Enviro groups see big win in efforts to put climate, energy on election agenda
Nov. 7, 2012
'Flat Earthers' are out, 'Climate Heroes' in, as results from Tuesday's election are tallied.
By Douglas Fischer
The Daily Climate
The 2012 election was supposed to be all about the economy. But in state and federal races throughout the country, candidates targeted by environmentalists for their positions on climate and energy lost Tuesday in large numbers.
Three of the "Flat Earth Five" – Republican House members identified by the League of Conservation Voters for their anti-science stance on climate change – lost their races Tuesday, with the remaining two too close to call Wednesday afternoon.
And nine of the League's "dirty dozen" candidates – targeted for "consistently vot[ing] against clean energy and conservation" – lost their bids for public office.
League of Conservation Voters
Meanwhile candidates identified as "climate heroes" by a coalition led by author and activist Bill McKibben and others mostly prevailed in the polls.
"It was a very big night for the environmental community," said League spokesman Jeff Gohringer on Wednesday. "Our goal from the outset was to change the politics on climate change.... We sent a message that it's not acceptable to be a member of Congress and turn your back on scientific fact."
$3 million campaign
The league spent $3 million on the "Flat Earth Five" campaign. Of the five, Republican Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Francisco Canesco of Texas and Joe Walsh of Illinois lost their seats, though by Wednesday Buerkle had yet to concede. In Michigan, the race between incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Benishek and Democratic challenger Gary McDowell was separated by 100 votes with 71 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday.
The fifth "Flat Earther," California Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, trailed his challenger, Democrat Ami Bera, by fewer than 200 votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday.
Bera, a public health physician, was marked as a "climate hero" by Citizens Determined to Elect Clean Energy Champions, led by McKibben and others. The group raised some $140,000 in a web-based campaign to support state and federal candidates friendly to renewable energy and green technologies.
Many of their candidates won or were on the verge of victory, from Senators-elect Christopher Murphy in Connecticut, Mazie Hirono in Hawaii and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts to Jay Inslee in Washington, who had a slight lead Wednesday in a tight race for the governor's office .
"We went into this election cycle and the notion was that environmental champions were going to be wiped off the map," LCV's Gohringer said. "We proved them wrong. We did $3 million worth of advertising on climate change in places like Texas, and we won. We proved the conventional wisdom wrong."
Correction (Nov. 7): Earlier versions of this story incorrectly reported that Jay Inslee had won the governor's race in Washington. The race remains too close to call.
DailyClimate.org is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering climate change. Contact editor Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at] DailyClimate.org
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