Sierra Club Leaping into Political Ring?
Latest buzz on the streets of San Francisco is the nascent mayoral candidacy of enviro wunderkind Adam Werbach, who at the ripe old age of 26 is already an ex-president of the Sierra Club.
We tracked Werbach down at the production company he runs in the Bay Area to find out if he is serious about taking on Democratic legend Willie Brown, whose job approval ratings of late are deep in the cellar.
Werbach, who says he won’t make a final decision for another couple of weeks, certainly sounded like a candidate as he ticked off the reasons why his campaign, which would be a sideshow act in most places, could be viable in San Francisco.
“People actually vote against their short-term self interest for the long-term good,” Werbach said of the San Francisco electorate, at least 10 percent of which he described as “deeply green” voters who cast their votes almost exclusively on candidates’ environmental stands.
“The major issues are public transportation, housing development, and clean government, which are all things that fall very much into an environmental agenda,” Werbach said.
As for Brown, Werbach admits there is no question the wily veteran will get enough votes to force a runoff. But in a one-on-one race, Werbach thinks Brown could be beatable if his opponent hammers home the case that the mayor has done nothing but “put window dressing on the problems of San Francisco.”
Other enviro political activists say Werbach should not be discounted, particularly in a race which features a voluntary spending cap of $600,000, making the financial playing field a bit more even.
Of course, one Democrat already in the race, political consultant Clint Reilly, plans to ignore the limits and spend a couple million. But Reilly, like Brown, is not exactly loved by all San Francisco. Other potential candidates include Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano and former GOP mayor Frank Jordan.
In 1994, House Republicans, freshly empowered and eager to shake things loose after 40 years of Democratic rule, passed legislation limiting committee chairs to three consecutive two-year terms. Next fall, when the clock runs out on the 106th Congress, time will also expire for GOP committee chairs who first wrapped their fingers around a gavel in 1994. That means it’s time for Washington’s favorite parlor game: naked attempts to cling to power while crushing your adversaries (fun for the whole family!).
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has made it clear he has little interest in going back on committee chair limits, knowing it would essentially gift wrap an issue for Democrats. If he can’t hold his slim six-seat majority in the House next year, he won’t have any committee chairs to worry about in the first place.
Nonetheless, there is nothing in the House rules stopping current chairs from trading in one committee gavel for another, even if it means stepping on the toes of other Republicans patiently waiting in line for their shot.
We had thought that House Resources Committee Chair Don Young (R-Alaska) would take that route, simply trading his current position for the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the powerful pork factory currently ruled by Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.). Young wouldn’t even have to leap over anyone since he’s currently vice chair of Transportation.
Some sources, however, said they thought Young might be contemplating retirement instead of giving up the Resources post. Not so fast, says Young spokesperson Greg Thom, who pointed out that Young has already given the word to Alaska papers that he will, in fact, seek a fifteenth term next fall.
So who will take over at the Resources Committee for Young, who has been a top target for enviro activists? The next in line is Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), but Tauzin is also in line to take over the Commerce Committee and word on the Hill is that’s exactly where he is headed. Which means Resources would go to Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Utah), who has not exactly been an enviro fave as leader of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands.
Two weeks ago, we pondered the possibility of a Florida Senate candidacy by EPA Administrator Carol Browner, noting that Browner had done nothing to damp down rumors that she might seek the seat being vacated by Republican Connie Mack.
Browner has now spoken out and, as we suspected, she is serious about running despite some uneasiness among Florida Dems who think they have an easy win on their hands without Browner coming in and nationalizing the race.
Browner told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel: “I am definitely looking at it. … I’ve always wanted to come back home, and maybe this will be an opportunity. Whether it’s the right opportunity at the right moment is something I haven’t decided.”
Which is code for: “I’m running unless it looks like I’ll lose.”
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) talked up Browner’s candidacy in the Sun-Sentinel story, indicating that the national party is getting behind a Browner bid in a major way. Whether the Florida party will stand in the way is an open question.
What’s in a Name?
Regular readers will notice we have dropped our original moniker, “The Grind,” and adopted the nom de plume “Muckraker.” Why? Because we can. And we think Muckraker connotes, in an old-school sort of way, what we hope to do in this space: Dig up the real dirt on what’s happening in enviro circles and bring it to you in a readable, buzzworthy kind of way. Do we smell as sweet with our new name? We think so. And the ground rules remain the same: You bring us the juice; we put your name in bold; everybody wins!
Get Grist in your inbox