Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his Democratic presidential bid on Friday, making him the first governor to enter an already-crowded field of senators and other hopefuls battling to challenge President Trump in 2020.
Inslee, 68, a former congressman representing the Seattle district, officially announced his decision in a video and at an event in Seattle.
"It is time for our nation to set a new priority," he told supporters at a solar panel business Friday afternoon. "This is truly our moment. It is our moment to solve America's most daunting challenge and make it the first, foremost and paramount duty of the United States...to defeat climate change."
“We went to the moon and created technologies that have changed the world—our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change,” Inslee said in his video announcement posted early Friday morning. “This is our moment, our climate, our mission. Together, we can defeat climate change. That’s why I’m running for president.”
Inslee has already made early campaign stops in states like New Hampshire and Nevada—both of which hold early primary contests.
While Inslee is the only governor in the race so far, he remains lesser known than a number of high-profile contenders, including Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Amy Klobuchar; D-Minn.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are also mulling runs for the White House. In the coming weeks, other high-profile politicians, like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, may announce their 2020 campaigns.
Inslee acknowledged that, of the crowded field, he is an underdog, but underscored his stance on climate change saying he expects it to set him apart, arguing that no presidential candidate has launched a campaign as focused on climate change and environmental policy as he will.
But the Republican National Committee said Inslee’s announcement will only push other Democratic candidates further to the left.
“Jay Inslee’s chances of becoming president are exactly what he’s polling at: zero,” RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens said in a statement Friday. “His campaign will only force Democrats into embracing more extreme policies, like a carbon tax, which would kill jobs, raise energy prices, and disproportionately hurt working-class Americans.”
During his administration in Washington, Inslee has promoted clean energy, gay rights, abortion rights, environmental preservation, tighter gun restrictions and more government spending for education and job training. Most recently, Inslee called for a state-based public option health insurance plan in Washington that he called a “step toward universal healthcare.”
He has also been deeply critical of President Trump, telling Fox News in January that the president is “a fearful man who is a pessimist, who doesn’t believe we’re smart enough to beat climate change.”
Asked if he’s a one-issue candidate, Inslee in January told Fox News that “climate change is the issue in all of our issues. Climate change is a health care issue. It is an economic development issue. It is a national security issue. It’s an educational issue. So it touches everything.”
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.