Governor Jay Inslee congratulated WSU students Wednesday for winning the state’s student-voter registration drive challenge, but it was his recently announced bid for the White House that drew as much interest during the quick Pullman visit.

Inslee, a University of Washington grad whose wife attended WSU, referenced his divided household in describing the satisfaction he drew from presenting the Cougars with the Governor’s Cup and bringing balance to the state’s longstanding rivalry.

“Today when I got to award the Cougars the Governor’s Cup for registering more college students [to vote], this was a great joy because now we have a one-and-one in apple cups” for the year, he said. “It’s a balance in my marriage and a balance in my governance as well.”

The voter registration challenge was launched last year by Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman as part of a bipartisan effort to increase voter participation among students attending Washington’s colleges and technical schools.

During the WSU visit, which included a discussion about clean energy and a robust question-and-answer session in the Bryan Hall Auditorium, Inslee reminded the crowd that he was in Pullman as governor of Washington rather than a presidential candidate. He announced just last month that he is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and some in the crowd wanted to know more about that.

“I came here as governor in bipartisan spirit,” he said, drawing distinction between the Wednesday visit and his fledgling presidential campaign.

He commended WSU for its research advancing a clean energy economy, and for being one of the leaders in renewable and efficient energy uses.

“I think Cougars are very important to that. Your clean energy and research lab has done some great work in energy efficiency,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see the research that’s going on in biofuels and everything else.”

Other topics Inslee covered ranged from addressing other countries to partake in an eco-friendly economy, nuclear options, legislative works that advance clean energy, and criticism of the federal government’s role in clean energy and environmental stability.

It marked just the second time in WSU history a presidential candidate has visited the Pullman campus. The first was John F. Kennedy in 1960. William Howard Taft also visited WSU in 1920, but as a former president of the United States.

Gov. Jay Inslee posing with students outside the Bryan Hall Auditoriam
Gov. Jay Inslee posing with students outside the Bryan Hall Auditorium. (Photo by Bob Hubner, WSU Photo Services)