Inslee Drops Out of 2020 Race as Ex-Contender Hickenlooper Announces Bid for Senate

August 22, 2019 Updated: August 23, 2019

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s exiting the 2020 presidential race, as former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who dropped out on Aug. 15, said he’s running for the U.S. Senate.

Inslee was close to meeting the thresholds for the next round of debates when he made his announcement during an appearance on MSNBC late Aug. 21.

“I’m not going to be the president so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race,” Inslee told host Rachel Maddow.

“But I have to tell you, look, I’ve been fighting climate change for 25 years and I’ve never been so confident of the ability of America to meet critical mass to move the ball,” he added, referring to the issue he most highlighted in his campaign.

In a statement, Inslee said: “I know you agree that our mission to defeat climate change must continue to be central to our national discussion—and must be the top priority for our next president. But I’ve concluded that my role in that effort will not be as a candidate to be our next president.

“As disappointing as this is, it is only right to recognize what we have accomplished and how far we have come together. The tremendous grassroots outpouring of 130,000 individual donors, from every state in the nation, is a testament to the movement that we’ve built together. We hit this high bar set by the DNC. Together, we changed and shaped the entire national dialogue around climate change.”

Inslee told supporters he would reveal what his next moves will be in the days ahead and thanked them for their support. Later in the day, he announced he would be running for another term as Washington’s governor.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In First Debate Of 2020 Election Over Two Nights
(L-R) Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), former housing secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney take part in the first night of the Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, on June 26, 2019. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Inslee had struggled to gain recognition, often getting less than 1 percent in polls.

Inslee dropped out of the race after four others had dropped out: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, ex-West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda, and Hickenlooper.

More than 20 contenders still remain in the race; only 10 have qualified for the September debates with the deadline looming.

John Hickenlooper
Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 10, 2019. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

Hickenlooper to Challenge Gardner

Hickenlooper, meanwhile, announced early on Aug. 22 that he’ll be challenging incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) for a Senate seat.

“I’m running to give Colorado’s priorities and values a voice in Washington,” Hickenlooper said on his campaign website.

“Right now, we’re represented by a senator who works to undo our progress by voting 99 percent of the time with Donald Trump and going along with Mitch McConnell’s obstruction and partisan political games.”

The website also stated that “John is running for Senate to make Washington work for Coloradans by bringing people together to lower health care and prescription drug costs, to keep our families safe from gun violence, and protect the state’s public lands while also combating climate change.”

Hickenlooper said during the video statement announcing he was dropping out of the presidential race that many Colorado residents were urging him to run for the Senate seat.

“They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state,” Hickenlooper said. “I intend to give that some serious thought.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
RECOMMENDED