Washington's Democratic governor Jay Inslee to step down

May 2, 2023
Matthew Boose

Jay Inslee, the leftist governor of Washington state, is calling it quits after three terms in office.

The Democrat announced his plans to resign Monday, saying he's ready to "pass the torch" after a "decade of dynamic change."

Inslee prioritized climate change, and it was his main issue as a presidential candidate in 2020. After his campaign sputtered out, he went on to win a third term as governor by a cozy margin of 13 points.

Inslee stepping down

The governor also backed progressive issues like criminal justice reform and gun control. He signed a sweeping "police reform" bill in 2021 only to revise the law a year later, clarifying that police are able to use force to detain a suspect during a "terry stop," in which there is "reasonable suspicion" of a crime.

Crime and homelessness in Seattle, Washington's largest city, skyrocketed on Inslee's watch. When a group of anarchists notoriously seized control of a part of the city during the 2020 George Floyd riots, Inslee infamously said he was unaware of the occupation.

A press release from Inslee boasted about his efforts on gun control, climate change, "equity," and "diversity," including "the first-ever raising of the Juneteenth and Pride flags at the Capitol."

“During a decade of dynamic change, we’ve made Washington a beacon for progress for the nation. I’m ready to pass the torch," he said.

Inslee won praise from President Biden just days go for signing a sweeping "assault weapons" ban into law.

Who's next?

A bill in the Washington legislature would allow minors to undergo sex changes without parental consent. Inslee, an unapologetic ally of "trans youth," has yet to signal how he'll vote.

He said he would spend his remaining time in office addressing homelessness, mental health and drug services, and climate change.

Democrats who could seek Inslee's place include attorney general Bob Ferguson and Land Commissioner Hilary Franz. Possible Republican candidates include Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeie and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump's second impeachment.

Herrera Beutler lost an open primary last year to Trump-allied Republican Joe Kent and Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who went on to beat Kent in the general election.

Republicans also failed to unseat Senator Pat Murray (D) in a race that was seen as a potential upset for the Democrats. A Republican hasn't served as governor in the state since the 1980s.

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