Although the environmental community could never hope to keep up with Koch Brothers et. al. on campaign spending, they are stepping up for the mid-term elections in a way they never have before.
This year they may be outspent 3-1, compared to 9-1 in 2012 and 51-to-1 in 2000, according to the Washington Post.
The two biggest spenders are the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and NextGen Climate Pac, expected to lay out $25 million and $50 million, respectively. That puts them on par with heavy hitters on the conservative side like the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, according to Open Secrets, which tracks campaign spending.
Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen, is putting millions of his own money in:
Both groups – which are working together – are trying to make climate change an issue in the November election. They are focused on candidates on the federal and state levels who are strong on climate change and who are in close races.
It’s bringing much-needed support for candidates who truly want to take action, while hopefully attracting voters who typically don’t turn out for mid-term elections.
LCV is supporting 11 Democratic candidates for the Senate and calling out their Republican opposition as climate deniers:
- Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire*
- Ed Markey, Massachusetts
- Kay Hagan, North Carolina
- Michelle Nunn, Georgia
- Gary Peters, Michigan*
- Al Franken, Minnesota
- Bruce Braley, Iowa*
- Mark Udall, Colorado*
- Tom Udall, New Mexico
- Jeff Merkley, Oregon
- Brian Schatz, Hawaii
While most in this group strongly support renewable energy and action on climate change, some like Kay Hagan (in favor of approving the Keystone pipeline) are much stronger than their Republican opponents and are critical in keeping Democratic control of the Senate.
In Michigan, for example, Gary Peters has made climate change a centerpiece of his campaign by connecting it to the renewable energy jobs he wants for the state. He voted for national cap-and-trade, supports EPA power plant regulations, is concerned about tar sands pipelines and outspoken on the need to clean up the Great Lakes.
In addition to supporting the candidates with * on this list, NextGen is also trying to boot out the extreme right-wing governors in Florida and Maine. They have 20 offices across the country with 700 in staff and volunteers. Their goal is to knock on 1 million doors and are 75% of the way there, they say.
There’s also a small group, Climate Hawks Vote, working on the grassroots level to get people out to vote. They were able to make the difference in the very tight race in Hawaii for Brian Schatz.
At the State Level
Both groups are also working in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, where Democrats are either close to having a majority or have slim majorities in state legislatures.
Some of the most important environmental decisions will take place in the states: implement EPA’s power plant regulations; prevent coal exports, begin pricing carbon (Washington); renew renewable fuel requirements (Oregon); defend the Renewable Portfolio Standard against ALEC and impose stronger rules on fracking (Colorado).
It’s also much cheaper to influence state legislative campaigns.
Read our article, Who are America’s Greenest (and UnGreenest) Congresspeople?
Contribute to LCV’s campaign through this website: