Washington, DC: One week after election day, full results show that voters across the country showed up for environmental candidates and rejected big oil’s cynical attacks. Together, the League of Conservation Voters and our state affiliates invested $7 million into the most important state and local races that were critical to building a clean energy future.
Our state league partners invested in over 220 races around the country and 72% of the candidates they supported won. This includes investments in everything from city council races, to securing pro-environment majorities in the legislatures in Virginia and New Jersey.
In Virginia, Governor Youngkin raised more money than any governor previously and boasted he would establish a Republican trifecta. Despite a wave of attacks, including a late attempt to weaponize electric vehicles, climate champions held the state Senate and flipped the House of Delegates, ensuring a new conservation majority and a backstop against the Governor’s extreme anti-science, anti-climate agenda. Our state affiliate, VALCV-PAC, was a key part of this decisive win, spending over $2.2M across their programs which included paid field and media across critical battleground districts. Between VALCV-PAC, LCV, and GiveGreen, we invested approximately $2.74M in Virginia in 2023.
In New Jersey, fossil fuel companies have for months funded astroturf organizations to undermine support for offshore wind. Despite this avalanche of anti-wind spending, clean energy candidates won across the state returning an expanded Democratic trifecta to Trenton. Through their independent expenditure work, NJ LCV invested over $300,000, running mail and digital programs in key races. NJ LCV hopes to put the larger pro-climate majorities to use immediately by passing their 100% clean energy bill by the end of this year.
In the critical Pennsylvania State Supreme Court race, Democrat Dan McCaffery comfortably defeated Republican Carolyn Carluccio after a nearly eight figure race. McCaffery’s win could go a long way toward protecting democracy from outside attacks and ensuring critical climate action programs, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, get a fair hearing. This was our state affiliate Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania’s largest ever off-year and judicial expenditure spending $350,000.
In Boise, Mayor Lauren McLean earned 55% of the vote over three opposing candidates, a clear rebuke on anti-climate rhetoric as Mayor McLean’s well-funded opponent vowed to roll back her climate policies. Our state affiliate, Conservation Voters for Idaho Action Fund, ran an unprecedented $518,000 campaign engaging hundreds of thousands of Boise voters. See CVI’s full recap here.
In Tucson, incumbent Mayor Regina Romero won with over 60% of the vote. In her first term, Mayor Romero helped Tucson become a conservation leader in the Southwest by tackling water contamination and reducing the city’s consumption from the Colorado River and Lake Mead. Our state partner, Chispa Arizona PAC, ran a $35,000 paid media program including radio and digital ads in support of Romero.
Across Colorado this fall, Conservation Colorado Victory Fund continued its investment in climate leadership at the municipal level. The spent $220,000 supporting twenty-one city council candidates and focused their program in four municipalities that are on the forefront of environmental justice, transitioning away from coal, and fighting encroaching oil and gas development. Half of their endorsed candidates were Black, Indigenous, Latine, or other people of color.
Wins in Colorado included maintaining Commerce City’s pro-conservation majority, supporting a new progressive majority on Thornton City Council by electing Justin Martinez and Roberta Ayala to the Thornton City Council, re-electing Alison Coombs as an At-Large Councilor in Aurora and moving incumbent Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar to the run-off.
In three key Ohio municipalities, Conservation Ohio ran GOTV programming through a targeted direct mail campaign with a major impact on our environmental future. In Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, Conservation Ohio helped flip the Council from Republican to Democratic control for the first time in recent history, securing a major win for renewable energy aggregation and water protections. Conservation Ohio also successfully defended climate champions in Cincinnati and Dayton, who won re-election on a strong platform of reducing carbon emissions through aggressive climate action.
This past spring the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund IE PAC ran a mail and digital program in support of then-candidate Dominick Pangallo during the special election for Mayor. After becoming Mayor, he joined the Climate Mayors and visited the first commercial scale offshore wind turbines being built off the coast. He is currently shepherding the redevelopment process of a major port in Salem to ensure it becomes a hub for offshore wind.
In April, The Alaska Center helped elect five assembly members – Chris Constant (D1), Anna Brawley (D3), Felix Rivera (D4), Karen Bronga (D5), and George Martinez (D5) – to continue the work to steward clean air and water, healthy communities, and a strong democracy in Anchorage. All these candidates won by at least 8%, with none winning by less than 900 votes. This decisive victory for progressive candidates is a testament to the work organizers and community leaders have invested in pushing forward responsible public servants for Anchorage.
They also helped win key races in Fairbanks in October, flipping enough seats to secure progressive super-majorities on both the School Board and the Assembly.
Conservation Ohio supported then-councilmember and strong climate champion Shammas Malik in his bid earlier this year to become the first Muslim Mayor of Akron, Ohio – a historical epicenter of environmental injustice that is moving toward a just future for all Ohioans. Mayor-Elect Malik ran on a comprehensive environmental platform and has already announced the creation of a cabinet-level position focused on environmental sustainability. Conservation Ohio invested nearly $60,000 in their digital, direct mail, and radio electoral programs, propelling Malik to a resounding victory with a mandate for climate action.
OH August Ballot Initiative
Over the summer, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) family of organizations worked alongside partner groups to encourage voters to vote down an extreme constitutional amendment that would have effectively ended citizen-initiated petitions and direct democracy in Ohio. OEC ran a volunteer relational organizing program in Central Ohio to drive turnout for the Special August election, contacting over 2,600 Ohioans in the week leading to the election. Ohioans showed up and rejected this attack on democracy. Since then, Ohio voters have utilized their voices and power through ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana and to codify abortion rights in the state constitution. In 2024, Ohioans will seek to put redistricting reform on the ballot.
In elections last May, Nebraska Conservation Voters helped to keep the City of Lincoln and Lincoln Electric System (LES) on the path toward decarbonization and strong action on climate change. Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird was re-elected and supported by a pro-environment supermajority on the Lincoln City Council. These victories matter because as the Capital City and Nebraska’s second largest metropolitan area, Lincoln is a trailblazer for the state.
Since Mayor Baird was elected in 2019, the City of Lincoln passed the first Climate Action Plan in the state of Nebraska, setting the stage for the state legislature to fund a statewide climate action plan through the budget process in 2022. Mayor Baird has appointed seven new members to the nine-member LES Board, which is responsible for determining how the City of Lincoln generates its electricity. In 2021, the LES Board set one of the most ambitious decarbonization goals for an electric utility in the entire country: net-zero by 2040.
WI Supreme Court and Municipal Races
Wisconsin Conservation Voters IEC invested more than $1.5 million in elections this spring, helping to elect Judge Janet Protasieiwcz to the Supreme Court and re-elect Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, in addition to supporting local elections all across the state, from Mount Pleasant to Sheboygan to the Town of Peshtigo. As part of their efforts, they knocked on nearly 150,000 doors, sent 10,00 handwritten postcards, in addition to phone calls, texting and mail programs.