This morning The Huffington Post is reporting that Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) will resign from his seat in Congress in order to focus on his run for Washington State Governor.
NW Daily Marker has emailed the Inslee campaign and is awaiting confirmation of The Huffington Post story. The article also reports that Inslee will make a formal announcement at 1:00 p.m. Pacific.
There has been speculation in the media for months that Democratic strategists have urged Inslee to leave Congress so that he could commit to a full-time campaign schedule and boost his name identification across the state.
There can be no doubt that commuting between Washington State and Washington, D.C. (as well as a recent sidebar to hang out with shamed ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer for a Manhattan fundraiser) has taken an enormous bite out of Inslee’s available schedule.
Now, Inslee will have the time to begin canvassing the state in an attempt to catch up to Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna who leads in most major polls of the race and has maintained fundraising parity with Inslee despite being held back until yesterday by the moratorium during the legislative session.
Breaking away from the constraints of the congressional calendar should also give Inslee the freedom to begin agreeing to a schedule of debates with McKenna, a schedule Inslee has been reluctant to set up to this point.
Back in December 2011, Inslee challenged to McKenna to four debates. Without hesitation, McKenna and campaign manager Randy Pepple gave a thumbs-up to the idea. Still, despite having a number of invitations from organizations across the state, Inslee has ducked opportunities to go head-to-head with his opponent.
The timing of Inslee’s resignation leaves the First Congressional District unrepresented and Democrats playing one member short in the U.S. House. Had he announced prior to March 6, it would have triggered a special election to fill his seat for the remainder of his current term.