Governor Inslee continues to fundraise for the campaign

Since Governor Jay Inslee was re-elected for a third term in 2020, his campaign operation has not ceased, or even hibernated.

He continued to send out regular and urgent fundraising appeals for a potential candidacy for a fourth term in two years.

The usual refrain is something like: Friends, please rush me some money before this month’s deadline or a VERY BAD THING will happen (because of the Republicans)!

Those appeals have attracted more than $600,000 in donors since last year for Inslee’s officially registered 2024 re-election campaign committee, according to documents filed by the Public Disclosure Commission. Adding in excess funds from his last campaign, Inslee’s re-election campaign has already raised about $1.5 million.

That doesn’t mean Inslee, 71, will seek an unprecedented fourth term as governor. Yet he does not rule it out.

Aisling Kerins, Inslee’s campaign consultant, said in an email that the governor “is focused on protecting our pro-choice majorities and preparing for the next legislative session and has not yet made a decision regarding 2024”.

No Washington governor has been elected to four terms, and some Democrats are skeptical. Inslee will try to be first.

“Only Jay can answer that question, but I would put it in the highly unlikely category, said Ron Dotzauer, a veteran Democratic political consultant who runs public affairs and lobbying firm Strategies 360.

“Keeping fundraising isn’t a signal you’re going to run,” Dotzauer added, noting that politicians of all stripes like to continue campaign operations to show they’re still viable and keep options open.

“I don’t know what he thinks,” said Seferiana Day, a Democratic political strategist and partner at Seattle consulting firm Upper Left Strategies. But she said Inslee could move on with a significant record of achievement on issues including climate change and protecting abortion access.

“If he wants to step down after three terms, that would be great,” Day said, noting that a decision by Inslee to forfeit reelection would create a “domino effect” of political opportunity for a diverse set of candidates from across the country. top to bottom.

“I think there’s an opportunity for new leadership to step in,” Day said.

In a state with no term limits, Inslee’s long tenure as governor has stalled the ambitions of other Democrats who have openly considered the job, including Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz and Director of King Dow Constantine County.

All three had expressed an interest in running for governor in 2020, but resigned when Inslee decided to seek a third term after his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination failed.

An open gubernatorial seat would also give Republicans a chance to field an unincumbent candidate for the post, which has remained under Democratic control since 1985.

For now, while he’s keeping his options open, Inslee’s fundraising calls are being made regularly, using the genre’s common crisis lingo.

On July 22, he asked people to donate $10 “to enshrine the right to abortion” in the state. On Aug. 31, he pleaded for 182 more donors to give, “to stop future climate disasters” by keeping the state under Democratic control.

It’s unclear how dedicated donations to a re-election campaign that may never happen would impact these issues, as much of the money raised by the governor’s re-election campaign in a typical month serves to maintain its campaign fundraising operation.

Inslee has also used his huge fundraising list to raise money for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who is running for Congress in Washington’s southwest 3rd congressional district.

In an email to donors last month, Inslee described Joe Kent, the Donald Trump-backed Republican challenger who ousted U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in the primary, as “one of the most extreme candidates” in the world. country. The email asked for donations that would be split between Inslee’s campaign and Gluesenkamp Perez’s.

Despite the constant calls, Inslee’s fundraising pace hasn’t been too fast lately.

In his latest PDC summary report, covering the month of August, he raised about $15,200, while spending $29,200, leaving a cash balance of $28,700. (He also has $325,000 in a surplus funds account, money he could transfer to a re-election campaign.)

A significant portion of Inslee’s monthly campaign spending goes to paying his consultant, Kerins, and longtime fundraiser, Tracy Newman, who each receive about $8,000 a month, or $160,000 each since the year latest, according to PDC reports.

Inslee also donated $18,000 to the State House Democratic Campaign Committee for this year’s ballot.

Early last year, Inslee’s campaign spent $138,000 on digital ads, including one touting its “bold climate agenda,” according to a copy of the ad provided by Kerins.

The governor signed into law major packages of climate legislation that year passed by the Democratic-majority Legislature, including a cap on carbon emissions and a clean fuel standard.

“Support for the Governor is often due to his leadership in the fight against climate change, so it’s no surprise that we’re showcasing his commitment to continuing to progress in our communications with supporters,” Kerins said.

This week, Inslee is traveling overseas on a 10-day trade mission to Finland, Sweden and Norway, as part of a 45-person delegation made up of business, education and government leaders from Washington. According to Inslee spokesman Jaime Smith, the trip is funded by a mix of private sponsors, funds budgeted by the Legislative Assembly for the Finnish portion of the trip, and fees paid by delegates who join the mission. .

After the trade mission, Inslee will take a personal vacation to Europe with his wife, Trudi, and return to the state Sept. 30, according to the governor’s office. They will pay the costs associated with personal travel, Smith said. While Inslee is out of the country, Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck will serve as acting governor.

Recent history — and the pace of political cycles — suggest Inslee may not make his re-election plans known until the next session of the Legislative Assembly, a 105-day budget-drafting session to be held in early January and will continue until March.

Christine Gregoire, Inslee’s predecessor as governor, bowed out around this time in June 2011, after serving two terms.

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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