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Climate Politics Almanac: June 28 primary preview, Part I
An update on Cisneros-Cuellar, the California primaries, and a look at Colorado's primary
Congress and Hill Heat are mostly on vacation this week. Today we look at the June 28th primaries, check in on the Cisneros-Cuellar race, and see how the early results from California have since changed after all ballots were counted.
May 24 Texas runoff update: Cisneros concedes
After a recount, the Green New Dealer Jessica Cisneros conceded to the anti-climate, anti-gun-control, anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar, who won by only 289 votes, thanks to the active support of House leadership—Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Whip Jim Clyburn.
June 7 California primary updates
We will start off with an update from our previous overview of California primary results. As David Dayen notes at The American Prospect, the weeks-long process for processing mail ballots in California led to national media misinterpreting early results that then changed. In the Los Angeles mayoral race, mail ballots have helped Rep. Karen Bass overtake real-estate billionaire Rick Caruso for a first-place finish in an election that will continue through November. Another noteworthy change occurred in the climate pivotal Insurance Commissioner race, where Assemblymember Marc Levine has passed Republican Robert Howell for second place, meaning Levine will likely be taking his climate hawk message to the general election against incumbent Ricardo Lara.
In the race for Levine’s Marin County-based Assembly district, California coastal commissioner Sara Aminzadeh advanced to the general election with a strong second-place finish, taking 36% of the vote against San Rafael Vice Mayor Damon Connolly’s 38%. Connolly has also emphasized climate action in his campaign, but Aminzadeh has enthusiastic support from Sunrise Sonoma, Bill McKibben, and an impressive list of climate leaders. Mail ballots also pushed the Sierra Club-endorsed slate of incumbents Dan Brotman and Ara Najarian, along with Parks Commission Chair Elen Asatryan, into the top three slots for Glendale City Council. This outcome should ensure that a pro-climate majority sits on the council as it decides whether to approve new methane gas generators, almost guaranteed to become stranded assets, at Glendale’s Grayson Power Plant.
Each year, the climate crisis in Colorado grows, as the snowpack decreases, drought and wildfires expand, and frackers accelerate the state’s decline.
CO-Sen: Just a few months into his second full term in 2017, Democratic senator Michael Bennet extended a parochial courtesy by introducing Trump’s far-right Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a Colorado native, whom Bennet ultimately voted against. Bennet and Gorsuch shared more than just a home state. They also share the same mentor: oil and gas billionaire Philip Anschutz. Bennet has occasionally won praise from liberals for moments of rhetorical flair and some thoughtful economic proposals, but overall, his centrism has had a stubborn “both sides” quality to it. In a 2018 interview, Bennet explained his position that the Keystone XL pipeline (which he supported in 2015) was a “real distraction” and accused climate and Dem organizations of seeking to merely fundraise off the issue. (Bennet now opposes the KXL project, but there is no word on whether he still thinks constructing a pipeline that would lock in climate pollution through 2030 and beyond would be worth including in a bipartisan deal alongside Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which reached its 2030 pollution reduction targets ten years early despite never going into effect.) Democratic Super PACs apparently want Bennet’s Republican opponent to be state Rep. Ron Hanks, who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot. Hanks is facing business owner Joe O’Dea in the Republican primary.
CO-Gov: Democratic governor Jared Polis is running for a second term. Although Polis has mostly continued the industry-friendly posture of his predecessor John “Frackenlooper” by keeping fracking initiatives off the ballot, he has taken some some steps toward climate action by signing a bill that set the stage for Colorado’s new “financial assurance” rule and establishing an “Office of Just Transition” that applies to Colorado’s coal sector but not its oil and gas sector. Dem-affiliated groups are spending in an effort to make sure Polis’ Republican opponent is 2020 election denier/former Parker mayor Greg Lopez, who is running against University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl.
CO-03: Rep. Lauren Boebert, a gun-toting QAnon sympathizer, defeated an incumbent in the Republican primary in 2020, then went on to win a competitive general election race. While there was some question as to whether the seat would be made Democratic in redistricting, it became slightly more Republican, meaning the contest to determine whether Boebert continues to spout her conspiracy theories from Congress will take place in the Republican primary. Some Democrats in the district are reportedly switching their party registration to unaffiliated in order to vote for Boebert’s primary opponent, a more moderate state senator named Don Coram. The Democratic candidates here are social worker Sol Sandoval, who is supported by Friends of the Earth, former Aspen city councilmember Adam Frisch, and engineer Alex Walker.
CO-07: Rep. Ed Perlmutter is retiring from a D+6 seat, and the primary on the Dem side has been cleared for state senator Brittany Pettersen, who has built a respectable climate record in the General Assembly. The Republican primary is between Erik Aadland, a former oil and gas worker endorsed by Rick Perry and Ryan Zinke; 2020 election denier Laurel Imer; and Republican recruit Tim Reichert, who strikes some interesting antitrust reformer notes on his website.
CO-08: Colorado’s new congressional district is a competitive R+3 seat. The Democratic nominee will be state representative Yadira Caraveo. Dem-affiliated Super PACs seem to want to make sure that Caraveo’s general election opponent is ultraconservative Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, who has bragged that she "took on radical left-wing environmental extremists and defended our oil and gas jobs, our water rights and our Colorado way of life." Saine’s main primary opponent is state senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, who says the “climate is always changing.”
Colorado state senate: One of the most contested state legislative chambers this cycle will be the Colorado state senate, where Democrats are defending their current 20-15 majority. Most of the competitive general election matchups are already determined, so the main race to watch on election night is the Republican primary in the D+5, Arapahoe County-based senate district 27, where bankruptcy lawyer Tom Kim is going up against small business owner JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin. The winner will go on to the general election against Democratic state representative Tom Sullivan, who lost his son in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.