SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee, a Democrat who sought to make the state a leader on progressive policies from climate change to gun violence prevention, said Monday he will not seek a fourth term in office.
The 72-year-old’s announcement clears the way for younger members of the party to run, most notably Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who gained a national profile by challenging the travel ban and other policies of former President Donald Trump.
“As governor, I have seen my role as inspiring our state ever forward and ever higher,” Inslee said. “I’m gratified to be able to say that this approach has worked to improve Washingtonians lives in many ways and many places.”
Inslee was first elected in 2012 and became only the second Washington governor elected to three consecutive terms. He made a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 on an environmental platform but gained little traction.
Among his accomplishments he lists a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions in the state and a trio of gun violence prevention measures that he signed into law last month, including a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles that is already being challenged in court by gun rights advocates.
Early this year the state Supreme Court upheld a capital gains tax Inslee promoted as a way to address what was considered the nation’s most regressive tax system.
He also vowed to protect gay rights and abortion access as conservative states constrained them, and he bought the state a three-year stockpile of a popular abortion drug in anticipation of court rulings that could limit its availability.
Inslee said he still has work to do before his exit, including collaborating with legislators and community leaders to address Washington’s homelessness crisis and speeding efforts to broaden behavioral health services.