There are few key House races we here at Gristmill will be keeping an eye on tonight, races where the environment has been a big issue in the run up to today’s elections. We’re looking for feedback from you on others where environmental issues will be a factor in tonight’s results.
The first and most obvious is California’s 11th district where voters are choosing between incumbent eco-foe Richard Pombo (R) and Jerry McNerney (D). Enviro groups like the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, and the League of Conservation Voters have put roughly $3 million behind defeating Pombo. Polls put the two neck and neck going into today’s showdown.
Also on the enviro-radar is Nevada’s 3rd district race, where Republican Jon Porter is defending his seat against Democrat Tessa Hafen, Harry Reid’s press secretary and a pro-environment newcomer who has been a vocal opponent of bringing nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. Porter, on the other hand, has earned just a 10 percent lifetime voting average from LCV.
In New Mexico’s 1st district, we’re watching state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D) challenge incumbent Heather Wilson (R). Madrid has made energy independence a key issue in her campaign and taken on the EPA for not enforcing anti-pollution laws, while Wilson has consistently voted against the environment.
LCV Dirty Dozen denizen Charles Taylor (R) is defending his seat in North Carolina’s 11th district. Taylor is a fan of logging, opponent of climate-change research funding, and a fuel-efficiency thwarter, and his defeat would send ripples of pleasure through environmental circles. According to the Sierra Club, a win by Democratic challenger Heath Shuler, a fan of renewable energy, “would be the first ‘giant killer’ victory of the night for environmentalists.”
In Ohio’s 15th district, Deborah Pryce (R), another Dirty Dozen rep. who has supported Arctic Refuge drilling and weakening the Endangered Species Act, is fighting off challenger Mary Jo Kilroy (D). A Sierra Club member and county commissioner, Kilroy has supported biofuels and land conservation, making her a darling for the environmental cause.
Voters in several districts are choosing between two candidates who have solid environmental cred. In Connecticut’s 4th Congressional district, both Chris Shays (R) and Diane Farrell (D) have gotten high marks from environmental advocates. The same is true in the state’s 5th district, where 12-term incumbent and tried-and-true green Republican Nancy Johnson faces off against Democrat Chris Murphy.
In Pennsylvania’s 6th district, both Jim Gerlach, the Republican incumbent who sponsored the recently passed farmland and open-space legislation, and pro-environment-lawyer-mom Lois Murphy, a Democrat, have earned green cred.
The 8th district of Pennsylvania is another race where the environment wins either way. Incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R) is an energy independence advocate, and Patrick Murphy (D) is an Iraq War vet who’s also prioritized alternative energy and other environmental concerns.
And in New Hampshire’s 2nd district, Republican incumbent Charles Bass and Paul Hodes (D) have both been praised for their stance on eco-issues.
And in a particularly interesting New York House race, voters in the 19th district get to choose between Democrat John Hall, who received the Sierra Club endorsement, and incumbent Republican Sue Kelly, endorsed by LCV.
What other House races should we be on the lookout for?