Green Elephants
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Green Elephants

Prior to yesterday’s vote, Republicans for Environmental Protection had announced its slate of endorsed candidates for U.S. Congress.

‘Each of these candidates is a conservation-minded Republican dedicated to responsible environmental stewardship,’ said REP President Martha Marks. ‘While our party as a whole is not where it should be when it comes to environmental stewardship, electing this slate of Republican candidates would represent a giant stride toward changing that.’

Thought it might be interesting to see how they did in the election. Did being green garner them any turn-out-the-vote support?

Here’s how things shaped up. Incumbents are denoted with an asterisk. Info in [ ]’s is their League of Conservation Voters Environmental Score and whether they featured the environment prominently in their campaign platform based on Google hits and my review of campaign websites. Click the name for their REP endorsement (in .pdf form) if one was available. Other notes are in ( )’s.

U.S. Senate

Senator Cynthia Thielen (HI) [ — / Yes ] LOST, 37% (Strong environmental theme, but up against a long-time Hawaii Democrat.)
Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ) [ — / Yes ] LOST, 37%
Senator Mike DeWine (OH) * [ 71% / No ] LOST, 44% (DeWine’s gone from a 12% LCV rating to a 71% rating in the past three years.)
Senator Lincoln Chafee (RI) * [ 71% / Yes ] LOST, 47% (Historically very green.)

Senator Richard Lugar (IN) * [ 14% / Yes ] WON, 87% (Hasn’t had an LCV above 20% since 2000, which makes you wonder about the REP endorsement.)
Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) * [ 86% / No ] WON, 73% (Greener every day, from an LCV of 56% in 2000 to 86% today.)

U.S House of Representatives

Rep. Nancy Johnson (CT-5th District) * [ — / Yes ] LOST, 44% (Endorsed by the Sierra Club.)
Rep. Jim Leach (IA-2nd District) * [ 42% / Yes ] LOST, 49% (LCV score down from a high of 77% two years ago, but got a Sierra Club endorsement this year)
Rep. Charles Bass (NH-2nd District) * [ 67% / Yes ] LOST, 46% (Couldn’t outrun his support for the war; a mixed record on the environment.)
Raj Peter Bhakta (PA-13th District) [ — / No ] LOST, 34%
Major General Martha Rainville (VT-At Large) [ — / No ] LOST 45%
Rep. Jeb Bradley (NH-1st District) * [ 83% / No ] LOST, 48% (LCV doubled from last year)
Rep. Sue W. Kelly (NY-19th District) [ 92% / Yes ] LOST, 49% (LCV up from 17% last year)
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8th District) * [ 92% / Yes ] LOST, 50%
Rep. Rob Simmons (CT-2nd District) * [ 83% / Yes ] UNDECIDED, 50% (LCV never below 60%)

Rep. Christopher Shays (CT-4th District) * [ 83% / No ] WON, 50% ("Ocean Champion")
Rep. Michael Castle (DE-At Large) * [ 83% / No ] WON, 57%
Rep. Timothy Johnson (IL-15th District) * [ 83% / No ] WON, 58% (LCV up from 50% in 2003. Big ethanol guy, but probably more for agri than eco interests.)
Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-10th District) * [ 75% / Mixed ] WON, 53% (LCV is way up – almost double from last year)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6th District) * [ 58% / Yes ] WON, 58% (The LCV score for Mr. Global Peak Oil himself has been creeping up from a lowly 9% earned in 2000)
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1st District) * [ 67% / No ] WON, 68%
Rep. Vern Ehlers (MI-3rd District) * [ 75% / Yes ] WON, 63%
Rep. Jim Ramstad (MN-3rd District) * [ 83% / No ] WON, 65%
Rep. Michael Ferguson (NJ-7th District) * [ 83% / Yes ] WON, 50% (LCV waaaay up from 17% last year)
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11th District) * [ 67% / Yes ] WON, 62%
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2nd District) * [ 83% / Yes ] WON, 62%
Rep. Jim Saxton (NJ-3rd District) * [ 83% / Yes ] WON, 59%
Rep. Christopher Smith (NJ-4th District) * [ 92% / No] WON, 66%
Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) * [ 67% / No ] WON, 51%
Rep. Bob Inglis (SC-4th District) * [42% / Yes ] WON, 64% (LCV up from 28%)
Rep. Tom Davis (VA-11th District) * [50% / No ] WON, 55%
Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-8th District) * [ 67% / Yes] WON, 51% (LCV up from 28% last year)

Not a very deep analysis here, and the reality is ecology is not yet a bellweather issue for conservatives the way budgets, the war on terror, borders, or pro-life issues are.

But it’s interesting to note that every one of the winning House Republicans had improved their conservation voting record in the year(s) prior to the election. That tells me that they believe ecology resonates with their consituents, or at least among their voters.

Another is guilt by association. I have a hunch that Johnson and Leach didn’t benefit from their Sierra Club endorsements, though getting a Republicans for Environmental Protection endorsement seemed to help others. In other words, conservatives may be more willing to accept the idea of being the "right" kind of green (i.e. pro ecology and pro business, etc) rather than just being green.

Geography plays an important part in this. Senator Snowe’s environmental record in Maine gave her a real edge, where Senator Lugar’s score in the Midwest was probably more to the taste of his public there in Indiana. Didn’t seem to help DeWine at all. Generally, it pays to be a green Republican in Jersey and New England, not to mention Cah-lee-for-nee-ya. Though a New Englander, I think Chafee’s chances were plainly dashed by his reputation as a RINO, not for being a green Republican. Makes me wonder how green conservativism is playing in fly-over country.

Finally, I don’t think advertising one’s appearance of environmental-ness had as much to do with success as congressional voting records. I saw a lot of opponents who used "vote on ANWR" or "voted for polluters" pretty effectively, and how you actually voted carried more weight than green platitudes and sound bites on your web page. Everybody had some little tidbit about environment on their homepage. One would be crazy not to. What was more impressive was the types of legislation supported or voted for.

I would expect groups like REP and LCV that track these things and make them public to become more influencial in the future.

Well, there ya go. Feel free to weigh in. Or, perhaps you’re sick of the whole election season and are ready to move on…

UPDATE: Iain Murry has a different spin on things..

[Don’s other habitat is The Evangelical Ecologist]