Memos & Research

2021 state election recap

Nov 3, 2021

To: Interested parties
From: Pete Maysmith, LCV SVP of Campaigns
Date: November 3, 2021
Re: Environmental champions win key races across the country

On Tuesday, while the losses in Virginia were disappointing, we saw environmental champions win in key races across the country. While LCV affiliate endorsed candidates did not win every race, young, Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and Arab American candidates put climate action and environmental justice front and center in their elections and won up and down the ticket.

Much of our progress on climate and clean energy has come from state and local leaders who have tackled the climate crisis head-on. As a result of their leadership, 1 in 3 people in this country now live in a place committed to 100% clean energy. These races are also vital to meet our national climate goals and will be important to implement federal climate action through the Build Back Better Act.

Here are the wins we saw in 2021 elections:

New Jersey re-elects Phil Murphy, one of the nation’s greenest Governors

Phil Murphy wins re-election, becoming the first New Jersey Democrat re-elected as Governor in 40 years.

Since his election in 2017, Governor Phil Murphy has been one of the strongest environmental champions in the country. He was the first governor to commit to 100% clean energy while campaigning, which he followed up with executive action once in office, and has put New Jersey on track to lead the nation in offshore wind development and achieve 50% clean energy by 2030. Gov. Murphy has also passed landmark environmental justice legislation and fought hard against fossil fuel infrastructure like the PennEast Pipeline that was just cancelled last month

See our previous election memo for details on NJLCV’s investment in the race.


A Historic Win in the Boston Mayor’s Race 

Mayor-elect Michelle Wu will be the first woman of color elected to lead Boston and second to lead the city behind acting Mayor Kim Janey. Wu has committed to citywide carbon neutrality by 2040 – 10 years before the state’s own target and declared in her victory speech that “Boston is ready to become a Green New Deal city.”

Statement from Clare Kelly, Executive Director of the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund on Michelle Wu’s Victory:

“Today, Boston elected the strongest Mayor on climate in the nation. Bold climate action was the foundation on which Michelle Wu built her campaign, and she proved that, in Boston, when candidates run on climate, they win. The ELM Action Fund is proud of the role we played supporting the first woman and the first person of color to be elected mayor of this city. We look forward to partnering with the Wu administration to build a more green, just, and equitable city that will serve as an example for cities across the country.

See our previous election memo for details on ELM Action Fund IE PAC’s investment in the race.


Conservation Ohio Secures Major Victories in Municipal Elections

Conservation Ohio secured major victories in municipal elections in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Lima. Conservation Ohio supported a bold, young, and diverse slate of candidates who were unapologetically ambitious on climate action. 

Victories in Ohio:

  • Cleveland Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb
  • Lima Mayor-Elect Sharetta Smith 
  • Cincinnati Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval
  • Pro-environment Cincinnati Council majority elected:
    • Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, Greg Landsman, Reggie Harris, Meeka Owens, Victoria Parks, Jeff Cramerding, and Mark Jeffreys 

Statements from Conservation Ohio:

“Local mayors and council people are leading the way to adopt policies that protect our water, air, land, create healthier neighborhoods, and invest in our pocketbooks,” said President Heather Taylor-Miesle. “The new mayors and city council members elected last night will continue to lead efforts to act on climate in the state of Ohio – and our people will be better for it!”

“Conservation Ohio invested an unprecedented sum of nearly a half of a million dollars in support of local climate candidates in 2021,” said Political Director Spencer Dirrig. “With a focus on equity and authentic partnerships, we worked directly with frontline organizations and community activists to ensure our climate candidates had the support of the voters for their ambitious environmental platforms.”

The Conservation Ohio Mayoral Climate Candidates elected on Tuesday were elected on bold and ambitious platforms for environmental sustainability and climate action.

