Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer is already targeting states for his $100 million spending spree to make global warming a top issue in the November elections. Democrats in Florida and Washington are likely to see a huge funding boost from Steyer and his climate activist groups.
Florida Is Drowning In Campaign Cash
Steyer, a former hedge fund manager turned eco-activist, is gearing up to take on Florida’s multi-millionaire Republican Gov. Rick Scott in his bid for reelection this fall.
Expecting a costly race in the Sunshine State, Steyer has set up a Florida headquarters for his activist group NextGen Climate Action and given it $750,000 in seed funding to lay the groundwork for his anti-Scott campaign this fall. The Miami Herald reports that Democrats are “buzzing” that Steyer could dump $10 million into Florida this fall.
Steyer plans to make sea level rises a key component of his plan to defeat Gov. Scott on the issue of global warming. Environmentalists and scientists argue that as the Earth warms, sea levels will rise, submerging many coastal regions.
“It’s hard to look at the map of the United States and not understand that not only is Florida ground zero for climate [change], it’s the third most-populous state,” Steyer told the Miami Herald.
“When you think about why this is an important state to be in, it’s because it’s actually a linchpin,” said Steyer.
But Rick Scott has his own strategy for fighting off Steyer’s attacks: spend $1 billion on environmental conservation. His plan would fund things like land and water conservation and protecting the Everglades. Scott would also spend $50 million a year on “alternative water-supply projects and another $50 million a year for natural springs restoration” as well as increasing fines for polluters, reports the Daily Commercial.
Scott’s plan has won the approval of some local environmental groups who want to see the state’s water resources receive more funding. Democrats have called the effort a phony attempt to please environmentally conscious voters.
“We agree with Governor Scott that we need to invest in protecting Florida’s water quality, the Everglades, and our treasured natural areas,” Will Abberger, campaign manager for the Florida Water and Land Legacy — a group backed by major environmental organizations.
But environmentalists say that while they agree with Scott’s efforts, they believe a pending state constitutional amendment would go farther in protecting Florida’s water resources.
Steyer’s group NextGen Climate has already conducted polling and plans big ad buys across a wide variety of mediums to defeat Scott. NexGen will also funnel lots of money to field groups that can motivate voters to get to the polls.
The Miami Herald, however, notes that Florida is the most expensive state to campaign in given its status as a swing state. In fact, in the 2010 election cycle Scott spent $75.1 million of his own money to get elected. This election cycle, he has already spent more than $20 million on TV ads, while his opponent Charlie Crist and his fellow Democrats have only spent $5 million.
Inslee, Steyer Bet On Oysters For Victory This Year
Across the country, Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is using the plight of oyster farmers as his rallying cry for action on global warming. Inslee is betting that oyster farmers and millions of dollars from Steyer will be his ticket to becoming the most climate-conscious U.S. governor.
Inslee hopes to use Steyer’s millions to defeat sitting Republican lawmakers opposing his plans for a cap-and-trade in Washington state. Past efforts to pass cap-and-trade through the state legislature have failed, forcing Inslee to take a cue from President Obama and use executive orders to impose climate policies.
In April, Inslee issued an executive order to create a state cap-and-trade program after signing an executive agreement with other Democratic West Coast governors to unilaterally impose global warming policies.
Inslee’s plan would create a state cap-and-trade regime, phase out coal power and increase funding to green energy projects. The move was highly controversial, but Inslee swore it was needed for the state to meet its 2020 environmental goals.
Now the Democratic governor hopes to fund the campaigns of sympathetic lawmakers to get legislative backing behind his global warming agenda.
“Having a change in the State Senate would be a quantum shift in our ability to move forward,” Inslee said.
Steyer has yet to name which state Senate candidates his activists will target, but The New York Times reports his strategists are “eyeing about half a dozen key seats that could tip the majority of the State Senate in favor of Mr. Inslee’s agenda.”
Currently, the Washington state Senate has 24 Republicans and 25 Democrats, two of whom actually caucus with Republicans. This has put a damper on Inslee’s global warming efforts. Steyer’s money could help tip the balance of power back to the Democrats.
“Mr. Steyer has not said what he will spend in the districts, but his previous pattern indicates it will be hundreds of thousands of dollars for each candidate — a huge amount for a Washington State race,” The NY Times reports.
Republicans, however, have been quick to point to the fact that Democratic efforts are being pushed by a wealthy out-of-state donor, something which rubs many Washingtonians the wrong way.
“It’s ridiculous that money coming from outside the state is trying to influence our votes,” Rick Tjoelker, a mechanic in Lynden, Washington, told the Times.
But Inslee hopes that his support from Washington oyster farmers will give credence to his cause. Oyster farmers are being told by scientists and eco-activists that global warming will increase ocean acidity and harm their oyster crops.
“We can attribute the problems in the oyster hatcheries to the increased carbon in the ocean,” Terrie Klinger, a professor of marine affairs at the University of Washington, told the Times.
“We have a nursery where we’ve set oysters continuously, but now they can’t develop a healthy shell,” Paul Taylor, a five generation oyster farmer, told the Times. “Right now, it’s just hurting the babies, and in a controlled environment, we can manipulate the chemicals to get those through. But I don’t know at what levels of acidification the adults won’t grow. That unknown is very scary.”
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