How Gov. Jay Inslee Must Approach Detroit and His…

After the Miami debates I posted a blog on what I believe Governor Jay Inslee had to do in the Detroit debates, which he will be participating in on July 31st.  You can read that HERE. For those of you who don’t want to read two blogs today I will sum up the gist of it – Labor. Labor. Labor. Confront rivals by name. Don’t let Kamala Harris steal your lines or ideas.   Those all still apply, but this also includes more specifics now that I know who Governor Insee’s specific opponents will be after the CNN Draft Lottery last night (to no one’s surprise the New York Knicks selected Marianne Williamson). Based on my substantial donations to the Inslee campaign and the fact that several people on his communications team are following me on Twitter I have self-appointed myself the poor man’s Sean Hannity For Good – offering a NY comedian/lawyer/political junkie’s insights into how an accomplished politician with big ideas and a good heart can land some more meaningful punches in the debates.  Some of my tips were employed, coincidentally or not, in Miami, but some were ignored to the Governor’s detriment in my opinion.  No one went after Elizabeth Warren, so like a boxing champion she left the debate with a unanimous decision victory for basically pulling a Floyd Mayweather Jr. in librarian garb.  This debate cannot go that way, so first I will give a few general tips (all Labor because I know he needs no push to discuss climate) for the Governor and his staff and then some specific lines and lines of attack against his debate opponents (and if two blogs is not enough for you, here is a speech I offered for Inslee with many usable soundbytes).


I had the honor of interviewing Governor Inslee for Sirius XM on Wednesday and the only thing that gave me pause was Inslee’s potential stubbornness to reframe his climate cause.  What I mean by that is one of the big issues in the Midwest has been the loss of jobs and the weakening of organized labor. In Miami, Governor Inslee was the only one to mention it at all in the two debates.  And that is because in his state he has been a successful pro-labor AND pro-business governor and in his signature plan, the Evergreen Economy, he devotes pages to the role that organized labor will play. I think saying “I will create 8 million jobs, develop new industries and help transition those in affected industries with a new GI Bill.  In growing our middle class and reinvigorating organized labor you will be on the front line of also helping fight climate change. It’s not an either-or; it’s a win win!” will reach more people than “We have to take drastic climate action (which we do)… but I will also create millions of jobs.” One places workers, some of whom may be skeptical, at the center of change and progress, instead of sort of giving them dessert only after they’ve had their rhetorical vegetables. So here are some general things he could say on the debate stage:

  • “Not one person on this stage mentioned organized labor in Miami, except me. I didn’t come here to pander to organized labor, who many in this party have forgotten or never really paid attention to. I came to let them know that, as the backbone of our 20th century economy, under my plan they will be the engine of a new 21st century economy. Washington has the best economy in the country because we have embraced workers and the future together.  You can look at my record, my results and my Evergreen Economy plan to see that I’m not here to pander, but to promise that the jobs and the growth of a President Inslee economy will go to the middle class, with empowered union workers leading it, not just being thrown promises and talking points.
  •  (as Inslee has said in some form) “Fossil fuel workers helped build this country. Donald Trump lies and says that coal is their future because to Trump and the GOP the future is a spreadsheet next fiscal quarter and a Rassmussen poll. To me, the future is knowing that your kids and grandkids will be able to grow up in your town and city and find a good job and follow in their family’s footsteps if they want to. My plan calls for a GI Bill for workers in the fossil fuel industry – to help them be part of the transition to a 21st century economy. It’s worked in Washington state and I know it can work for this country. Because for me there are two essential truths relating to our economy and our planet – climate change must be defeated and under an Inslee administration America’s workers will be the ones to win that victory.”
  • Please stop saying “wind turbines don’t cause Cancer; they cause jobs” – it’s not a great line. Instead – “Donald Trump says stupid things like THE SOUND of wind turbines causes Cancer (actually what Trump said, which is even dumber).  He is that committed to fighting science and new jobs because coal and oil lobbyists pay him compliments.  The science of climate change is real, but so is the money that can be made in making America the leader in combatting it.  But Donald Trump, through sheer ineptitude and insecurity would rather lie about science and deny working people a great future because coal and oil executives will tell him what a good boy he is. This is no longer a right or left issue. It is a right or wrong issue.  Washington State has the best economy in the country because being on the right side of science and on the right side of working people is a win-win, not an either-or (only use this one time, even though I used it twice in these bullet points).


