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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gov. Jay Inslee announces re-election bid; AG Bob Ferguson also will seek re-election

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, speaks as Gov. Jay Inslee looks on at a news conference in this June 2018 photo. Inslee will seek a third term as governor of Washington, and Ferguson will seek his third term as attorney general, both men said Thursday after Inslee announced an end to his presidential aspirations in 2020. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

Gov. Jay Inslee made it official on Thursday, announcing he’d be seeking a third term in the governor’s mansion in 2020.

Inslee made the announcement in an email to supporters and on Twitter, following Wednesday night’s appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” in which the 68-year-old said he was abandoning his campaign for the presidency.

“I want to continue to stand with you in opposing Donald Trump and rejecting his hurtful and divisive agenda, while strengthening and enhancing Washington state’s role as a progressive beacon for the nation,” Inslee said on Twitter on Thursday morning.

The governor’s announcement that he would seek a third term was not unexpected, after multiple sources told the Associated Press on Wednesday evening that Inslee intended to defend his seat. Under Washington state law, there is no limit on the number of terms a governor may serve.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has said publicly he was waiting for Inslee to make a decision about his political future before weighing in on a governor’s run, also said Thursday he’d be seeking another term as the state’s top lawyer, while lauding Inslee’s singular focus on climate change in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in a crowded field.

“Gov. Jay Inslee should be proud of his success promoting climate change as an urgent issue demanding immediate action,” Ferguson said in a statement posted to Twitter.

“I support Governor Inslee’s re-election, and I will pursue another term as Attorney General,” the statement concludes.

Ferguson, too, will seek his third term in office after first being elected as attorney general in 2012. Since 2016, Ferguson has made a habit of challenging the Trump administration on issues including immigration, environmental regulations and student debt. There is no term limit for his post, either.

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who had also spoken of an interest in running for governor, released a statement Thursday saying she, too, would support Inslee for governor and seek a second term as head of Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.

“Washington faces major challenges, in both rural and urban areas, from protecting our environment to funding schools to creating economic opportunity for all workers. Jay Inslee has been a leader in tackling one of the biggest threats we face – climate change, and that’s why I support his re-election for Governor,” Franz said in a statement.

Inslee’s presidential campaign has about $1.2 million cash on hand, according to the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission. That money could be transferred to his state campaign for governor in accordance with federal and Washington laws, if his campaign receives approval from donors for the transfer and those donors have not yet met the $2,000 contribution limit to a candidate for executive state office established by law.

Inslee has raised $974,705 to support a run for governor, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. But he’s also racked up expenses totaling $1.2 million.

Tina Podlodowski, chair of the state Democratic Party, endorsed Inslee’s re-election bid in a statement Thursday morning.

“I am thrilled that Governor Inslee is seeking a third term, as are Democrats across our state, and I believe Washington will continue to prosper under his compassionate and visionary leadership,” Podlodowski said in the statement.

Caleb Heimlich, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, also issued a statement on Twitter indicating a fight from the GOP for the office.

“Welcome back to Washington State @Jayinslee! The voters here still don’t want a state income tax, don’t want a carbon tax, and would love to see some real leadership in addressing traffic congestion and homelessness,” Heimlich wrote. “That’s why we are looking for new leadership in 2020!”

A handful of Republicans had already filed to run in 2020 before Inslee’s announcement. They include state Sen. Phil Fortunato of Auburn, and Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, who has pushed back on a voter-approved initiative to limit sales of semiautomatic guns.

Though there’s no term-limit on governors in Washington state, a third term for Inslee would be an outlier. The last and only Washington governor to hold the office for three terms was Gov. Daniel J. Evans, a Republican who served from 1965 to 1977.