Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, July 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 73° Partly Cloudy
News >  WA Government

Spin Control: Gov. Inslee still pushing for climate debate

Democratic presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during an event at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 16, 2019, during an event where he unveiled part of his plan to defeat climate change. The Democratic National Committee recently turned down Inslee’s request to have the national party sponsor a debate on climate change. The committee also threatened to uninvite him to any future debates if he appeared at a debate on climate change sponsored by someone else. (Susan Walsh / AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during an event at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 16, 2019, during an event where he unveiled part of his plan to defeat climate change. The Democratic National Committee recently turned down Inslee’s request to have the national party sponsor a debate on climate change. The committee also threatened to uninvite him to any future debates if he appeared at a debate on climate change sponsored by someone else. (Susan Walsh / AP)

Jay Inslee, the governor who would be president, shows no signs of giving up on his quest to get a debate on climate change, the issue at the heart of his campaign.

He’s getting some help from the hustings, after the Democratic National Committee didn’t just turn down his request for the national party to sponsor a debate but threatened to uninvite him to any future debates if he had the temerity to appear at a debate on climate change sponsored by someone else.

Some state Democratic Party leaders are balking at the national committee’s “no dice” stance, including the Washington State Democratic Party, which was hoping for a two-fer with the climate debate. They were pushing for the debate to be in Washington state as well as having a local guy show off his chops on the issue.

Nastygrams were also sent the DNC via social media from MoveOn, US Youth Climate Strike, Sierra Club, Women’s March and others.

Inslee is trying to get other candidates to join him in attempting to convince the DNC to change its mind. Several support the idea of a debate just on climate change, including Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke.

It’s possible the DNC, still smarting from the allegations – mostly true – that it was in the tank for Hillary Clinton in 2016, might give in.

But if the national party doesn’t relent, there is a scenario that could play out in the fall as the committee ups the threshold for candidates to qualify for later debates. Those who don’t quite have the higher polling numbers or longer donor lists wouldn’t be out anything if they give the DNC the one-finger salute and agree to participate in a climate debate that one of the progressive organizations sponsors.

It would be controversial, which means some cable news network will cover it live because that’s what cable news thrives on. Even if most of the debate is so technical it puts half the viewers to sleep, some candidate will be declared the winner, get a bounce in the polls, be lauded as the new darling of young voters and the environmental wing. And have a chance to resuscitate his or her campaign.

Of course, the losers will be get a one-way ticket to Palookaville, as Marlon Brando said in “On the Water Front.” But they were already headed that way anyway, so this was just a detour on the way to the bus station.

Not your standard endorsement

Emails from Democratic presidential candidates are filling the space in my inbox vacated by legislative emails. Although they range from the wonky to the wild any given day, the most unusual missive last week came from former Sen. Mike Gavel, telling folks he was endorsed by Muntadher al-Zaidi.

For readers without the encyclopedic knowledge that would allow them to bet everything they have on the Final Jeopardy category of “American presidential weirdness,” al-Zaidi is the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference in 2008.

Gravel apparently sent al-Zaidi his platform, which includes withdrawal of U.S. forces from foreign theaters, and al-Zaidi sent back his endorsement from Baghdad.

“We’re honored to have his support,” a Gravel spokesman said.

Gravel hasn’t qualified for the debates yet. Al-Zaidi’s endorsement isn’t likely to put him over the top.

On a local note

Organizers of two proposed ballot measures for Spokane city voters are expected to turn in their signatures Monday afternoon. One would prevent the city from passing an income tax. The other would require contract negotiations between government officials and public employees’ unions to be open to the public.

Better Spokane, the political action group sponsoring the initiatives, needs about 2,300 valid signatures from registered city voters on each. Treasurer Michael Cathcart estimated Friday they had about 3,400 signatures and will be pushing through the weekend to get more because petition drives always have a certain number disqualified for being from folks who either aren’t registered or aren’t city voters.

Better Spokane has spent $30,000 with the signature-buying firm Ballot Access LLC, so one would expect they’ll get their money’s worth.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com