  •  Joe Biden – It will be tempting to attack Biden (as I call it to “Beto” him) after Harris drew blood and donations from attacking him.  But I could see this being a tiresome, almost hacky theme for the night. Score points on Biden when clear (“middle ground” on climate change is a good and unforced area to exploit), but don’t make him the Governor’s whipping boy.
  • Kamala Harris – This is where Governor Inslee cannot be afraid to attack BY NAME if the occasion arises. She is polished and also inconsistent and not too grounded in a lot of her policy positions.
    • “She is a sharp and talented politician, but replacing Trump will demand something more than a steep learning curve. This country will need someone ready on Day One.  16 years in Congress and 2 terms as a governor you can bet that I know my position and policy on health care and the other vital issues of our time.”
    • (if in a climate change exchange) “I’m glad Senator Harris has embraced climate change and my terminology” – bait her into “Governor, you don’t have a monopoly on the issue of climate change” to reply with “But I do have the gold standard plan to fight it and not just borrowed platitudes.” Boom goes the dynamite. But don’t engage her unless the Governor is prepared to take a knockout punch. It can be a winning moment FOR SURE, but only if going for the final line.
  • Andrew Yang
    • $1000 a month to everyone is a nice idea, but what’s worked for me as Governor in Washington is to continually look to the future by embracing new industries and focusing on workers’ rights. I find that that has put more than $1000 a month in the accounts of many Washingtonians.”
  • Tulsi Gabbard – She’s peaked at 1% – nothing to go after here. At least Yang provides an angle for a good soundbyte
  • Bill DeBlasio
    • “Perhaps if you interrupted your own governor as much as you interrupt me the NYC subway system would be in better shape”
    •  “Mayor DeBlasio has done some great things for working class families and everything he’s done as a Mayor from minimum wage to Pre K, etc. I have done and more as a governor (careful though – population of NYC is bigger than the state of Washington – but argue forcefully that Governor Inslee accomplished some things without the convenience of one-party rule in NYC)
  • Cory Booker – I like Booker, but don’t see a lot of areas for confrontation, nor really the need to as I think his candidacy will never break into the top tier
  • Julian Castro – the candidate most likely to go overboard (he endorsed abortion rights for trans women in the last debate, which seems like something out of a science fiction novel parodying the modern left). He is probably going to try and follow Harris’ tactic of attacking Biden, but then also try to attack Harris on criminal justice issues. Potentially a positive contrast with Castro on issues like immigration to show you have had success with liberal policies and court action, but perhaps look somewhat moderate in comparison (maybe if a Castro-Bennett argument occurs Governor Inslee can look like a moderate success by comparison)
  • Michael Bennett – I like Bennett and he will probably act as a moderate attack dog, perhaps as a more energetic alternative for Biden voters. I would leave him be for now.
  • Kirsten Gillebrand
    • “When I was in a conservative district I voted for the assault weapons ban and lost my seat. My opinions on guns didn’t change based on what district I was representing.”
    • “Please stop interrupting”

The goal from Detroit is not to become a front runner. It’s 2% or more – I think that’s possible, but it will require more than a good record and a kind demeanor.  Go get it!


What Next for Governor Jay Inslee After The First…

The good news for Governor Jay Inslee is that no one has him in the “had a bad night” category, and a few people have him in the “had a good night” category.  That might be enough for Senator Elizabeth Warren, the front runner of the first debate group, who basically spoke for the first hour and delivered a solid, but overrated performance, and did nothing, almost literally, for the second hour.  People gushing over her safe, not memorable performance feels more like confirmation bias of her status than any real analysis of her performance.

