WA Gov. Inslee Not Seeking a Fourth Term in Office: A Look Back on his Legacy

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Washington State governor Jay Inslee announced on Monday that he has decided not to try for another term as governor, signaling what will be the end of the longest governorship in Washington State history for the past 40 years.

Inslee, 72, who is the longest-serving governor in the United States today, released an official statement from Olympia declaring “Serving the people as governor…has been my greatest honor. During a decade of dynamic change, we’ve made Washington a beacon for progress for the nation. I’m ready to pass the torch.” 

During his 10 years in office, Inslee has been a local and national face for causes such as climate change, gun control, childcare and abortion; he made climate change his central issue during a short-lived presidential campaign in 2020. At the state level, he has signed and championed several bills related to these issues, such as:

  1. The Clean Energy Transformation Act, which seeks to have the state’s electricity be 100% generated by renewable energy by 2045.
  2. House Bill 1240, signed into law on April 25, which bans assault weapons.
  3. House Bill 1469, which bars the courts and police from assisting in the prosecution of people seeking abortion in this state by states that have banned it and protects clinicians from being sued from such states for performing an abortion.
  4. The Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which provides up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave, or 16 weeks of a combination of the two. 

The governor has been a supporter of other political causes as well. He has supported minimum wage increases, signed a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, sought to move Washington towards universal health care and supported increasing funding for public education. The assault weapons ban in this state was preceded by a ban on bump stocks and high-capacity magazines, as well as a waiting period to buy guns, all of which Inslee supported. 

Inslee has been in politics since 1985, when he advocated for the construction of a new high school. He became a member of the state House of Representatives in 1988. In 1993, he became a congressman, lost re-election, and then won again in 1999. He stayed there until 2013, when he began his first term as governor. 

Before entering politics, Inslee grew up in Seattle. He graduated from Ingraham High School and initially went to Stanford before being forced to drop out because he could not obtain a scholarship. He then went to the University of Washington, getting a BA in economics before going to Willamette University and getting a law degree. He went on to work as a prosecutor in the town of Selah before first entering politics. 

Who will be the next governor is a topic of much discussion. Bob Ferguson, the state Attorney General, announced his campaign for governor on Tuesday. Hillary Fraz, the state commissioner for public lands, has said she is considering running. No Republican has yet announced they’re running, but Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier is more popular than any other candidate, according to a March poll.