Action Alert: Stop the Sierra Club from Endorsing an (R)
by Matthew Gertz, Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 08:05:12 AM EDT
Reps. Rob Simmons (R-CT 02), Chris Shays (R-CT 04) and Nancy Johnson (R-CT 05) have all won their Dem-leaning seats by chipping off parts of the Dem coalition. But given the poor national environment for GOPers, their Dem challengers looked well-positioned to knock them off this cycle.
-- Yet the GOP incumbents have still managed to secure endorsements from liberal interest groups. Planned Parenthood endorsed both Simmons and Johnson. The League of Conservation Voters is backing Shays and Johnson.
-- And labor is trending towards the CT GOPers. Simmons only raised $8K from labor PACs in his '02 run against Joe Courtney (D). In this year's rematch he's already raised $96K, outdistancing Courtney. And so far, Shays has raised comparable amounts from unions as his Dem opponent Diane Farrell.
That's why we lose as a movement.
In 2004, the Sierra Club endorsed Chris Shays for re-election in Connecticut's Fourth Congressional District. They did so despite the presence on the ballot of a credible Democratic challenger with a long record of support for environmental causes, Diane Farrell. Over her eight years as First Selectwoman of Westport, Diane:
* Was awarded the 2004 Woodlands Coalition Environmental Gold Award
- Worked to acquire 73 acres of public land for Westport.
- Worked actively with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and many local and state officials as an advocate for the Kelda (Bridgeport Hydraulic Co.) land purchase, resulting in the protection of 15,000 acres in our region.
- As Chair of the federally mandated South Western Regional Planning Agency's Metropolitan Planning Organization, helped to broaden the organization's scope to include issues concerning the environment, especially matters of development, power lines, land use planning and preservation of open space.
- Took a vigilant stand against the siting of cell towers in residential areas.
- Established a Land Acquisition Committee to actively investigate the purchase of additional available land for public preservation use.
- Helped to make Westport the first town in Connecticut to purchase "green energy credits," which enable the municipality to receive electricity from clean energy sources.
Diane lost the 2004 election by a 52-48 margin. While it would be unfair to blame her defeat on the efforts of liberal interest groups like the Sierra Club, they certainly gave Chris Shays cover that helped him maintain his "moderate" image.
The Sierra Club endorsed Shays for the same reasons that most liberal interest groups occasionally endorse on the other side of the aisle. They want to maintain their reputation for bipartisanship, and placate their Republican donors and board members. And in his defense, Chris Shays' record isn't that bad on the environment: he's one of the most environmentally conscious Republicans. On the other hand, according to the LCV, 152 Democrats have a record that is as good or better. And, of course, Shays supports for a Republican leadership that views environmental groups and issues with contempt, and has consistently acted in support of Big Oil and Big Business.
Since then, we have seen the Republican Party, kept in power by "moderates" like Chris Shays, continue their assault on the environment. Here's what the League of Conservation voters has to say about the 2006 budget:
* $450 million cut from the Environmental Protection Agency's budget (6% of the agency's total budget), including $300 million slashed from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which is used to improve sewage treatment plants.
* The President's budget fails to reinstate the Superfund fee, continuing the shift of clean up from corporate polluters to local taxpayers.
* The Administration's budget eliminates the Stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program altogether. Over the past forty years, this grant has provided desperately needed funding to help preserve open space and develop recreational facilities for state and local parks.
* Despite touting its commitment to a new ocean management policy, the Administration cut $350 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's (NOAA) ocean related budget that is essential to protecting and repairing our oceans.
* Even though the Administration's budget increases funding for the National Park maintenance backlog by $29 million to $717 million, President Bush is still far from woefully short of his 2000 campaign pledge to get rid of the backlog. The President has fallen $4 billion short of his $5 billion pledge while the Director of the National Parks Service testified last year that the backlog is actually closer to $6 billion.
* The Administration's budget cuts endangered species programs by $3 million, eliminating some important programs designed to prevent endangered species from becoming extinct.
* The President's budget cuts over $267 million from the Hanford nuclear waste disposal program in Washington State.
* The president's budget includes a fiscally irresponsible estimate of $2.4 billion in revenue from oil leasing fees in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Historic averages of oil leases on the North Slope makes these estimates wildly speculative. Using the budget process is an underhanded and back door attempt to drill in the Arctic.
Diane Farrell is running again to defeat Chris Shays. She recently shattered the fundraising recordfor a single quarter, raising almost $800,000 and beating Shays in the money race for the third time out of the last four quarters. She is one of our best pickup opportunities in the country, and one that the pundits agree that we need to take back Congress this fall.
Energy and the environment are front and center in this campaign; Diane held a sold-out screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" last month, and she has said that she would support the New Apollo Energy Act, the single most comprehensive clean energy legislation currently before Congress, if elected. Needless to say, that's a bill that will never make it to the floor of a Republican-controlled Congress.
