Climate Hawks Vote – Endorsements for Election 2018 (Vote as if your life depends on it!)
I want to let you know where the climate hawk community stands. We started looking for candidates to support in January 2017 (yes, really) – and it’s culminated in a total of 15 endorsements – 12 House candidates, two Senate candidates, and one state ballot initiative. At one point our spreadsheet tracking races had over 100 Congressional seats and over 300 candidates. We thoroughly researched, vetted and ran surveys in districts to listen to climate hawks in each community before endorsing.
By RL Miller
Climate Hawks Vote
I’m really proud of the slate we’ve put together, from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, from Detroit to Dallas, from a fifth-generation Californian to the son of a Latina immigrant with a third-grade education.
And you’ve responded. You’ve donated, clicked, shared, and are now volunteering for climate hawk candidates nationwide.
I’ll promise you that one of our 15 races will be a winner! We backed Rashida Tlaib in her Detroit-area primary, and she has no Republican opposition.
Beyond that, no guarantees. All of our climate hawks are running in close races and many are statistically tied.
I want to highlight three races with huge implications for clean energy and climate change – three of our fiercest climate hawks, Sean Casten, Mike Levin, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
Cleantech attorney Mike Levin is one of our own. He’s served for several years on the board of the Center for Sustainable Energy, based in San Diego, and co-founded Sustain OC in Orange County. He’s spoken out against a proposed natural gas plant. He’s signed the pledge not to take money from the oil companies — and wasn’t afraid to criticize the DNC when the DNC reversed its ban on fossil fuel corporate PAC money.
Mike is now facing Republican Diane Harkey in the general election. Harkey would fit right into the Trump swamp — she has been involved with an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of millions, and then used those profits to fund her campaigns. She’s been accused of corruption and misuse of taxpayer dollars.
And this race is a prime Democratic pickup opportunity: it’s a district Clinton carried, where the Republican incumbent is retiring — the kind of seat that Democrats need to flip to take back the House. Independent analysts rate it a toss-up, and polls show a very tight race. This is our chance to elect not just a part of the blue wave, but a climate hawk.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a south Florida environmental advocate running against the biggest climate peacock in the House. If you haven’t encountered climate peacocks in the wild yet, they preen and strut and give speeches about the horrors of climate change, but then take money from the oil companies and vote to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They don’t actually accomplish any good. We’re sending a message to Republicans: back up those pretty words with meaningful action, or get voted out of office. Again, polls show a one-point race.
The world is warming faster than Republicans are warming up to believing in climate change. The ice sheets can’t wait for Republicans to come around to accepting basic science, then debating possible solutions, and only then begin to discuss the possibility of a bipartisan bill. Bold climate action, not hypocrisy, is needed in this Miami-area district, ground zero for sea level rise.
Carlos Curbelo tries to have it both ways. He introduced a carbon tax bill, HR 6463, which has attracted a grand total of two cosponsors. He stands up against oil drilling off the Florida coast — but he’s voted for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (as part of the GOP tax “reform” bill passed last December, HR 1). He’s happy to accept oil money — $10,000 each from Exxon and Chevron, $5,000 each from Valero and Marathon Petroleum, $1,000 each from American Petroleum Institute and American Gas Association, in 2017-18 alone. And he votes with Trump 83 percent of the time.
By contrast, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a real climate hawk. Through her work with the Coral Restoration Foundation, she knows first-hand that inaction on climate change is not an option. Debbie was an early signer of the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge. In Congress, she’ll advocate for a low-fossil fuel economy, clean energy and innovative infrastructure that will protect our front-line communities.
Sean Casten is one of us – a hardcore energy geek who’s devoted his career to technologies that shrink our carbon footprint. Ask him about greenhouse gas emissions, and he gets genuinely excited. He’s made climate change into a major campaign issue. Polls show this Chicago suburban district a one-point race.
Sean is running as a climate hawk scientist, cleantech entrepreneur, and job creator. Climate Hawks endorses this scientist for Congress – and to take the seat away from a science-denying Republican, Peter Roskam, who calls climate change “junk science.”
He’s specialized in combined heat and power, a technology that involves turning “wasted” heat into power, sometimes achieving double the energy efficiency of the overall US electric grid. He’s chaired a combined heat and power trade association, and testified to Congress on its benefits. And cleantech nerds will delight in his well-crafted, detailed energy/climate policy.
Sean has already been endorsed by two distinguished members of our board of directors: Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison. Bill says: “Sean has the right combination of feistiness and knowledge to make him a force for the good in DC.” And Jigar says: “Sean is more than a scientist. He’s a practical entrepreneur and we need his experience in Congress to encourage clean energy projects.”
