Political trend watchers nationwide looked to last week’s key local and state election results to signal whether voters approved of the Trump-led movement to weaken pollution controls and retreat on clean energy and climate change. They saw a resounding “no.”
Election Eve saw President Trump personally pitching the re-election of coal-producing Kentucky’s governor Matt Bevin, who hailed Trump’s dirty energy, pro-polluter policies. He lost to a candidate who has acknowledged the urgency of climate action and talked about the need to move beyond coal and bring low-income Kentuckians into a clean energy economy of the future.
In Virginia, Trump’s party lost its majority in both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in decades. The results paved the way for Gov. Ralph Northam to join a multi-state carbon reduction pact.
“When it comes to climate, there has been dramatic failure of leadership at the federal level, which has created the opportunity for states to lead. Virginia, based on these election results tonight, is planning to be at the forefront of the state movement to combat climate change,” said Will Cleveland, a lawyer at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
The Virginia League of Conservation Voters spent $1.5 million in its campaign to impact legislative races, and signaled that they expected good results to follow. Harrison Wallace, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said, “Our big push will be a bill for a pathway to 100% carbon free electricity. We plan to make it happen here too.”More broadly, the Conservation Voter Movement reported a string of victories in states across the nation. LCV Victory Fund President Gene Karpinski reported last week: “With LCV’s support, our state affiliates invested $4.3 million across 10 states, and saw key victories, including flipping both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly to elect the first pro-conservation majority in the Commonwealth in 25 years, holding onto the pro-environment majority in New Jersey’s State Assembly, electing a pro-conservation majority to the Billings, MT city council, the first Latina Mayor of Tucson, AZ, a new Chester County Commissioner, and more.”