After Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday night that he is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, climate campaigners expressed gratitude for his visionary environmental agenda and his efforts to elevate the planetary emergency to the center of the Democratic primary contest.
"We'll miss you in this race, Jay Inslee," tweeted Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate group that Inslee cited as a key inspiration behind his campaign. "Thank you for setting the pace for our elected leaders on the climate crisis, running a historic campaign, and elevating this issue for all of us. We know this isn't the end of our work together."
Inslee made public his decision to exit the 2020 race during an interview on MSNBC Wednesday night.
"I've been fighting climate change for 25 years, and I've never been so confident of the ability of America now to reach critical mass, to move the ball," said Inslee. "I believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle."
"I'm inspired by the people I've met across this country, the young people in the Sunrise Movement and the climate strikers," Inslee added. "These people have given me confidence we can move ahead."
“I’m inspired by the people I’ve met across this country, the young people in the @sunrisemvmt, the climate strikers. These people have given me confidence we can move ahead.”@JayInslee is dropping out and I am legit sad. pic.twitter.com/FlOFGMNLvo— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) August 22, 2019
Inslee's decision to leave the race comes just before the Democratic National Committee is set to vote on whether to host a 2020 presidential debate focused specifically on the climate crisis—an idea Inslee persistently advocated alongside grassroots climate activists.
The move also comes two weeks ahead of a televised presidential forum on the climate crisis hosted by CNN.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), two of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates planning to participate in the CNN forum next month, were among those who applauded Inslee for his campaign:
Congratulations to @JayInslee on his impactful campaign to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of the national conversation. There is no more important issue facing humanity. Together we will work to pass a Green New Deal and create millions of jobs.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 22, 2019
Thank you @JayInslee for fighting every day to make sure that climate change remains a primary focus of this election. Climate change is real and it's a crisis—and I will keep fighting alongside you to take bold action before it is too late.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 22, 2019
In a series of tweets late Wednesday, Inslee emphasized that while he will no longer be vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, he plans to continue doing everything in his power to "ensure the fight to defeat climate change stays at the top of the national agenda."
"Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we've seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we've seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums," said the Washington governor.
"So early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and organize," Inslee added. "Together, we will continue the fight to defeat the climate crisis."