4/7/15, "Tom Steyer launches effort to keep climate deniers out of office," Grist, Kate Sheppard
"This story was originally published by Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration."
"Tom Steyer’s climate-focused political group is already gearing up
for the 2016 presidential race, announcing on Monday a new effort that
will focus on putting Republican candidates on the defense when it comes
to global warming.
NextGen Climate’s chief strategist, Chris Lehane, said in a call with
reporters that the group’s mission heading into 2016 is to “disqualify”
candidates who deny that climate change is real or caused by human
activity by proving that, “They don’t have what it takes to be
president.” The effort will be called Hot Seat,
and NextGen Climate says it will involve media and on-the-ground
campaigns in key electoral states aimed at linking Republican deniers to
the Koch brothers and other interests that seek to undermine climate
The idea, NextGen says, is to force Republican candidates who are
skeptical of climate change to defend their views right out of the gate.
“If you’re in a position that is different from 97 percent of
scientists, that does raise basic competency questions in terms of
whether people are going to want to give you the keys to the White
House,” said Lehane.
Their first target, Lehane said, is Rand Paul, who is expected to
announce his candidacy Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky. The group is
planning to hit Paul with a stunt involving a “lie detector test” to
force him to go on the record about his views on climate change, and
will also follow the candidate to Iowa. Paul has previously questioned the consensus view among scientists that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the climate, but has also tried to moderate his stance somewhat in recent months.
The group intends to portray Republican candidates who deny climate
change as being subservient to the will of major donors like the Koch
brothers, the conservative fossil-fuel billionaires. “[The Kochs] have
acquired the Republican Party and purposed it,” said Lehane. “Now they
have these various Republican candidates saying they don’t believe in
Through his NextGen Climate project, billionaire investor Steyer spent more than $74 million
trying to make climate change a central issue in the 2014 midterm
election. The group’s effort had decidedly mixed results: Of the seven
races it targeted, NextGen’s endorsed candidates won in only three. But
the group has maintained that 2014 was a success, since Republican
candidates were forced to go on the record about their views on climate
“Climate really is playing a significant role in the national
election and in battleground states,” said Lehane. He noted that 2014
was the “first time that climate had really been elevated to that level
in the election, where folks who believe the science were able to use it
offensively, and deniers were on defense.”
In 2014, NextGen’s efforts included major television and online ad buys, as well as in-state spectacles
such as following Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown’s campaign
around New Hampshire in a truck loaded with oil barrels and rolling a
replica of Noah’s Ark into Florida to confront Republican Gov. Rick
The group thinks that 2016 will be an even bigger year for climate,
given the higher turnouts in presidential election years and the role
young voters will play in the debate. Polls have found that 80 percent of voters under the age of 35
support the actions the Obama administration has taken to address
climate change, and even 52 percent of young Republican voters said they
were more inclined to back a candidate who supported those climate
Lehane was coy about how much Steyer intends to spend this time
around, stating only that “he’s made pretty clear he will spend what it
takes.” It was strongly implied that the dollar figure would be higher
than it was in 2014, as the group believes that 2016 is “the defining
election of our time.”
Hot Seat will include an “aggressive, state-of-the-art social media”
element as well as “highly targeted” radio, television, and online
advertising, Lehane said. The group also plans to have a strong presence
on college campuses and to engage in targeted outreach to young voters.
The effort will be run from a “high-tech war room” in San Francisco.
NextGen is already planning to follow Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin and a potential 2016 candidate, as he travels to Europe later this month.
Lehane didn’t elaborate on the group’s intentions for Walker’s trip,
but said, “I can at the minimum guarantee it will be highly
Images above from NextGen Climate. Top, "Hot Seat" mobile billboard in snowy New Hampshire, above, "Hot Seat" billboard in Des Moines, Iowa.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer seeks to influence GOP primaries by placing global warming billboard for his group Hot Seat next to snow bank in New Hampshire. Steyer group will spew excess CO2 by following Scott Walker to Europe in April to attack his views about excess CO2 that only exists in China
Posted by susan at 10:06 PM