OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his bid for a third term as governor in an email to supporters, saying that while it was an honor to run for president, he wants to continue his work leading the state.
Inslee sent the email detailing his plans hours before he was to appear at a news conference at Planned Parenthood in Seattle regarding the Title X family planning program. He wrote that Washington state "shows the economic power of progressive action."
"We have provided the nation a road map for innovation, economic growth, and progressive action," he wrote. "And we're not done yet."
Inslee ended his 2020 presidential bid Wednesday night after nearly six months. He had made fighting climate change the central theme of his campaign. He said he was confident that Democrats would select a nominee who would champion climate change issues.
Governors in Washington state aren't subject to term limits, though most haven't served more than two terms. The last three-term governor in Washington was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.
While the filing deadline for the state's 2020 elections isn't until next May, three Democrats had already signaled they would run for governor, but only if Inslee didn't: Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and King County Executive Dow Constantine. The political dominos continued with Democratic candidates lining up to run for attorney general and lands commissioner if Ferguson and Franz end up not seeking reelection to their posts. All have said they wouldn't challenge incumbents if Inslee ran for a third term.
Franz said Wednesday night that she's not disappointed that she won't be entering the governor's race, saying that she loves her current job and has "a lot of work to do." Ferguson also says he will seek reelection to a third term.
State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich said that he thinks Inslee could be vulnerable in a reelection bid.
"Getting elected to a third term is a tough task," he said. "And doing so on the heels of a failed presidential campaign where you sent a message to voters that you want a different job, that doesn't sit very well."
A few Republicans have already announced plans to run for governor, including Phil Fortunato, a state senator, and Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, in eastern Washington. A Republican has not occupied the governor's office in more than three decades.
Inslee, 68, became the third Democrat to end his presidential bid after U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California pulled out of the primary last month, followed by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.
While Inslee had qualified for the first two presidential debates this summer, he struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field and was falling short of the requirements needed to appear on two high-profile stages next month: the third DNC debate in Houston and a CNN town hall focused on climate change, Inslee's key issue.
He had recently hit one of the markers — 130,000 unique donors. But he had yet to reach 2% in any poll and would have needed to hit that level of support in four qualifying polls.