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Inslee announces re-election for Washington governor after ending White House bid

Jay Inslee drops out of presidential race

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has ended his 2020 presidential bid, announced on Thursday that he'll seek a third term as governor. Inslee made the official announcement in an email to supporters, saying he the successes he's had at the state level "gives me confidence that we can continue to lead the nation in so many ways."

"Our multiple accomplishments have paved the way for much to come in the next term. We've created the first public option for health care in the nation, the highest increase in average public school teacher pay in the country, and the fastest growing economy in America. That's what we do in Washington — we're innovators, builders, creators — and I am eager to build and expand on this unique record of progress and economic success for the people of our great state," Inslee wrote in his email. The Associated Press first reported Inslee's plans. 

He added, "We've made incredible progress together, but there's much more to do. Make no mistake — we will not be resting on our laurels. We fully intend for Washington's future to be every bit as dynamic, innovative, and inclusive as its past."

Inslee, who made fighting climate change the central theme of his presidential campaign, announced Wednesday night that he was ending his campaign after nearly six months.

Inslee said that he was confident that Democrats would select a nominee who would champion climate change issues but that it had become clear that he wouldn't be the person selected. Inslee said he was not endorsing anyone but would support whoever is the nominee.

"I believe we're going to have a candidate to fight this battle," he said on MSNBC. "I'm inspired by the people I've met across the country. I'm not going to carry the ball but we're going to make sure somebody is."

Inslee, who had previously been scheduled to visit New Hampshire on Thursday, will now be back in Washington state for a morning news conference at Planned Parenthood in Seattle regarding the Title X family planning program.

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.

Franz said Wednesday night that she's not disappointed that she won't be entering the governor's race, saying that she loved her current job and has "a lot of work to do."

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.

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