Politics & Policy

Winning Dirty

Each year, the League of Conservation Voters compiles its “Dirty Dozen” list of congressional candidates “who consistently vote against clean energy and conservation and are running in races in which LCV has a serious chance to affect the outcome.” The group boasts that since 1996 more than 60 percent of “dirty” candidates have been defeated. Well, that average is about to take a hit.

This year’s list included candidates who not only do not support legislation like cap-and-trade, but have expressed significant skepticism over the science behind the case for man-cause global warming, science that the LCV not doubt insists is “settled.” So far, one of them, former Rep. Richard Pombo (R., Calif.) has already lost in a Republican primary. Sen. Blanch Lincoln (D., Ark.) is all but assured a loss, and Christine O’Donnell is a long shot. But the remaining nine candidates are all in a position to win. Overall, 2010 will no doubt constituent a huge defeat for the LCV. Here’s a rundown of the list (in order of appearance):

1. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.) — The only Democrat on the list, Lincoln backtracked from her initial support of climate legislation when it became clear that she was going to have a tough time getting re-elected this cycle. She fended off a challenge from the left in the Democratic primary, and made the list because the LCV backed her opponent, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D). Lincoln is certain to lose to Republican Rep. John Boozman, so the LCV can claim this as a technical “win,” but given that Boozman voted against cap-and-trade and supports drilling in parts of ANWR, they probably aren’t too happy about it.

2. Steve Pearce (GOP House candidate, NM-02)Pearce, a former Representative, earned an LCV rating of three percent during his five years in Congress. He also has a 76 percent chance of winning this year, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

3. Richard Pombo (GOP primary candidate, CA-19) — Lost in the Republican primary, to state Sen. Jeff Denham, who opposes cap-and-trade and has signed a “No Climate Tax Pledge.” FiveThirtyEight gives Denham a 99.97 percent chance of winning.

4. Rep. Roy Blunt (GOP Senate candidate, Mo.) — Voted against cap-and-trade, and denies the “settled science” argument for man-cause climate change. “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth,” Blunt said. He is 99 percent likely to beat Democrat Robin Carnahan in the race for outgoing Sen. Kit Bond’s seat, according to FiveThirtyEight.

5. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., MN-06) – A vehement global warming skeptic hated by the left, Bachmann will cruise to re-election this year.

6. Pat Toomey (GOP Senate candidate, Pa.) — Toomey was lambasted on the left for saying that while there is evidence for global warming, “The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated.” He has a 4-5 point lead heading into Election Day, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

7. Carly Fiorina (GOP Senate candidate, Calif.) — Fiorina was the “People’s Choice” for the inclusion on the list, receiving 36 percent in an online poll. She was derided by liberals for mocking her opponent Sen. Barbara Boxer’s statement that climate change was a national security issue. Fiorina is currently behind in the polls, but the race is still a “toss up.” Even if Fiorina loses, the fact that the race is this close in a state known for its hyper-environmentalism ought to put a damper on any LCV victory party.

8. Tim Walberg (GOP House candidate, MI-07) — Walberg, a former Representaive, made the list in 2008 and earned a zero percent LCV rating for his time in office for opposing “every major clean energy reform in Congress.” FiveThirtyEight gives him a 59 percent chance of winning the seat, though a recent poll had Walberg leading Rep. Mark Shauer (D) 49 to 36 percent.

9. Sharron Angle (GOP Senate candidate, Nev.) — Angle described cap-and-trade legislation as being “based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax.” She continues to lead Sen. Harry Reid (D) in the polls and is widely expected to win a close race.

10. Ken Buck (GOP Senate candidate, Colo.) — Buck drew liberals’ ire when he indicated that he supports the view that “global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated.” He is leading in the polls and many are predicting a Republican win in this race.

11. Ron Johnson (GOP Senate candidate, Wis.) — Johnson said “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven,” and that “sunspot activity” could be a possible explanation. This naturally drew heavy criticism and outrage from the left, but Johnson’s popularity has only grown since he made those statements. He is almost universally expected to unseat Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

12. Christine O’Donnell (GOP Senate candidate, Del.) – OK, this selection just seems like a last ditch effort to boost the LCV’s batting average. Chances are that O’Donnell won’t win (though the race does appear to be tightening), but perhaps more significant is the fact that the incumbent O’Donnell beat in the GOP primary, Rep. Mike Castle (R) was the only Republican to vote for cap-and-trade legislation. Wonder if he regrets that vote.

Here is a video the LCV made, featuring most of the candidates on this list, urging viewers to denounce “flat-earthers” and “vote for truth.” Unfortunately for the LCV and many liberal Democrats, the real truth of the matter is that in a struggling economy with almost 10 percent unemployment, voters aren’t so keen on new taxes in the name of “settled science.” Indeed, a lot of Democrats who voted for cap-and-trade will soon join the ranks of unemployed.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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