DemDaily: The First Governors: The Contenders

March 4, 2019

Two more candidates, both from western states, have entered the Democratic presidential contest and quest to take on Donald Trump, or the Republican nominee, in 2020.

They are also the first governors to enter the race. The state house is traditionally considered the best breeding ground for presidential hopefuls as lawmakers who have served as administrators rather than those who have legislated through votes.

Governor Jay Inslee
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced last Friday, March 1st, declaring his commitment to a bold national Climate Mission that will meet that challenge and create millions of good jobs building a more just, innovative and inclusive American economy.

"We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it." -- Governor Jay Inslee, 2020 presidential announcement

The current Governor of Washington State, Inslee, 68, was raised in Seattle, a fifth-generation Washingtonian. A graduate of the University of Washington and Willamette University College of Law, he served as a criminal prosecutor before being elected to the Washington House of Representatives, where he served from 1989 to 1993.

Jay Inslee (WA) Announcement (Click!) (pic: NBC/KOTI-TV)

In 1992, Inslee was elected to represent Washington's Fourth Congressional District, but was defeated for reelection in 1994.

After an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1996, he served as regional director for the US Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Inslee ran again for Congress in 1998, this time unseating two-term incumbent Republican Rick White in the First Congressional District, which included Seattle's northern suburbs in King County, Snohomish County and Kitsap County.

During his seventh term he left Congress to run for Governor in 2012, winning 51.5% to 48.5% over state Attorney General and Republican nominee Rob McKenna. He was reelected to a second term in 2016, defeating Republican Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, 54% to 46%.

Inslee served as Chair of the Democratic Governors Association for the 2018 election cycle, when Democrats won 16 seats, netting seven -- the most gubernatorial seats flipped by any party since 1994.

In Congress, Inslee was one of the chamber's most ardent advocates for combating global warming and one of the strongest defenders of the Clean Air Act. As governor he has pushed for clean energy, information technology and has led an alliance of states committed to upholding the Paris Agreement.

Campaign WebsiteInslee for America
BookApollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy (2007). Co-written by Bracken Hendricks.

 

Declared 2020 Candidates
Democratic nomination: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (TX), former Congressman John Delaney (MD), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Governor Jay Inslee (WA), former Governor John Hickenlooper (CO), and Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala Harris (CA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA), as well as Author Marianne Williamson (CA) and entrepreneur Andy Yang (CA).
Independent: former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
 Republicans: President Donald Trump, former Governor Bill Weld (MA)

John Hickenlooper
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, 67, entered the 2020 race today, releasing an online video with pictures of Trump overlaid with the words, "I'm running for president because we're facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for."

Hickenlooper, who served as the 42nd Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019, was born in Narberth, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Wesleyan University. After his career as a geologist, he launched a successful business career as co-founder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988.

John Hickenlooper (CO) announcement (Click!)

He was elected the 43rd mayor of Denver, serving from 2003 until 2011, and in 2005 was named by Time as one of the top five big-city mayors in the US.

In 2010 Hickenlooper defeated former congressman Tom Tancredo, running on the American Constitution Party ticket, 51%-36.4%, to become Governor of Colorado.

He was re-elected to a second term in 2014, defeating Republican former U.S. representative Bob Beauprez by 49% to 46%.

A moderate and "pro-business" Governor, Hickenlooper helped draw companies to Colorado and is credited with technical innovations in job growth.

He touts his environmentally friendly methane emissions laws, creating Colorado's ACA insurance exchange,  expanding Medicaid, and passing tough gun control legislation after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

"I've proven again and again I can bring together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver." -- former Governor John Hickenlooper, 2020 presidential announcement
Campaign Website: Hickenlooper 2020
Book: The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics (2016)

 

Waiting in the Wings
Former US Vice President and US Senator Joe Biden (DE), Senator Michael Bloomberg, former NYC Mayor and founder/CEO of Bloomberg LP, US Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and former Congressman and Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Other names still in play: US Senators Michael Bennet (CO) and Jeff Merkley (OR), Governors Steve Bullock (MT), and former Governor Terry McAuliffe (VA). Former US Attorney General Eric Holder has taken himself out of the running, citing his dedication to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

Latest Standings
A Harvard-Harris Poll, conducted February 19-20, 2019 of registered voters showed Joe Biden leading with 30%, followed by Bernie Sanders (19%), Kamala Harris (10%), Cory Booker (5%), Elizabeth Warren (4%) and Beto O'Rourke (4%).

Related
DemDaily: Born To Run 2/1/19  (Booker, Buttigieg)
DemDaily: Women Wade In 1/22/19 (Harris, Gillibrand, Gabbard)
DemDaily: Out of the Gate 1/2/19 (Delaney, Castro, Warren)

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: New York Times, USToday, MSNBC, ABCNews

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