In addition, you can help elect these fine candidates:
Beto O’Rourke has earned our respect with a high-energy, upbeat, people-powered campaign. He’s out-hustling and out-fundraising Ted Cruz and inspiring Texas Democrats up and down the ballot, all without taking a dime from corporate PACs – especially fossil fuel corporate PACs.
The latest polling shows he’s just a few points away from Cruz – and early voting turnout has been spectacular, especially amount youth and minorities.
This Climate Hawk could really win this – and you can help!
Dan McCready: A Marine veteran and solar entrepreneur, Dan is ready to tackle the climate crisis first hand. At Climate Hawks Vote, we’re looking for fighters who can help flip the House — candidates who can beat Republicans in traditionally red districts — without sacrificing climate hawk values. Meet Dan McCready. He’s going to try to flip North Carolina’s Ninth District, just east of Charlotte.
Steven Horsford: As Nevada State Senate Majority Leader, Steven Horsford authored and passed the Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, positioning Nevada as a national leader in renewable energy.
In 2014, Horsford lost his seat to far-right Cresent Hardy. If Hardy’s name is familiar, he sided with Cliven Bundy’s family militia in their shootout with federal agents. Hardy is an old-school climate denier: the kind who thinks coal is clean, the Keystone XL pipeline creates jobs, and that President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan deserved to be dismantled by Congress. And he’s an out-and-out racist to boot.
Nevada’s 4th Congressional District is the kind of purple seat Dems need to hold to flip the House. This critical swing district includes North Las Vegas, the high, lonely space of Great Basin National Park, and the town of Ely. Steven can win this race and speak out for solar energy in Congress — but first he needs your help.
Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran who knows something about sea level rise and national security, is running against climate peacock Republican Scott Taylor in Virginia’s Second District, also known as the nation’s shipyard.
We’re backing Elaine because she has a unique perspective on climate change as a national security issue with very local implications. Her Hampton Roads-area district is home to both the largest shipyard in the world, and one of the fastest sinking sections of America’s coastline.
The scandal-plagued incumbent, Scott Taylor, is a climate peacock. He joined the Climate Solutions Caucus but has never once voted for a climate solution. Instead, he’s voted to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the GOP tax scam bill (HR 1). He’s voted to exempt coal plants from meeting clean air standards (HR 1119). Most recently, he sided with the vast majority of House Republicans in an anti-carbon tax resolution (H.Con. Res. 119).
The seat is the kind of swingy district that Democrats must win in order to flip the House in 2018. Trump beat Clinton 48-45, but the following year it swung toward the Democratic nominee for governor, Ralph Northam. Together, we can add a unique perspective on climate change to Congress while ousting a do-nothing anti-climate peacock.
Jessica Morse is a national security strategist with deep roots in the district and an ability to connect with rural voters across party lines. And she’s proven the ability to fundraise by building her own grassroots base.
Have you ever strolled Yosemite Valley’s floor, marveled at Lake Tahoe’s crystal waters, or hiked the High Sierra backcountry? Welcome to California’s Fourth Congressional District, currently represented by a tea party, tree-hating, climate-denying ideologue who lives hundreds of miles away.
And if you’ve been to the Sierras lately, you know that climate change is already wreaking havoc. Shrunken snowpack. Drought fueling bark beetle infestations. Fire upon fire upon fire. It’s going to get worse — but how much worse? The answer depends on how quickly we get to zero emissions. And that depends on electing a Congress who’ll prioritize aggressive climate action now.
That won’t happen with Tom McClintock, who’s notorious for denying climate change, opposing wilderness, and promoting logging and dams as the answer to pretty much any question. The district’s pretty red. But the pundits have moved the race out of the “safe Republican” category, for the first time in years, because Jessica is the first candidate in years with a solid chance of defeating him.
Now it’s our time to show Tom McClintock that climate hawks have Jessica’s back.
Deb Haaland will be the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress. In the House, she’ll fight for underrepresented communities and against the fossil fuel extraction economy bent on squeezing every last drop of oil from New Mexico’s land.
Jess King is running in Pennsylvania’s newly created 11th District in south central Pennsylvania (Lancaster, some of York County). Jess is running a populist, progressive, grassroots campaign for all of us—and against the proposed Atlantic Sunrise fracked-gas pipeline. Jess, the only candidate in the race who’s signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, will need grassroots support to win.
