The Environment is a Winning Issue in 2018

By Craig Auster, PAC & advocacy partnerships director

Campaigns across the country are kicking into high gear for the sprint to Election Day. Candidates have spent the last year or more listening to voters and considering how to best address those voters’ concerns and needs. From now until November 6, voters across the country will continue to hear about candidates’ values and plans as they are inundated with ads on their televisions, smartphones and computers.

And one of the most important messages that candidates have received is that voters are tired of the constant attacks from Congress and the Trump administration on the safeguards that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our shared outdoor heritage. A poll, conducted earlier this year for LCV Victory Fund, found that in 20 battleground U.S. House districts the environment is an issue that can swing competitive races in 2018. In fact, the polling found that highlighting the Trump administration’s attacks on the environment and public health shifts vote choice by 11 percent in favor of the pro-environment challengers.

Reflecting voters’ concerns for critical environmental and public health safeguards, candidates are featuring these issues in ads, social media and in conversations with voters. Candidates up and down the ballot from California to Virginia and Minnesota to Texas are talking about clean energy, clean water and public lands on the campaign trail. Here are a few of our favorite environmental ads so far in 2018:

Governors Races

  • Gubernatorial candidate in Colorado, Jared Polis, has been a strong environmental advocate during his tenure in the House of Representatives and is now running for governor in order to grow and protect Colorado’s world-class outdoor spaces and recreation economy. He has also pledged to move Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy, which is mentioned in his ad: Bold Ideas. Real Results.
  • Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan, has proposed an infrastructure plan that would speed up the replacement of lead pipes and create a new Department of Great Lakes and Freshwater to protect Michigan’s water resources. Her ad, Water, lists cities in Michigan that have more lead in the water than Flint and calls for action to clean up the state’s water.
  • Steve Sisolak, Democratic nominee for governor of Nevada, helped attract clean energy companies to Nevada when he was the Clark County Commission chair and is committed to increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. He released a video laying out his “bold environmental vision,” which includes protecting public lands, conserving water resources, and supporting the ballot initiative to increase renewable energy.
  • In Congress, Michelle Lujan Grisham helped raise the profile of the climate crisis in New Mexico by speaking out on the drought, wildfires, and clean energy jobs. She has continued to emphasize these same issues during her gubernatorial campaign and her first ad, Runway, discusses the positive impact that clean energy can have on the state’s economy. In contrast, Republican nominee Steve Pearce has supported weakening the laws that protect New Mexico from pollution, which is the subject of the ad Clear from Stronger New Mexico, a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association.
  • Incumbent Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has pushed for greenhouse gas emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. She has also helped bring a new offshore wind project to Rhode Island, currently the only state with an offshore wind farm. She touts the environmental and economic progress the state has made under her leadership in her new ad, The Ocean State.
  • Fred Hubbell, the Democratic candidate for Governor in Iowa, released an ad, Closer Look, which responds to attacks from his opponent. His ad discusses how Hubbell led the Iowa Power Fund, which made Iowa a “national leader in renewable energy.”
  • The Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire, state senator Molly Kelly, released People Energy, which criticizes her opponent for taking money from a utility company and vetoing renewable energy legislation. She also discusses her record of fighting to expand clean energy and create new jobs.

Senate Races

  • Delaware Senator Tom Carper has been a leading voice for clean air and water and fighting climate change as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In one of his campaign ads, Fierce, he promises to stand up to the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plans and their attacks on environmental safeguards.
  • Incumbent Democratic Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, released a digital ad, “Algae,” in response to his opponent, Rick Scott, releasing an ad blaming Nelson for Florida’s algae crisis. The ad also cites an op-ed from Florida Conservation Voters. Nelson had previously released a digital ad, “Oil Slick”, discussing his opposition to offshore drilling, Scott’s past support for offshore oil drilling, and the Trump administration’s political gift to Scott.
  • The Democratic political group Majority Forward is running an ad titled, Mess, attacking Republican Governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott for Florida’s environmental problems, including the toxic red tide that has caused economic damage and negative health impacts.
  • Montana Senator Jon Tester has been a strong advocate for public lands in the U.S. Senate and has consistently fought for the full funding and permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In two of his campaign ads, Not for Sale and Wired to Fight, Senator Tester discusses his record championing protections for public lands and the outdoors.
  • New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich has been a champion for clean energy and conservation in his state, and he sponsored legislation to modernize energy infrastructure and reduce carbon pollution. Two of his newest campaign ads, Clean and Every Corner, discuss those accomplishments and his goals of continuing to protect the state’s public lands and grow the clean energy economy.

House Races

  • Harley Rouda, running for Congress in CA-48, has made stopping offshore drilling in California and growing the clean energy technology industry key parts of his campaign. Rouda’s first ad, Future, which was released during the primary, focuses solely on environmental issues and how protecting the environment is also good for a stronger economy.
  • Clean energy entrepreneur and environmental attorney Mike Levin, who is running for Congress in CA-49 put out the ad Clean Energy, which touts his work with environmental organizations and clean energy companies.
  • Joe Neguse, who is running for Congress in CO-02, is the founder of the non-profit New Era Colorado, which focuses on climate change and clean energy issues. In his ad, Conscience, Neguse promises to stand up to Donald Trump on climate change issues.
  • Diane Mitsch Bush, the Democratic candidate for Congress in CO-03, has been a consistent environmental champion in Colorado’s state legislature and her first ad focuses on her desire to protect the environment in the U.S. Congress.
  • Lauren Baer, a Democrat running in FL-18, served as an advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and UN Ambassador Samantha Power — she knows the impact climate change has on our national security. Her first ad includes protecting the environment as one of her priorities.
  • Sean Casten, the Democratic nominee for IL-06, founded clean energy companies and his primary ad, Clean Energy, touts his record and willingness to take on Donald Trump on climate change.
  • Xochitl Torres Small, the Democratic candidate in NM-02, is a lawyer who specializes in natural resources and water rights issues. Her first ads of the primary and general election, Water and Life respectively, talk about conservation and water rights.
  • In TX-01, U.S. Army combat veteran and West Point graduate Joseph Kopser wants to implement a carbon tax and turn Texas into a leader in clean energy production. In one of his ads, titled Champion of Change, he praises President Obama, calling him a “champion of change” for his work promoting clean energy.
  • David Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for Congress in FL-19, released an ad that calls out his Republican opponent over the issue of the red tide in Florida that has devastated local economies. The ad, Clean, calls out incumbent Republican Representative Vern Buchanan for taking money from special interests like big sugar and then voting to gut environmental safeguards.
  • Dan McCready, the Democrat running for Congress in NC-09, released an ad, Created, that focuses on his career in the military and his record of creating jobs in the solar industry. The ad says that McCready helped make North Carolina a leader in solar energy.
  • Leslie Cockburn, the Democratic nominee in VA-05, released her first ad, which touches on a number of issues, but focuses on environmental issues. It highlights her promises to fighting pipelines, support conservation measures, and support clean water safeguards.
  • Jessica Morse, who is running for Congress in CA-04, came out with Rough Terrain that discusses her family’s history in the area, protecting watersheds, and preventing wildfires.