However, in my mind there were three winners: Bill DeBlasio, Julian Castro and Cory Booker.  They expanded the nation’s awareness of them and all had strong individual moments (word for word I think no one was better than Bill DeBlasio – and my friend John had presciently warned me that he thought DeBlasio might try for the same things I wanted Governor Inslee to do – tout specifics about your leadership, your progressive accomplishments and then attack at least one opponent by name.  He did all those with undeniable rhetorical flourish). I was satisfied with Governor Inslee’s performance for sure, but I wanted him to have more of a debate like one of my top three performers.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I believe Governor Inslee needed to name a couple of opponents (with Warren being the obvious) to make a personal distinction between a plan-maker and a lawmaker. He made that point several times (though Amy Klobuchars attempt at a moment, which did get pander-plause was a misguided “I’m a woman so I don’t need a man to tell me about protecting women’s health” when Governor Inslee was simply pointing out the fact that he has passed more laws on the issue as governor than any of the people on the stage. However, the crowd still ate it up so it counts as a point.  But DeBlasio, Castro and Booker, in that order, detected the awkward young gazelle named Beto (as I wrote on Twitter – The CW’s idea of what a president is) as a candidate that they could attack personally. And they did and they all scored points for it.  Governor Inslee scored many points during the evening and used my strategy (inadvertently or nor… I am starting to think his people may have actually read my blogs and tweets – can I have a job?) of invoking accomplishments over plans. And he got a few strong applause (called by CNN the line of the night “The greatest threat to our national security is Donald Trump.”).  But now comes the work (I’ve gotten about 10-15 people to donate to the campaign and at this point that is probably my ceiling as a fundraiser) of adjusting and improving messaging and debating going forward. So here are my tips and ideas for Team Inslee going forward:

