Jay Inslee is a fifth-generation Washingtonian who served as a state legislator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Inslee stepped down from his House seat in 2012 to seek the governor’s mansion and was reelected in 2016.
Drawn to environmental causes from a young age, Inslee grew up with a love of the outdoors and is now an accomplished self-described “doodler” of natural scenery and wildlife, a hobby that helps alleviate the stress of working in politics. A vocal advocate of combating climate change, he is also the author of “Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy.”
Climate change: Reverse climate change, lower carbon emissions, 100 percent clean energy
Inslee has long been a champion of climate change action and is making the issue the centerpiece of his presidential run. As a member of Congress, Inslee backed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed the House but ultimately failed in the Senate. As governor, Inslee pushed unsuccessfully for the nation’s first state-level carbon tax. He has also proposed lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and converting state ferries into electric hybrids, among other initiatives. “We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we’re the last who can do something about it,” Inslee said in his 2020 announcement video.
Economy/Trade: Free trade and increase minimum wage
Inslee supports increasing the minimum wage, which is currently $12 in Washington state and will rise to $13.50 in 2020. Inslee signed into law a guaranteed paid family leave plan in 2017, granting eligible parents 12 weeks paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for a serious medical condition. He also signed an Equal Pay Opportunity Act that requires employees receive equal pay and work opportunities regardless of gender. Inslee opposes the Trump administration’s trade policies. He has said that “any punitive tariffs to the Asian markets are felt deeply” in the state of Washington. Inslee believes in a positive working relationship with trade partners and open access to foreign trade markets.
Health care: Move towards universal health care
Inslee backed the Affordable Care Act when it was up for a vote during his time in Congress. In 2013, as governor, he expanded Medicaid under the ACA in his state. Recently he introduced a public option health care plan to help stabilize the state’s health insurance exchange. Inslee said it would be an initial step toward creating universal health care in the state.
Immigration: Opposes the travel ban and supports “Dreamers”
Inslee gained national attention in 2017 when Washington state sued the Trump administration over its travel ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries. He supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and believes in a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” brought to the country illegally as children. He created a legal fund to help undocumented families impacted by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. He also signed a law in Washington that creates college aid for undocumented students.
Social issues: Protect a woman’s right to choose, supports LGBTQ rights and against capital punishment
On abortion rights, Inslee believes in a woman’s right to choose and opposed the Trump administration’s announcement that it would prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions. Inslee is a proponent of LGBTQ rights and backed legalizing same-sex marriage in his state. During his first term as governor, he instituted a moratorium on the death penalty (the state’s supreme court struck down capital punishment last year).
Foreign policy: Syrian refugees welcome
Inslee supports refugees’ rights, and has focused on people displaced by the conflict in Syria. Inslee wrote a letter to the State Department last year after U.S. airstrikes in Syria in which he criticized the Trump administration’s restrictive refugee policies.