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!