Will Jay Inslee Be the Greenest Governor in America?

Green groups sure seem to think so.

Jay Inslee
Photo: Getty Images
writes about environment and energy for the NYT, Popular Science, OnEarth Magazine, and more.

Washington State voters haven't sent a Republican to the governor's mansion since 1980, but lingering economic woes have turned this year's race into one of the most competitive in the country—and relegated environmental concerns to the background. 

The closely watched contest pits Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna against former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee. And if Inslee wins in November, some environmental groups are already predicting he'll be the greenest governor in America. 

During his time in Congress, Inslee cochaired the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and served on the Energy and Commerce Committee and Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

RELATED: Mitt Romney Will End Tax Credit for Clean Wind Energy

In 2007, Inslee published "Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy," calling for massive public investment in renewable energy industries. Much of his campaign is centered around reinvigorating Washington's economy by transforming the state into a national green tech hub.

In October, the League of Conservation Voters, which has steered clear of state races for more than 30 years, came out in strong support for Inslee's campaign.

"The states have always been the laboratories of democracy and clean energy is no exception. We know that Congressman Inslee has seen firsthand how many politicians in Washington would rather block job-creating, clean energy legislation than work to build a thriving new energy economy. We're endorsing Congressman Inslee for governor because we know that he'll work to ensure Washington State is a clean energy leader and an example of what our national economy really need," said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

The Sierra Club has been equally vocal in their support of Inslee.

"We have an opportunity to elect a true environmental champion as the next Governor of Washington. Jay Inslee has fought for years to protect pristine wilderness areas and rivers on both sides of the Cascades, restore Puget Sound and grow Washington's clean energy economy. An Inslee administration will mean cleaner water, clearer skies and healthier children throughout the state. If every Washington citizen knew this, Jay Inslee would win by a landslide," the Sierra Club wrote to its members earlier this month. 

Inslee's opponents don't have a Solyndra-sized fiasco around which to craft their messaging, but several of the green tech companies Inslee wrote about in "Apollo's Fire" have stumbled economically since the book was published.

Washington voters may also still remember that of the hundreds of jobs promised when Seattle was awarded $20 million in stimulus funds in 2010, for energy efficient retrofits, only 14 local jobs were ever recorded to have been created.

Will Washington voters uphold and amplify their green reputation, or decide that being on the forefront of a revolution isn't the kind of economic security they're looking for right now?

More on green issues in the 2012 elections:

Obama Gets Green Love

Obama and Romney Are Decidedly Not Climate Change Debaters

Obama and Romney: Which Way Are the Wind Farms Blowing?

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