Here is what the candidates themselves had to say:

Justin Bibb, Mayor-Elect of Cleveland

As Mayor, my plan to fight climate change starts with acknowledging this issue as a public health emergency and ending the American Municipal Power (AMP) 50-year contract with Cleveland Public Power to transform it into a 21st century utility and transition to a clean energy future….Action on climate change is urgent and there are big and small steps we can take right now to radically reduce our impact.” Source

Aftab Pureval, Mayor-Elect of Cincinnati

“The city’s 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan sets out ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, while expanding the use of renewable energy and achieving citywide carbon neutrality… The challenges of climate change present an opportunity—to build a new economy around clean energy and green technologies, creating thousands of new jobs and invigorating our city while putting the environment first…. With decisive action, strong leadership, and creative solutions, we can continue the progress we’ve already made and be not just a climate change haven, but a climate change role model for cities around the world.” Source

Sharetta Smith, Mayor-Elect of Lima

“According to the most recent data, there are 114,000 people employed in clean-energy jobs in Ohio,” she said. “We do know that the clean energy (industry) offers livable wage jobs, and we also can look on the horizon and see that the country is moving toward cleaner energy, and so there should be an abundance of opportunities for local people who want to (join) these industries.” Source


Historic Election for New Dearborn Mayor

State Representative and Mayor-Elect Abdullah Hammoud will take office as Dearborn’s first Arab-American Mayor. Throughout his time in the state Legislature Hammoud has been a staunch advocate for cleaning up Michigan’s drinking water and air, and protecting access to the ballot for all. Hammoud is a former board member of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.  

Statements from Michigan League of Conservation Voters:

“History was made in Dearborn today with Abdullah Hammoud being elected as Dearborn’s next Mayor. He has been an inspiration to people all across the city by showing them that change is possible. It all starts with us getting civically engaged and participating in elections.” said Salah Ali, a Dearborn resident, Board Member of Michigan LCV Education Fund and an Electrical and Electronics Engineer at Ford Motor Company.  “We wake up with a brighter, more hopeful future now with Abdullah Hamoud as Dearborn’s Mayor. Positive changes are on the horizon; under Hamoud’s leadership, to improve air quality, ensure equitable access to city services and recreation, and invest in Dearborn’s future.” 

“Abdullah Hammoud’s win tonight signals a pivotal moment in Dearborn’s history and reflects a monumental shift in the city’s role within southeast Michigan — now led by a proven leader who unflinchingly takes on the tough challenges,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Abdullah will unite Dearborn around upgrading its water infrastructure to stop constant flooding, holding polluters accountable for dirtying the city’s air, and beginning to invest in clean, renewable energy.”

How Hammoud framed the race in his victory speech (Associated Press):

To the young girls and boys who have ever been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity. To those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome and to our parents and to our elders and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet still persistent, today is proof that you are as American as anyone else and there is a new era in Dearborn.”

See our previous election memo for details on Michigan LCV PAC’s investment in the race.


Other races across the country

Conservation Voters for Idaho endorsed candidates won 12 races across the state including two seats on the Boise City Council. These are key races to help build new clean energy projects, healthy, sustainable communities, and protect Idaho’s outdoor heritage for future generations. They also saw overwhelming support for the Boise Water Bond giving the city the flexibility to pursue thoughtful water policy such as reuse and aquifer recharge, spreads the costs fairly across all users of the system and will be a major win to address the state’s drought and water crisis.

See full results and our state affiliate’s investment in the race here.

Conservation candidates win 19 of 21 races across city elections. This includes Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena who all elected Mayors committed to addressing climate change and leading protection of open space in their communities. Whitefish, Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Livingston, and Billings all protected or expanded the conservation majorities on their municipal councils and commissions. 

Montana Conservation Voters released the following statement from Executive Director Whitney Tawney:

“On behalf of Montana Conservation Voters, we congratulate the incoming pro-conservation mayors, city commissioners and city council members on their important victories. Montanans showed up to the polls yesterday and prioritized supporting leaders who will fight for our clean air, our clean water and our public lands. We’ve got a lot of work to do but are excited to roll up our sleeves and work together to protect Montana as the Last Best Place.” 

You can see full results and MCV PAC investment in Montana races here.