Governor Inslee’s political future has been discussed by folks from both sides of the aisle for quite some time. Will he or won’t he? Will Washington Governor Jay Inslee run for the highest elected position in the United States? Not too long ago Washingtonians finally got a firm answer: yes, Inslee will be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and is ultimately hoping to add a “D.C.” to the end of his Washington address when all is said and done.
Elected officials, like private citizens, are certainly allowed to run for president if they so choose. President Donald Trump is a blip on the American radar when it comes to the career trajectory that most presidents take to get to the White House, however, as he won the presidency with no previous experience as an elected official. Take a look back at some of our recent presidents: both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush served as governors, as did Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. We aren’t here to debate whether or not a governor or elected official can make a good president. Nor are we here to admonish a person’s desire to lead our country. What we are here to do is to question when the public should bear that cost.
Recently the Washington State Patrol revealed plans to almost double the size of Inslee’s traveling security detail, bringing the cost to protect the governor as he tries to gain political favor in states like Iowa and New Hampshire to over $4 million for the next two years. A Seattle Times article says Inslee did not ask for the extra security, and the increase decision was made after the patrol questioned other states where governors had run for president. When asked if his campaign would reimburse taxpayers for his travel detail, Inslee, while politicking in Iowa, noted state law dictates that security will be provided and he is not going to propose a change to it.
When questioned about this very issue a few weeks ago in Olympia in a crowded room filled with newspaper publishers, editors and reporters from around the state, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste echoed Inslee’s sentiment with regard to the requirement of a security detail for the governor. Batiste, however, did not offer an opinion on the matter and instead reiterated his stance that his troopers will continue fulfilling their duty by protecting Inslee and his family while he campaigns. Certainly Inslee and Batiste are right when you examine the issue at face value. To say that a governor, like Inslee, should reimburse the state for matters pertaining to a presidential campaign, however, is not without precedent. Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker knows this all too well. The 2016 presidential hopeful’s campaign reimbursed the state of Wisconsin $135,000 for costs associated with his security detail during his short-lived campaign.
All governors are afforded protection if they decide to run for president. But the question is should a governor’s personal ambitions for president be funded by the very people who elected him to govern their state?
— Editorial board