When we were classmates at Ingraham High School in Seattle, Jay Inslee was quarterback of the football team and a key player on the state champion basketball squad. I was a fledgling cartoonist and editorial writer on the student newspaper. On Wednesday afternoon, as I watched Inslee shoot hoops with his buddies under the new backboard he had just put up on his garage, it struck me that some things have not changed. It was still basketballs for him, cartoons for me.
But, in truth, the change is rather dramatic. My bio now starts with the phrase “two-time
I traveled to Olympia to see Inslee sworn in. After all, how often does a friend become a governor? And what other governor at his swearing-in would have chosen to be introduced by Dennis Hayes, the founder of
Inslee and I were only acquaintances in our teenage years. Our friendship really started at
In 1996, I spent several days tracking him during his first run for governor. He had lost his congressional seat in the watershed election of 1994 when
On the night of his primary defeat, standing with just a few friends and teary-eyed staffers at his quiet campaign headquarters, Inslee quoted from memory
Two years later, the indefatigable Inslee was returned to Congress from a different district and easily held that seat until he left to campaign for governor again last year. In Congress, he became a leader on new energy technology and climate change. I once asked him how anything would ever get done to forestall the looming climate calamity, given the pitiful lack of political will on the issue. As always, he was upbeat, certain that smart leaders would find a solution, certain this was not another quixotic fight.
So, it was no surprise that, in his inaugural speech as governor, Inslee told the assembled legislators he believes the state can lead the world in providing a technological response to the climate challenge. Gov.
Republican legislators, many of whom cling to the idea that climate change is as mythical as unicorns, sat glumly as he directed a message to them: "We don't deny science in Washington; we embrace it. We do not follow technological innovation; we lead it. And we will not pass up a golden opportunity to create jobs."
At the governor's mansion, two hours after his inaugural address and a few minutes before the basketball game, I reminded Inslee of that feeling he had when he first went to Congress, that sense that an older generation should still be in charge. I asked him how he felt on his first day as governor. His answer was firm: "I am ready now."