Democratic presidential candidates Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, speaks during a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami, as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, listens.
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Democratic presidential candidates Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, speaks during a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami, as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, listens.
Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Gov. Jay Inslee drops out of presidential race and says he'll seek re-election

Governor Jay Inslee is dropping out of the race for president of the United States.

After 174 days, two Democratic debates and more than $580,000 in Washington taxpayer dollars spent on campaign security details, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that it’s time to step out.

"It’s become clear that I am not going to be carrying the ball, I’m not going to be president, so I am withdrawing tonight from the race,” Inslee said.

On Thursday, Inslee said in an email to supporters that he would now run for a third term as Washington governor. People had been lining up for that job, including Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. But they had couched their interest in terms of a race that didn't include Inslee.

Inslee ran for president on a climate change platform, stressing the issue at campaign events across the country, in cable news interviews and in debates.

He called climate change the “most urgent challenge of our time.” But his message failed to boost his candidacy in the polls.

In fact, he never got above 1 percent in any of the national polls. For that reason, Inslee would not qualify for the next Democratic debate despite reaching the other threshold to qualify, exceeding 130,000 donors.

In a statement, Inslee said he believes his focus on climate change made a difference.

Other Democratic candidates were quick to acknowledge Inslee's departure.

"Congratulations to @JayInslee on his impactful campaign to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of the national conversation," Bernie Sanders tweeted.

Kamala Harris: "Few leaders have done more to shine a light on the climate crisis than @JayInslee. His voice will be missed in this primary but I know he will continue this fight."

Julian Castro offered an intriguing postscript: "Thank you, @JayInslee, for your unwavering effort to save our planet. Your candidacy has kept our most pressing issue at the forefront of this race. Let me know when you’re up for that road trip!"

In a statement, Inslee said many of the Democratic candidates launched their campaigns with little attention to climate change.

"But since our campaign began, we've seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we've seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums in September,” he said.

Inslee pushed for a DNC-supported debate focused exclusively on climate change The DNC is meeting in San Francisco starting Thursday and may decide whether the next debate, in September, will be on that issue.