US Senate Stays Blue, and Could Still Get Greener

When the final surge of mailed ballots was counted in Nevada, one critical result was clear. The Democratic Senate majority—led by those committed to climate action and environmental justice—will remain in control of that chamber of Congress.

On Saturday, counting of the mass of mailed ballots from heavily Democratic Clark County, Nevada, was completed. With those votes counted, incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) surged past her challenger into a lead too great to overcome with the ballots yet to be tallied. Cortez Masto’s win call followed similar results on Friday for incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) in Arizona. The day before that, continued counting of ballots in Pennsylvania showed that Democratic candidate John Fetterman had won that state’s open Senate seat over Trump-endorsed television celebrity Mehmet Oz. Pennsylvania is the only state thus far in 2022 to flip a Senate seat from one party to the other.

Only one Senate seat still remains undetermined. That’s in Georgia, where incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) narrowly led his Trump-endorsed challenger Herschel Walker in the final vote tallies. However, neither candidate won more than half of the total votes cast for Senator in Georgia, so under that state’s election laws those two candidates will match off in a runoff vote concluding on December 6.

Party control of the Senate for the next two years is no longer at stake in that runoff. However, if the ‘blue’ (Democratic) majority is no longer in play, the ‘green’ of that majority is still very much at stake. A victory by Warnock in the runoff would mean 51 Democratic Senators instead of 50. Content of the budget and other legislation would no longer be subject to veto by dirty energy advocate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). (Manchin’s opposition last summer killed what would otherwise have been a stronger version of the climate-action package which later passed Congress.)

“Warnock has a 100 percent environmental score from the League of Conservation Voters for 2021, his first full year in the Senate. He earned that score in part by voting for a resolution supporting President Biden’s initial Build Back Better legislation, which did not pass; voting to repeal a roll-back of methane regulations by the Trump administration; voting against a resolution that sought to keep the Keystone XL Pipeline alive after Biden nixed it; and voting to support the Freedom to Vote Act, which Democrats said would have protected free and fair elections,” noted Inside Climate News in its coverage of the Warnock/Walker matchup. 

In contrast, Walker is a classic climate-change denier, who has shown no understanding of the issue nor its critical impact on the people whom he would represent in Washington.

As a consequence, climate action advocates were already mobilizing for the Georgia runoff vote. The opportunity to displace Manchin as a must-have vote on matters impacting the environment should only intensify their motivation.

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