But it's time for the Sierra Club to endorse in this race, and given the precedent that the League of Conservation Voters has set, there's no guarantee that they will back the candidate whose election will truly help to defend the environment.
Here's the letter that Diane is sending the board of the Sierra Club, asking for their support. You may recognize some of the arguments; they're right out of Crashing the Gate.
I write to ask for your support in my race for Congress, and in my quest to help Democrats re-take the majority in the US House of Representatives.
I don't think I have to tell you just how damaging this Congressional Republican Majority - of which my opponent is a loyal member - has been to the issues you and I care about as friends of the environment.
I could, literally, write you a 50-page letter laying out in detail the misguided actions President Bush and the Republican Congress have taken in the past few years in their almost single-minded attempt to dismantle environmental protections we've fought so hard for over the years. And that 50-page letter might not even be long enough.
Yes, it's been that bad.
And while my opponent says that his record isn't as bad, here's the problem: he's part of an environmentally destructive Republican Majority that simply has to be stopped. Now. And, to be clear, my opponent has increasingly supported the agenda of the Bush Administration and Republican Majority - an agenda that has rolled back laws aimed at reducing the smog that causes asthma and the mercury levels that put pregnant mothers at risk. They've also pursued policies that force local taxpayers to foot the bill when corporate polluters make a mess. Finally, despite the record profits of Big Oil and the explosion in gas prices, my opponent has taken $10,000 in campaign contributions from Exxon alone.
As my race has heated up and become more competitive, more and more of the Washington establishment is saying the same thing: Democrats cannot re-take the House unless I win.
That, in a nutshell, is why this is so important.
While you know just how destructive this Republican Majority has been, what you might not know is that I've spent many, many years fighting the same fights you've fought...on your side.
During my time as First Selectwoman of Westport, I made environmental protection and open space preservation a top priority. I worked to acquire 73 acres of public land for Westport, and I worked closely with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and many local and state officials as an advocate for the Kelda (Bridgeport Hydraulic Co.) land purchase, resulting in the protection of 15,000 acres in our region. As Chair of the federally mandated South Western Regional Planning Agency's Metropolitan Planning Organization, I helped to broaden the organization's scope to include issues concerning the environment, especially matters of development, power lines, land use planning and preservation of open space. And I took a vigilant stand against the siting of cell towers in residential areas.
As your Congresswoman, I will be a strong and effective advocate for the environment. I will use my experience in Connecticut to advocate for more open space preservation and protection of national parks and forests. I fervently oppose the Bush administration's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and I will vote against any legislation that would allow for drilling in ANWR.
We consume 9.4 million barrels of oil per day from the Middle East which not only burdens our middle class families as oil costs continue to rise, but puts our national security at risk. I will support a plan to put America on the path towards energy independence. I will support investment in new technologies and alternative fuels to increase energy conservation and create clean, renewable sources of energy. I will support the development of new technology and production methods needed to ensure that resources such as coal and natural gas are used more efficiently and cleanly. I will support the creation of tax incentives that help automakers produce more fuel-efficient cars. We must end dependence on Middle East oil in order to strengthen our national security while growing our economy and protecting our environment.
I firmly believe that our health, the stability of our economy, and our quality of life depend on good environmental stewardship. Our air and water, the preservation of open space and environmentally sensitive areas, and the diversity of fish and wildlife are vital to the well-being of our communities.
To learn more about my record, and my vision, for a cleaner, healthier, well-protected environment, please log onto: www.farrellforcongress.com
I would sum up my environmental philosophy in the following way: our health, the stability of our economy, and our quality of life depend on good environmental stewardship. Our air and water, the preservation of open space and environmentally sensitive areas, and the diversity of fish and wildlife are vital to the well-being of our communities.
Perhaps most important, it is our moral obligation to pass on to the next generation a set of laws, regulations, and policies that allow them - and future generations - to benefit from a clean, healthy, well-protected environment.
I know this is a long letter, and if you've made it this far, I really do appreciate your taking the time to read it.
Please - I need your help. Help me get elected to Congress, and once I get there, please help me work to protect all that is near and dear to our hearts.
Candidate for Congress, 4th CD Connecticut
If you believe the lessons of Crashing the Gate, and agree that liberal interest groups like the Sierra Club should be endorsing candidates that support a Democratic majority, here's your chance to act.
Below are the email addresses of the people who will be making the decision in this race, and the phone number of the Sierra Club's Connecticut office. If we bombard them with calls and emails to support Diane Farrell, we may be able to sway their decision.
John Blake firstname.lastname@example.org
John Calandrelli email@example.com
Wende Harper firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Goldin email@example.com
Carl Pope firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, give a few minutes of your time and help to elect a Democratic candidate to Congress and build the progressive movement.
Farrell for Congress