslee is a chick from California that I am seeing on the side since some of that money “might be better spent on other things” as she waves her naked ring finger. But the Governor is in real danger of being stuck in the 1% crowd permanently if he doesn’t take some drastic action. That is why he needs to start naming his opponents and not just offering a list of great accomplishments as a legislator and governor (that not enough people are hearing anyway). Because right now, Inslee’s goal must be to get to 3-5%. And to do so he must start going after those above him.
But this is not necessarily a call for attacks and I don’t think from Inslee’s character he is looking to tear down fellow Democrats. Instead here examples of what he should do (in both an ad and in the debate at the end of the month):
- “I think Senator Warren has a great idea for paid family leave. That’s why I already implemented it as Governor.”
- “I think Senator Booker has great ideas on criminal justice reform and gun control. I lost my seat in the House voting for the assault weapons ban and have commuted sentences/pardoned thousands of non-violent drug offenders as governor.”
- “Beto has a cute climate change plan.” (Ok that’s just for me, but you get where I am going)
- “Bernie is a passionate progressive, but my progressive record is second to none and I did it in signing bills and risking my seat in Congress, not just in debates and campaign rallies. My state has the highest minimum wage AND the highest GDP.”
- “Senator Warren has a good plan for college tuition, but I have done that in Washington as well. And as someone who had to leave Stanford after a year for financial reasons I understand this issue on a personal level.”
- “Pete Buttigieg has a great future in this party and is an important voice going forward, but when we get Donald Trump out of office we need someone with the experience and the vision to tackle our probelems on day one. He may be a quick study, but I already know the book.”
- “Joe Biden was a great VP under a great President, but Mitch McConnell needs to be dealt with as the SCOTUS thieving, Trump enabling, corrupt wife-having enemy to our Constitution that he is. WOOOOOO!” (sorry a Ric Flair exclamation seemed appropriate after all the rhyming).
I hope that makes my point clear. Govenror Inslee is at the point where getting to 10 or 20% is something to worry about in the Fall. The immediate mission (for the survivial of his campaign and message) is to get to 5%. And to do that contrasts must be made by name. Most of those are not attacks, especially the Booker and Warren comparisons – but they will make people wonder if maybe Governor Inslee is the best person to make ideas into laws. The message must be “Yes I think climate change is the lens through which we must view most, if not all, issues, but before you brand me some tree hugging, one issue candidate, know that my record as a Congressman and a governor is a progressive powerhouse. Many of the candidates you support now are great people with great ideas. But I have spent the last 25 years turning great ideas into great laws. And when it comes to not just defeating Trump, but governing and leading a great new century of American hope and prosperity there is NO candidate more prepared on day one than me.” They cannot attack Inslee on his record from the left and if the moderates of the party want a Biden – they should be looking at the younger guy with a sterling economic record as governor – where business AND workers have thrived.
Too many people think of Govenror Inslee as a one issue candidate and relegate him to the EPA under an administration of a candidate polling better. That’s like saying Lebron James would make a great 6th man. Yes, it’s true, but the resume, the accomplishments and the experience demand a bigger spotlight and that starts, for Governor Inslee, by naming names and getting to 5%.