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Inslee jumps in

Jay Inslee announces/from announcement video

And the 2010 Washington governor’s race is joined. There may be more candidates joining in, but probably no more major contenders. The next governor is likely to be either Republican Rob McKenna, who announced earlier this month, or Democrat Jay Inslee, who announced this morning.

Inslee’s announcement was overlong and a little bumpier than you might expect from so experienced a candidate (Inslee has been running for major office, mostly successfully, for 20 years); he got better as it went along. It was heavily oriented, as you might expect, around jobs and business.

A speech like this is where you set the themes, but the themes were a little mixed. Inslee is known as one of the less compromising liberals in Congress, and periodically he noted here, “its never the wrong time to do the right thing.” The state, he said, should not lower its sights because of the economic slump. But he also spoke of an Olympia in need of fresh blood (“we do not need a status quo governor” – a tightrope to walk there, with a fellow Democrat now in office) and a state government that needs to do more with less.

The more effective part of it was his runthrough of experience in and around the state, in a surprising number of parts of it. He was able to talk about piece of background in not only his congressional district around Seattle and Kitsap County, but in places like Republic and Yakima. (McKenna’s speech seemed more King County oriented than Inslee’s did.)

The passion he brings, which shows up on the campaign trail, wasn’t at a peak here; he’s been stronger. But it’s early in the cycle. Both Inslee and McKenna should be at a high pitch by the time this campaign gets many more months along.

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