  1. Stop saying “Donald Trump says wind turbines cause Cancer; they cause jobs.”  First off, don’t improve Trump’s stupidity. He actually said “they say the noise from win turbines causes Cancer.”  That’s actually dumber. So change the line to “Donald Trump, I’m embarrassed to even repeat this, but Donald Trump says that the NOISE from wind turbines causes Cancer.  The only things the sound of wind turbines indicate are the presence of clean energy and new jobs.” The line the Governor uses now is not as rhetorically catchy as he/the writers may think and it avoids the full stupidity of Trump.
  2.  The “deathbed” or “with my last breath” talk about climate change and the governor’s grandchildren is powerful, but might also be a little bit of a downer.  I would say something more akin to “My father was a biology teacher (humble roots, education – good points) and he instilled in me not only a love of nature, but a respect for it. And as I see my grandkids growing up I want to honor my father, but also honor my grandkids by ensuring that they have a country and a world that is as healthy and beautiful and prosperous as the one my father introduced me to.”
  3.  I must repeat this even though it was the focus of the last blog – NAME. WARREN. (and others who feel applicable).  BCD (Booker, Castro, DeBlasio) all attacked Beto and scored big. It showed they could be fighters (for those worried about Trump’s imposing presence) and it showed a willingness to make important issues personal.  Governor Inslee obviously cares deeply about a host of progressive issues and it shows, but his game on Wednesday night was like watching a great tennis player play against a wall at the park. You can see some of the skills, but only when blasting forehand winners past an opponent do people really get to see the skill and greatness.  Warren was treated like a figurehead at the debate by both the moderators and the other candidates.  Governor Inslee said a couple of times that “plans are great, but as governor…”  As correct as those comments were, he MUST name an opponent and draw blood. Saying some less condescending version of “I like Senator Warren’s plans so much I already made them into law in my state” and then drawing a distinction between ideas and ideas + executive experience is a legitimate one, one that will score points and the kind of attack that doesn’t feel like an attack, but more like a vicious backhanded compliment.
  4. Stop being so polite.  Bill DeBlasio scored points by basically seizing every moment he could. It wasn’t quite NYC rude, but whenever he saw a parking space he took it without hesitation.  I saw Governor Inslee raise his hand at least 4 times and get ingored.  And worst of all, as I feared in a pre-debate tweet, Rachael Maddow wouldn’t let Governor Inslee speak on guns (though he did get in a great quick line about the filibuster) but tried to appease him with being first on climate change (DUH – did anyone not think he would get that question first?).  And as someone who would like a climate debate, but did not demand it – I must admit the climate change coverage in the debate was appallingly low. I think, at the risk of appearing like The Lorax, the Governor should absolutelty hammer the almost GOP level of time devoted to the issue.  Be more like DeBlasio in style – confidently forceful, but not outright rude.  As far as content of those comments – email me! I will work for little money!
  5. Lastly – where to go from here for Governor Inslee.  There needs to either be a town hall or speech in front of a large crowd. Even if he needs to do it in his home state (also Van Jones spoke very highly of the Governor’s performance on CNN last night… and he has an hour long show on CNN on Saturdays…).  Or there needs to be a big ad buy.  He must call out some rivals by name to draw a contrast. He needs a list, but not a boring one of all his accomplishments, laws and progressive consistency through the years.  So here, sort of reiterated from a previous blog post, is my vision of an Inslee ad (or maybe even better a series of individual YouTube/Facebook/Twitter ads that in 15-20 second bursts take each of the bullet points I will share below one by one) that is needed now to change the perception of the candidate and set up the next several months of the campaign (if Inslee’s Super PAC is reading this – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?):
  • Beto talking about climate change followed by picture of Governor Inslee and graphic of various sources citing Washington State’s plan as the best climate change plan in the country and the Evergeen Economy labeled the gold standard by Greenpeace
  • Cory Booker talking about gun violence followed by a picture of a young Rep. Inslee voting for the assault weapons ban and “Vote to ban assault weapons costs Rep. Inslee his seat in Congress” and/or shot of Governor Inslee face to face with Trump about arming teachers in Florida (and I still think the Governor needs a meeting with the Parkland kids – between climate and gun control, the Governor should be THE candidate for young people)
  • Julian Castro talking about immigration followed by Governor Inslee’s debate answer of “fighting Muslim ban, protecting dreamers in Washington, etc. (one of his best answers all night)
  • Elizabeth Warren discussing free college, etc and (I think you get the pattern now – Governor passing tuition-related laws in WA)
  • Joe Biden on “middle ground on climate” followed by climate graphic and quote of the Governor’s choice
  • Bernie talking about taking on Wall Street (followed by Rep Inslee voting against the repeal of Glass-Steagall in Congress)
  • Lastly Trump talking about war with Iran and Rep Inslee voting against the war in Iraq

“My opponents many of whom have great ideas, do not have the track record of progressive accomplishment that I have as governor and as a congressman.  I know I can make it happen as President because while my opponents talk about that they would do; I’ve already made it happen as Governor.”

If Gov Inslee attacks or names so many opponents many will have to come back at him, but the good thing about that is it will reframe his candidacy. If one or two come after you you look like Beto (though the Governor would have a lot more substance to defend himself with), but if 5 or 6 want to show how good they are compared to him it makes him look more like a frontrunner and less like an also-ran.

And one more thing, great Twitter takeover by the Govenror’s wife of 47 years, Trudi.  That video of the Governor sledding at Tom Cruise stunt-level speeds with his grandson should be a viral video.  Embrace the Governor’s record and experience and also that he looks like a rugged westerner who will be able to save the country and beat (phsycially if need be… kidding) Donald Trump.

Donate to Jay Inslee HERE if you like Governor Inslee’s plans or just want more of a platform given to climate change, which he is prioritizing like no other candidate.