She’s been endorsed by the people who’ve seen her in action—like Lancaster Stands Up, the local resistance group that sprang out of the ashes of the 2016 election. And in our survey of in-district Climate Hawks Vote members, an impressive 86 percent voted for her.
Jess is running as an outspoken proponent of progressive values, not waffling or hedging her bets or running toward the mushy middle. That means that she’s spoken out publicly against the Sunrise pipeline. She’ll co-sponsor the Merkley-Sanders 100 x 50 (100 percent renewable energy by 2050) bill. She’s committed to a Department of Justice investigation of Exxon. She’ll fight fossil-fuel subsidies. And it’s all part of her broader values: Medicare for All, debt-free college, and a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Kara Eastman is a climate hawk because she’s an advocate for children. She runs Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to helping children in poverty, where she noticed that sick kids lived in homes lacking basic weatherstripping. That led to an interest in energy efficiency, and thus climate work.
She found that poverty-stricken clients were just as interested in their carbon footprints as middle-class suburban folk, but lacked information, and accordingly worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to develop educational material.
And now she’s running for Congress. The seat is currently held by Don Bacon, a Republican who claims to stand for climate solutions, but voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey. It’s the kind of swingy purple district that Democrats need to win in 2018 to flip the House away from inflicting permanent damage on our climate.
Jana Lynne Sanchez is running for office on a pro-solar, pro-jobs platform. She can win this red Texas district because she’s a strong candidate running in an open seat. Joe Barton has been one of the worst polluter-financed politicians in Congress since he was first elected in 1984, earning the nickname “Smokey Joe” for his endless attacks on the Clean Air Act; he’s retired, thanks to a sexting scandal, and Jana now faces his former chief of staff, who will be his clone.
Jana Lynne Sanchez just might be the bravest candidate in Texas—she’s the first candidate from this oil-and-gas state to publicly sign our pledge not to take any money from the fossil-fuel industry.
Kevin de León is a climate hawk, using his powerful position atop the California legislature to push that state’s visionary climate policy. In 2014, he authored Charge Ahead, the law offering rebates to low income Californians to help put 1,000,000 electric vehicles on the road. In 2015, he authored and got passed SB 350, requiring California to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and SB 185, requiring California’s giant pension funds to divest from coal. And he traveled to the Paris climate talks to explain the California success story to international leaders. This year, he authored SB 100, calling for California to get 100 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2045 – that bill comes up in January 2018.
Kevin hasn’t only been authoring smart bills—he consistently speaks out for climate justice. Eight freeways criss-cross his downtown Los Angeles district. Smog, soot, ozone – Kevin knows that climate pollution is a matter of public health. Kevin de León came from humble beginnings – his mother cleaned houses – and his career in public service, from organizing pro-immigration rallies against Proposition 187 to organizing working class folk for better pay, has been dedicated to speaking out for all of us. In 2012, he authored and passed legislation that requires 25 percent of all cap and trade funds to benefit low income communities. He’s repeatedly passed bills creating new city parks, because nearby green spaces make tangible differences in people’s lives.
And Kevin has signed a pledge not to take money from oil companies for his campaign. California is actually one of the biggest oil producers in the nation. Big Oil has been pumping millions of dollars into California politics for years, intensifying its reach since California began prioritizing climate action. Kevin is putting his trust in grassroots support, not Big Oil money.
This won’t be an easy race – incumbent Feinstein has personal wealth and a powerful political machine. But it’s the kind of fight we need to win if we’re going to make the Democratic Party responsive to climate hawks – by backing one of our own over a long-time incumbent.
Dianne Feinstein is meh on climate in comparison to Kevin de León. She doesn’t have a track record of introducing strong climate bills. Her biggest accomplishment on conservation was her first piece of legislation, the Desert Protection Act of 1994. She hasn’t served on the energy or environment committees. Nor has she been outspoken on the Senate floor – compare her reserved image with that of Barbara Boxer, who served alongside her in the Senate from 1993 to 2017 and who regularly sparred with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). On our exclusive climate-leadership scorecards covering 2011 to 2015, Feinstein consistently scored 20 points behind Boxer—her “meh” is measurable.
And California has moved left since Feinstein was first elected in 1992, back when the Golden State was a purple state that routinely elected Republican governors. Feinstein hasn’t moved with California. She has voted for more than half of Trump’s nominees – and she votes with Trump nearly a third of the time, even though he lost California by 30 points. She still thinks Trump “can be a good president.”
The decision to endorse wasn’t made lightly. Over 1,000 Californian members of Climate Hawks Vote voted in our endorsement survey, and the results came back nearly two to one for de León over Feinstein.