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With 'epic' announcement, Hilary Franz enters race for Washington governor

caption: In this Sept. 14, 2016, file photo, Hilary Franz speaks at an event months before winning the election for Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands, in Cle Elum, Wash.
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In this Sept. 14, 2016, file photo, Hilary Franz speaks at an event months before winning the election for Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands, in Cle Elum, Wash.
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has entered the race to be Washington's next governor. The Democrat announced her campaign Wednesday morning, targeting the issues of climate change, the state's cost-of-living woes, and lagging wages.

"Our reality is changing, 'once in a lifetime' is now 'once in a month'," Franz said in her announcement video. "And while our planet changes, our laws don't keep up. On climate and across the board, we are paying the price. Wages are slow to rise. Housing is through the roof. Child care is out of reach. This is the harsh reality for too many in our state."

When Gov. Jay Inslee announced last month that he would not be running for a fourth term, a handful of Democratic names were rumored to replace him, and Franz was among them. Attorney General Bob Ferguson was also expected to run. He announced an exploratory campaign for the governor's race in early May.

RELATED: Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, on wildfires and forestry

So far, no prominent Republicans have announced their intentions to run for governor, though the state GOP does say it is optimistic about its chances in 2024.

Former Washington Congressmember Jaime Herrera Beutler was rumored to be considering a run for the governor's office. She recently told KUOW that she hasn't "closed any doors" when it comes to a potential campaign and that other Republicans in the moderate corner have encouraged her to run. Herrera Beutler lost the Congressional primary for Washington's District 3 last summer to a MAGA Republican. The loss came after she was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump in 2021.

RELATED: Washington Republicans believe governor's race is winnable

With Franz and Ferguson in the mix, Democrats are currently dominating the discussion around Washington's next governor.

"Epic" campaign video

Franz has served as Washington's Commissioner of Public Lands since 2017. She was also a Bainbridge Island City Council member from 2008-2012. Conservation and the environment have been core issues during Franz's times in office. As a council member, she helped establish an open-water marina to accommodate Bainbridge Island's liveaboard residents, after a long dispute with the Department of Natural Resources and waterfront homeowners.

As public lands commissioner, Franz took over leadership of DNR. During her term, the department has been challenged with severe wildfire seasons and a fish farm controversy in Puget Sound.

Franz's campaign video released Wednesday morning leaned into the themes of keeping up with a changing world, and also the mantra of "epic" — epic progress, epic investments, epic opportunities, etc. — because "anything shy of 'epic' won't cut it."

"My office has been on the front lines of our changing world," Franz said in her announcement video. "We secured an unprecedented bipartisan $500 million investment from the state Legislature to prevent and fight wildfires, a sweeping 20-year forest health strategic plan, and a plan for climate resilience to prepare us for what is to come. We generated hundreds of millions of dollars to fund schools, and build libraries and hospitals across our state. And along the way we created good-paying jobs in our communities. More money for working families which helps local businesses and small towns thrive."

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