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Climate Politics Almanac: It's A Green Wave

Climate champs, trifecta turnovers, and Exxon's enemies

A quick look at today’s climate news: Hurricane Nicole made landfall near Vero Beach this morning, killing two and leaving over 300,000 Floridians without power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is at COP27 in Egypt today, and President Joe Biden is heading there this week.

In this newsletter, we review the still-unfolding results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, which proved that the corporate media’s consensus predictions of a Republican wave were unfounded. In the final days before the election, President Joe Biden directed voter anger over inflation and high gas prices to the greatest beneficiaries—Big Oil profiteers. Driven by concerns over the GOP assault on abortion rights and on election integrity, voters across the nation—especially youth—tipped the scales towards Democrats in both local and national elections.

As of this writing, it looks likely that Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate, and may even gain a seat, depending on the Georgia runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. Republicans are very likely to retake the House, thanks to redistricting and the collapse of the Democratic delegation in New York, but by a much slimmer margin than the punditocracy predicted.

For Democrats to keep the House, they would have to score a few more upsets—of particular note, progressive, populist climate hawk Jamie McLeod-Skinner is trailing in the count against Lori Chavez-DeRemer in Oregon’s Fifth and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attorney Kirsten Engel is behind Juan Ciscomani in Arizona’s Sixth, but late votes should tighten the results.

You can still make a difference in key races by helping Nevada voters cure their ballots to ensure they’re counted.

M&M&M&Ms: The Tetrad of Trifecta Turnovers

Going into the midterms, Republicans had full control of the state legislatures and governorships in 23 states and Democrats 14.

In four states, Democrats newly have full control, all beginning with M: Maryland, with Wes Moore defeating Dan Cox for the governorship; Massachusetts, with state Attorney General Maura Healey defeating Geoff Diehl for the governorship; Michigan with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reëlected and Democrats flipping both the house and senate; and Minnesota, with Gov. Tim Walz reëlected and Democrats flipping the senate).

Inside Climate News has an in-depth look at the prospects for climate and clean-energy action in these four states now that Republican opposition is curtailed.

Votes are still being counted in two states in the desertifying Southwest: If Democrat Katie Hobbs holds on to defeat Kari Lake for Arizona governor, Democrats will break the Republican trifecta there. There is only one state where the current Democratic trifecta is under threat: Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.) is in a tight race to maintain his seat against Republican challenger Joe Lombardo.

Climate Hawks Score Big Wins Across The Nation

Climate hawks, many endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote, scored some key wins in tight Congressional races.

IL-06: Clean-energy hawk Sean Casten holds on after a truly tough year to win re-election, defeating challenger Keith Pekau. Hot FERC Summer will return!

IL-07: Climate hawk meteorologist Eric Sorensen eked out a victory to succeed Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) in a redrawn Mississippi River district.

MI-03: Former DOJ attorney Hillary Scholten flipped the seat held by outgoing Rep. Peter Meijer by beating Trump loyalist John Gibbs. While not an aggressive climate hawk, Scholten has pledged to tackle the state’s crisis of water polluted by PFAS and lead.

NC-13: State Sen. Wiley Nickel, who used to work for Al Gore and ran for office after a Climate Reality training, flipped this open GOP seat, formerly held by Rep. Ted Budd (who was unfortunately successful in his U.S. Senate bid). Nickel beat Trump-favorite Bo Hines, a 26-year-old Yalie.

NM-02: Former Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) staffer Gabe Vasquez narrowly defeated oily incumbent Rep. Yvette Herrell.

OH-01: Climate denier Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) lost his redrawn seat to Democratic Cincinnati City Councilmember Greg Landsman, who has helped implement his city’s local version of the Green New Deal.

VT-AL: Vermont State Senate Majority Leader Becca Balint, who regularly writes about climate politics, was easily elected to the seat once held by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Green Governors

In Oregon, asshole billionaire Phil Knight struck out, as climate-hawk Democrat Tina Kotek won the tight race for the governorship against two Knight-backed fossil-fuel allies.

Democratic incumbents Tim Walz in Minnesota and Tony Evers in Wisconsin won close races against radical climate deniers, and Josh Shapiro, who prosecuted fracking companies as the state attorney general, is the new governor of Pennsylvania.

Evergreen Action details the challenges ahead in a comprehensive memo about the gubernatorial victories.

Sunrise-Backed Green New Deal Champions Head To Congress

The Sunrise Movement endorsed eight Green New Deal Congressional champions, all people of color. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won reëlection. They will be joined by two freshmen:

PA-12: Pittsburgh-area State Rep. Summer Lee will be the first Black woman ever to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. She overcame millions of dollars of attacks in her primary and general campaign from right-wing billionaires.

TX-35: Democratic Socialists of America organizer Greg Casar will represent Austin after a strong campaign.

Local Climate Hawks Take The Lead

Candidates backed by Lead Locally and the Climate Cabinet, two small but nimble organizations, had a very good night. In most cases, these races were run by less than ten points—competitive contests where the support provided to them made a real difference.

So far, the Lead Locally Green New Deal slate has 18 victories, 7 losses, 21 races not yet called, and one candidate headed to a run-off: Sylvia Campos, vying for a seat on the Corpus Christi city council. In addition to many of the candidates involved in the trifecta-switches mentioned above, some other highlights include:

  • Climate hawk Jim Klein won an at-large seat on the Corpus Christi city council, running on a platform of fighting the oil & gas export industry’s local and global environmental devastation. He credited his win to the backing of environmental organizations.

  • Stephanie Garcia Richard overcame massive spending from Chevron to win reëlection as a New Mexico Land Commissioner.

  • St. Louis Alderman Megan Ellyia-Green is the new president of the City Board of Aldermen.

  • Mike Kelly, founder of Climate Action KC, is the new Chairman of the Johnson County Commission in Kansas.

Climate Cabinet’s top-priority Climate Slate fared very well, with 8 wins and 6 leading but uncalled in legislative races in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Their only loss was Kristin Dozier’s bid to be mayor of Tallahassee.

It’s Good To Go After Exxon

The Democratic attorneys general who sued Big Oil for climate deception did very well last night: in addition to the aforementioned Maura Healey becoming Massachusetts governor, the AGs Keith Ellison (Minn.), William Tong (Conn.), Peter Neronha (R.I.), and Kathy Jennings (Del.) all won reëlection. As ever, Emily Sanders has the full run-down in ExxonNews.

Climate Action Today:

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. In an upcoming post, we’ll take a look at the outcome of climate ballot initiatives.

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