Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

No Fourth Term for Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who has been on the job for 11 years, is the longest-tenured governor in the country right now. In part, that's a testament to his political skill and his effectiveness. In part, it's a testament to the fact that Washington is one of only 14 states that doesn't have term limits for governors. Although a fourth term is his for the asking, Inslee announced this week that he's not interested, and that it's time to pass the torch to the next generation.

Like most states with a deep blue hue, the Democratic bench in Washington is deep. Thus far, only state-level officials have expressed interest, with state AG Bob Ferguson declaring yesterday and state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz all-but-certain to jump in. Of course, both of the state's senators are Democrats, and so too are eight of the ten members of the House delegation, and any of them could decide they might like to try something new. The blue team also controls just shy of 60% of the seats in both chambers of the state legislature, so a candidate or two could come from there.

The Republican bench, of course, is much less crowded. The two current Republican members of the House delegation (Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers) are in safe districts and not likely to be interested in giving that up for a longshot chance at the governor's mansion. The most likely candidate(s) are probably former House members, like Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dave Reichert. Whoever runs from the red side of the aisle is going to face the daunting fact that the Democrats have held the governorship of Washington since 1985, currently the longest uninterrupted streak in the country for the blue team (and third overall to the stranglehold that the Republicans have on the South Dakota and Utah governorships). And in case you're wondering, Washington hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1994. So, anywhere you look, the odds for a member of the GOP to win statewide are pretty grim. And for governor, Washington has a top-two primary, so there's a decent chance that no Republican makes it to the general election.

As to Inslee, he once had presidential aspirations, though that didn't work out too well for him. He's not likely to challenge Joe Biden in 2024, while a successful run in 2028 would have Inslee turning 79 just weeks after being sworn in. We do not imagine that the American people would have an appetite for multiple octogenarian presidents in the same decade. So, one has to assume that this is the end of line for the Governor after a distinguished career in public service. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates