CLCV 2020 California Primary Synopsis

CLCV 2020 California Primary Synopsis

In the past few years, we have witnessed Big Oil doubling down its efforts to hold back California’s environmental agenda. With a $100 million war chest, Big Oil and corporate interests have successfully turned the State Senate more conservative on environmental issues. These efforts have resulted in stalling bold legislative climate solutions in Sacramento. We have also witnessed Big Oil’s strategic investment in local races—especially in the Central Valley and Inland Empire—creating a pipeline of candidates who have no problem placing profits over the environment.

Heading into the March primary, the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) reaffirmed its role in shaping California politics. We focused our federal and state PAC efforts on preventing candidates funded by Big Oil from making it to the November general election and helping elect more environmental leaders in the Senate. CLCV re-vamped efforts to educate voters and elect environmental champions by pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into races across the state.

Knowing we needed to outwork and out-hustle Big Oil, CLCV:

• Partnered with the Consumer Attorneys of California along with major labor unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to build a coalition to push back against misinformation.

• Leaned into technology by launching a text messaging program to promote environmental champions in the Assembly and Senate.

• Communicated with voters through direct mail, digital ads, and text messaging to spotlight bad environmental votes and the amount of money candidates received from Big Oil – this tactic was extremely effective in persuading voters to support our endorsed candidates in our top 3 races in spite being outspent by Big Oil.

• Mobilized volunteers for priority races to phone bank and knock on doors – these efforts helped 95% of CLCV’s endorsed candidates move on to the November election.

We know California has the opportunity unlike any other state to lead when it comes to implementing bold climate solutions. And we have the policy solutions, what we are missing is the political will. Here’s what we learned this cycle about building that power:

California voters reject Big Oil candidates: CLCV worked to unmask Big Oil candidates in 2 Senate races and 1 Assembly race – voters in all 3 districts rejected the Big Oil candidates and voted for CLCV’s endorsed candidates, stopping Oil candidates from advancing to the November General Election. This was a major victory since we are now positioned to elect real environmental champions in November. (Susan Talamantes Eggman defeated Mani Grewal in Senate District 5, Dave Cortese & Ann Ravel defeated Nora Campos in Senate District 15, and Lisa Calderon defeated Sylvia Rubio in Assembly District 57).

Congressional House seats can’t be taken for granted: the 6 first-term California House Members, and our new CD 25 candidate, all survived their primaries to make it to the November election; however, the close election results demonstrate that these seats remain competitive and November will be a tough fight to keep these districts pro-environment.

We have more to do to get full representation at all levels of government: Black, Indigenous, candidates of color, LGBTQ, and women candidates championing climate action won in some regions and struggled in others. We need to scale up our investment to ensure a representative slate of environmental leaders in every region are viable through candidate recruitment and training.

Grassroots power is real but needs more investment: We launched a new local league in the Inland Empire and are working to develop another in the Fresno region (adding to our existing seven Local Leagues). In local races, the election results were mixed, which demonstrates why we need further investment to build a pipeline of environmental and environmental justice leaders across the state, especially young, diverse, female and LGBTQ candidates.

Posted on March 18, 2020 in Groundswell Blog.

Building Democracy. Electing Environmental Champions. Protecting Our Future.

We are California's voice, statewide and nationally, for bold climate action. We elect and cultivate environmental champions, turn election victories into policy wins, hold our lawmakers accountable, and build political power to transform our political system and achieve climate justice.

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