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Analysis: 'Hard to imagine' Inslee clearing the threshold for fall presidential debates

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall
The Associated Press
Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Gov. Jay Inslee has made it to the debate stage twice with fellow Democratic presidential candidates, but the threshold for the next round of debates may be an issue for his campaign. As the governor tries to make headway in the crowded race, he’s still focused on matters back home. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joined KNKX’s Ariel Van Cleave for a live chat about the latest on Morning Edition.

To qualify for the fall debates, Democratic presidential candidates need at least 130,000 unique campaign contributors.

“The Inslee campaign says its narrowing in on that after seeing a surge in donations following the last debate,” Jenkins said. “But the other requirement is that candidates achieve 2 percent or better in four qualifying polls.”

Inslee hasn’t broken 1 percent in the polls. Jenkins says “it’s hard to imagine” that Inslee would suddenly clear this higher threshold now.

Just nine candidates have qualified so far. And while there’s no requirement that the others drop out of the presidential race if they don’t make it to the debate stage,  Jenkins noted, it does increase difficulty that they can gain the momentum needed to compete.

Jenkins predicts Inslee will have more news about his future in the 2020 race on or around Labor Day. One possibility that the governor still hasn't ruled out is a campaign for a third term as Washington's governor. 

In the meantime, Inslee's staff in Washington state are gauging interest in a special session on gun control legislation. Jenkins says demand for that is low, at least right now. That said, he does see the possibility of a robust debate around high-capacity magazines once the regular session convenes.

Listen to the full conversation above to hear more.

Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.