Jay Inslee, all in.
  • E.S.
  • Jay Inslee, all in.
Earlier this afternoon, at a press conference to announce that he's stepping down from Congress to devote himself full time for the race for governor, Democrat Jay Inslee said that he simply needs to be "where I can do the most good."

That place, he said, is in Washington State, full time, talking to people "from Hoquim to Humptulips, from Starbuck to Sequim."

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Inslee portrayed this as a very hard decision, and admitted that it does deprive Washington State of a vote in Congress for the time being, but argued: "We need to have a governor who will work full time to be elected."

In a statement released immediately after Inslee's announcement, President Barack Obama said:

Through the course of more than 20 years working on behalf of Washington State, including more than a decade in Congress, Jay Inslee has never forgotten where he came from. A son of the Pacific Northwest, Jay has been a champion of our natural resources while pushing for new sources of clean energy. Jay has supported new frontiers in technology, and worked to increase fairness in our nation’s health care system. While Jay’s voice in Congress will be missed, I know he will continue his dedicated service to the people of Washington State. Michelle and I wish him and his family well in the future.

As a campaign event, today's speech from Inslee sounded a lot like a re-launch. (Until recently, polls have consistently shown Inslee lagging behind Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the race, and while there have been two polls in the last couple of weeks showing Inslee even with McKenna, both of those polls are associated with Democratic interests.)

Inslee sought to portray it as more of a doubling down—and said he was inspired to do this now, in part, by the recent Senate Republican budget coup in Olympia, which pushed through a proposed budget that cuts funding for higher education and K-12.

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"That's totally unacceptable," Inslee said, repeating his call for McKenna—who has cast himself as the education candidate—to repudiate the Republicans' budget plan.

Also, Inslee said—perhaps in response to a "Where's Jay?" sense that had built up among some supporters as he divided his time between Washington State and Washington D.C.—"I need to get out there... I am going everywhere, I am going to explore everything, and I am going to listen to everybody. If you have an idea, I want to hear it. If you have a problem, I want to know it. If you have a business, I want to help you grow it. I am all in."

Full speech, as prepared for delivery, in the jump.

Thank you all for joining me here today.

Today I am announcing that I’m devoting myself full time to this race and to creating jobs, and I’m stepping down from my seat in Congress.

I am excited about coming home full-time to push my job-creation agenda and build a new economy for Washington state.

We have a great chance to seize our own destiny, build our own industries, create our own technological revolutions right here at home.

We have a great chance to protect the best of Washington, it's open-minded-ness, it's inclusiveness, it's forward-thinking that has led the nation.

But only if we fight to keep our state on the path of advancement.

But to do these things we must have a governor who has the vision to build a working Washington, the experience to build a working Washington, and the ceaseless determination to build a working Washington.

That's why today I am committing myself to the full-time responsibility of winning the governorship and building a new economy, creating jobs for the people of Washington state.

I am going to give everything I have to the cause of winning the governorship and building a working Washington, and I am going to hold nothing back.

I am not one for half measures or half-hearted efforts.

I am going to leave everything on the field.

I am going everywhere, I am going to explore everything, and I am going to listen to everybody.

If you have an idea, I want to hear it.

If you have a problem, I want to know it.

If you have a business, I want to help you grow it.

I am all in.

I am getting up every morning, seven days a week, to go out and listen to the people of Washington
about their needs, their ideas, their dreams - from Hoquim to Humptulips,
from Starbuck to Sequim - so that they can have a full and fair chance to know our candidacy.

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When we are done, I will know them and they will know me.

This has not been an easy decision to make.

But I have not shied away from hard decisions before.

I did not shy away from the decision to vote against the deregulation of Wall Street.

Nor did I shy away from the hard decision to vote against the Iraq war.

I was fully confident in those hard decisions and I am fully confident in this one.

THIS is the place where our destiny will be decided.

THIS is the place jobs will be created.

THIS is the place I can make a real difference getting 290,000 of our neighbors back to work.

When it comes to getting people back to work, I'm all in.

When it comes to growing new job-creating businesses, I'm all in.

And when it comes to being elected the next governor of the state of Washington, I am in it to win it.

Thank you so much!