Election Results: "Don't mess with California!"

Nov 3, 2010
By Warner Chabot

“No environmental campaign in U.S. history can boast the level of activism in California this year…” – Los Angeles Times

On election day, you and your fellow environmental voters spoke loud and clear: “Don’t mess with California!”

The resounding defeat of Proposition 23, Texas Oil’s attempt to repeal California’s first-in-the-nation clean energy and climate law, was one of CLCV’s top priorities in this election. We joined an incredible new coalition of environmental groups, clean technology businesses and investors, labor organizations, and public health, social justice and consumer advocates to defend California’s clean air and clean energy law.

Using sophisticated voter targeting methods, CLCV and our 3,200 volunteer partners made 2.8 million phone calls to voters, sent out 3.4 million pieces of mail, and made 379,676 on-campus contacts with college students.  We operated a sophisticated computerized outreach program that identified and contacted nearly half a million “No on 23” voters. We followed up with 900,000 get-out-the vote phone calls and text messages in the last three days.

Our coalition partners included Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition, Environment California, CalPIRG Students, the Sierra Club, Credo Mobile, the Blue Green Alliance, the Alliance for Climate Protection, EDF Action Fund, the NRDC Action Fund, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

As a result, we are celebrating a stunning victory in the largest public referendum on climate change policies in history. We can proudly say that California remains the national leader on creating clean energy jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and creating solutions to global warming.

From the top of the ticket all the way to the races for Assembly and state Senate, CLCV was successful in our mission of electing and re-electing California’s best conservation champions. (See the full election results here.)

Senator Barbara Boxer and her staff personally thanked the California League of Conservation Voters for contacting our members, other environmental voters and members of the press about Boxer’s consistent, strong environmental leadership in the U.S. Senate. Together with our partners at the national League of Conservation Voters, we helped her beat Carly Fiorina, a member of the national League’s “Dirty Dozen.”

Jerry Brown—the highest scoring governor in the nearly 40-year history of CLCV’s Environmental Scorecard—will once again serve as California's governor. During the year leading up to the election, CLCV’s “Build a Greener Governor” campaign helped reinforce the environment as a major and defining issue in this race. Brown’s positive message about creating economic growth through clean energy and innovation resonated with voters, who rejected Meg Whitman’s threat to suspend California’s clean energy and climate law and her waffling on offshore oil drilling.

Gavin Newsom will bring his passion for environmental protection to the post of Lieutenant Governor.  Kamala Harris, who has pledged to defend California’s environmental and public health protections and vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes against California’s environment, appears poised to become our state’s next Attorney General. It may be several more days, however, before this race is decided. With our partners in the California Alliance, we prevailed against millions of dollars of attack ads by the insurance industry and helped elect consumer advocate Dave Jones as Insurance Commissioner.

CLCV routinely wins more than 90% of the races in which we make an endorsement (in this election, we had a 94% success rate). More importantly, of the 25 high-priority candidates we worked hardest to elect, 22 won, one lost, and two are currently too close to call.

(See the results of all of the statewide and state legislative races here.)

While we won the vast majority of our election night battles, we also saw some major setbacks for the environment. Proposition 21, which would have provided secure funding for state parks, was defeated. While voters have signaled several times in the last ten years that they are willing to pay for this critical resource, Prop 21’s defeat was a rejection of the “ballot-box budgeting” forced upon voters by the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a state budget.  Happily, this requirement was reduced to a majority vote by the passage of Proposition 25.

Unfortunately, we also saw the passage of Proposition 26, the “Polluter Protection Act.” Prop 26 is a broad attack on the state’s ability to collect fees from industries whose products and activities harm Californians and our environment.

This election, however, was full of good news for the environment. With your support, we elected a strong team of environmental champions. And we prevailed in the largest public referendum in history on clean energy and climate policy. Once again, California leads the nation.

Thank you for your important contribution to this historic victory and for helping us win the tough fights. Together, we will build a greener California for future generations.

Warner Chabot is CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters.



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