When he was elected to the governor's office in 2012, he had transported only eight of the 39 counties in the state, all located along the densely populated western side of the Cascade Mountains. He trailed behind his Republican rival in more rural and conservative farming communities. Four years later, in his second election campaign, he had nine counties.
Many Washington residents, even those who admire and vote for him, sometimes mock him for his childish and sunny enthusiasm when he talks about passions like ocean acidification and carbon .
"He is a true believer," said Travis N. Ridout, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University and a long-time observer for Inslee. "He identifies with climate change. Apart from that, it is difficult, at least in my mind, to set strategic priorities. The advantage of this is that it is difficult to think of the great scandals in which he was involved. It's a pretty weak drama. He is not an ember. "
A lawyer and former prosecutor, Mr. Inslee is a fifth generation Washingtonian who grew up in the Seattle area. In part, he owes his appreciation of the natural world to his father, Frank Inslee, a high school science teacher who has often led the family on a voluntary expedition to replant alpine meadows on the slopes of Mount Rainier, the south-glaciated volcano. from Seattle.
Rebecca Katz, Democratic political consultant, said the climate had gained prominence in the 2020 race with the introduction of the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution calling for aggressive mobilization to urge the United States to use the renewable energy and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Inslee praised the Green New Deal, as did a number of senators who also run for the presidency: Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
"The advantage of Inslee is that it holds a record here," Ms. Katz said. "There are a lot of candidates who have somehow seen the light and are now in favor of a Green New Deal, but Inslee has been discussing this issue for a long time."
"That said," she added, "many people do not know much about Inslee."