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Climate Politics Almanac: June 14 primary results
A look back at the primaries in Texas, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Carolina
TX-34: Former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela already did plenty to thwart climate action by joining with the “Unbreakable Nine” last year. Now, by resigning his seat early to become a lobbyist with fossil fuel Big Law firm AkinGump, Vela has also made Democrats’ thin House majority even thinner for the remainder of the year. Republican Mayra Flores, an oil-loving QAnon sympathizer supported by the world’s wealthiest man, defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez in the special election for Vela’s D+4 swing district, and will face off against against another Unbreakable Nine Member, the oily Democratic Rep. Vicente González in November.
ME-Gov: Democratic governor Janet Mills disappointed climate activists last year when she vetoed a bill to create a consumer-owned utility in Maine, but she will nonetheless enjoy the support of climate and environmental organizations as she attempts to fend off the return of former Republican governor Paul LePage, a blustery right-winger who prides himself on being “Trump before Trump” and once touted climate change as good for the shipping business.
ME-02: Rep. Jared Golden, an Unbreakable Nine Member, currently represents the Trump-friendliest district of any Democrat in the US House. He will face a tough re-election against former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who voted to gut all sorts of climate safeguards during his previous tenure in Congress, which ended when he lost to Golden in 2018 (a fact Poliquin had a very hard time accepting).
ME-State Senate: Democrats will be working to defend their 21-13 majority in the state senate. Among the most-watched seats will be SD 13, a swing district that Harvard fossil fuel divestment activist/state senator Chloe Maxmin is vacating, and where Republican Abden Simmons will face the apparent winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Cameron Reny, whom Maxmin endorsed. Other key districts are SD 1, where Senate President Troy Jackson will be defending his northern Maine district against Republican state Rep. Sue Bernard; SD 7, where state Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D) won Tuesday’s special election, establishing herself as the frontrunner in the fall against former Sen. Brian Langley (R); SD 11, where Belfast Sen. Chip Curry (D) will defend his seat against a challenge from state Rep. MaryAnne Kinney (R); SD 20, where former Sen. Eric Brakey (R) faces former state Rep. BettyAnn Sheets (D); and SD 26, where former state Sen. Gary Plummer (R) will face Windham Town Councilor Timothy Nangle (D).
ME-State House: Democrats’ 79-63-3 majority in the state house is considered up for grabs this cycle. Some of the key general election matchups are set in the most competitive districts, e.g. HD 98, where Democratic state Rep. Orion Breed will defend her seat against likely Republican primary winner Joseph Galletta. In HD-37, Democratic state Rep. Margaret English-Flanagan will face apparent Republican primary winner Reagan Paul. In HD 86, Democratic state Rep. Jessica Fay will be going up against her 2020 opponent, Republican Gary Foster.
There were also results in primaries for safer Democratic seats. In the HD-48 primary, climate activist Thomas Moroney was easily defeated by incumbent state Rep. Holly Stover, though it is unclear if Moroney’s climate platform was actually better than Stover’s. Both candidates in the HD 100 primary reportedly called for “more aggressive climate action,” and Brunswick Town Councilor Dan Ankeles won. Activist Charles Skoid, the endorsed choice of the outgoing progressive state rep, won his election against a Chamber of Commerce board member in the Democratic primary for Portland’s HD 119. Local planning board member and clean energy adviser Gerry Runte, Jr. was endorsed by the Sierra Club in his climate-forward campaign for HD 146, and currently holds a fairly comfortable lead over realtor Heath Oullette.
NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is running for re-election in one of the key Senate races nationally, and she’ll face Trump-backed former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who was attacked for halting inquires into ExxonMobil during his previous campaign for governor.
NV-Gov: When Democratic governor Steve Sisolak took office in 2019, it marked the first time Dems had held the trifecta in Nevada since 1992, and Sisolak responded by initiating some early steps toward climate action. In his race for re-election this year, Sisolak will face Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a supposedly more moderate Republican who nevertheless benefitted from an endorsement from Trump and favors tougher voting restrictions.
NV-Treasurer: Four years ago, Democratic state treasurer Zach Conine was elected to his first term by a very narrow margin. Conine will be running for re-election against Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore, a self-proclaimed “ardent” supporter of the Second Amendment who is running with support from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and spends curious amounts of time with the right-wing militia extremist Bundy family.
NV-Secretary of State: In the open seat race to administer Nevada’s elections, attorney and former Harry Reid staffer Cisco Aguilar will be the Democratic nominee, while the Republican primary was won by Jim Marchant, another QAnon-aligned candidate who was part of the “alternate slate” of electors that Trump attempted to use to overturn the 2020 election.
NV-01: Rep. Dina Titus, who complained of being drawn into Nevada’s most difficult Dem-held congressional district, easily beat back a primary challenge from Green New Deal champion Amy Vilela. In the general election, Titus’ opponent will likely be Republican Mark Robertson, who pledges to support an “all of the above” energy strategy.
NV-State legislature: Redistricting made things slightly safer for Democrats, but Republicans will still attempt to flip both chambers in Nevada’s legislature this year, where Democrats currently hold an 11-9 majority in the state senate and a 26-16 edge in the state assembly. The most competitive race for state senate will probably take place in SD 8, where incumbent Democratic senator Marilyn Dondero-Loop appears likely to face the apparent winner of the Republican primary, Joey Paulos. Another close race will likely occur in SD 20, where Democrat Brent Foutz will face Republican Jeff Stone. Over in SD 21, Democratic incumbent James Ohrenschall currently leads his primary challenger Jacqueline Alvidrez, the founder of a business called Crypto Saves Us (it does not).
There isn’t much to report from the fracking haven of North Dakota, where Republican Sen. John Hoeven and Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong are expected to win re-election easily.
SC-Gov: Republican governor Henry McMaster, who leads a state that is acutely affected by the climate crisis yet supported Trump’s exit from the Paris climate agreements, is heavily favored to win re-election. Following Tuesday’s primary, McMaster’s Democratic opponent will be former Rep. Joe Cunningham, whose signature accomplishment after winning an upset 2018 victory to a Charleston-based congressional seat was passing his ban on offshore drilling through the House.
SC-07: State Rep. Russell Fry, a Trump endorsee, won the Republican primary over incumbent Rep. Tom Rice, one of only a few House Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment and had some fairly reasonable ideas about flood insurance while representing this coastal Myrtle Beach-based district.
Next up: A look ahead to the June 21st primaries in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.