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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee Talks Gun Violence On Campaign Swing In Nevada

@JayInslee -
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference on gun violence at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is stepping up his role as chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Inslee was in Las Vegas Thursday as part of his first major campaign swing.

Inslee appeared at a news conference on gun violence at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and waded into what’s become a key campaign issue between Democrats and Republicans in that state. ?? He was joined by Nevada Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, a Democrat, who is running for state attorney general, along with a student organizer of a planned student walkout on Friday to protest gun violence.

In a video posted to Facebook by the Nevada State Democratic Party, Inslee invoked last October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed nearly 60 people and injured more than 500.

“This is something that strikes at the hearts of everybody across the United States,” Inslee said.

Inslee criticized Nevada Republicans for not enforcing a voter-approved background check measure for gun sales.

Nevada’s Republican governor and attorney general have said the background check law is unenforceable as written.

Inslee also urged election of a Democratic governor in November. Nevada currently has a Republican governor, but Democrats see an opportunity to swing the state this year.

Nevada is one of 36 states with gubernatorial contests in 2018. Democrats hold just 16 governorships nationwide--a historic low.

While in Nevada Inslee was also scheduled to participate in a clean energy roundtable event and appear at a voter registration drive.

From Las Vegas, Inslee heads to Los Angeles where he’s scheduled to be a guest on Friday’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and attend Democratic Governors Association meetings.

While in Los Angeles, Inslee will also participate in the Los Angeles Business Council’s 12th Annual Sustainability Summit along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. That is considered official business in Inslee’s capacity as governor.

Next Monday, Inslee flies to Chicago for one day of Democratic Governors Association business. He is scheduled to return to Washington on Tuesday.

In response to a request for details of Inslee's meetings, the DGA issued this statement: 

"Governor Inslee is meeting with Democratic supporters and party leaders in Nevada, California and Illinois, as he works to elect Democratic governors across the country in the critical 2018 midterm year."

According to Inslee’s office, the Democratic Governors Association pays for DGA-related travel. However, state dollars are used to pay for a state trooper to travel with Inslee as part of his Executive Protection Unit.

Inslee’s emerging national political role has fueled speculation that he may be eyeing a run for president in 2020.

This story has been updated. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."