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November 09, 2012

Sierra Club Helps Elect Dozens of New Clean Energy Champions with Historic Campaign Efforts

Club for obama

Sierra Club Volunteers, Staff, Executive Director Michael Brune and President Allison Chin (Photo: Sean Sarah)

This election, Big Oil and Coal executives spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to smear clean energy and defeat any candidate who stood in the way of their reckless agenda. And all over the country, in race after race, they failed.

The Sierra Club has never matched the dirty energy industry dollar for dollar. They’ve always outspent us -- a single big oil company gets more cash in unfair tax subsidies every year than we have in our entire budget. But we have one thing they’ll never have -- our people. The Sierra Club’s Victory Corps program deployed 63 of our staffers to more than 53 federal races across the country, recruiting thousands of our members to volunteer to knock on tens of thousands of doors and make tens of thousands of phone calls on behalf of the clean-energy candidates standing up to big polluters.

Warren Rally
Victory Corps at the Elizabeth Warren for Senate Victory Party (Photo: Drew Grande)

And it worked. In race after race, the candidates who spoke out for a clean-energy future and solutions to our climate crisis beat back the deep-pocketed attacks from big polluters. Not only did we help re-elect President Obama to continue his work building a clean energy future but we also will send dozens of new environmental champions to join that effort in Congress.

The work of our Victory Corps organizers helped net 34 victories nationwide -- and we’re hopeful for more as we wait for a few close races to be decided. Here are a few highlights:

  • Victory Corps is moving us toward a greener Senate with wins in 11 Senate races, including Elizabeth Warren’s victory in Massachusetts, Chris Murphy in Connecticut, and Tim Kaine in Virginia.
  •  Victory Corps organizers worked on the races of 16 new, incoming members of Congress, including Suzan Delbene in Washington, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Julia Brownley and Mark Takano in California, and Steve Horsford in Nevada.

Chris muprhy

Victory Corps Volunteers with Connecticut's new Senator-elect Chris Murphy (Photo: Brenna Muller)

You’ll read a lot of stories about how money influences politics, but the Sierra Club proves people matter. A friend or a neighbor talking to a voter about the issues they care about is a lot more important than an attack ad squeezed in between a dozen other attack ads in the middle of a football game. The Sierra Club mobilized our members and supporters to be that personal voice in elections across the country, reaching voters on the ground and online. All told, 12,000+ volunteers worked on races across the country, while more than 325,000 actions were taken online and our online web-voter guide was used more than 350,000 times.  Victory Corps also recruited 329 Sierra Club members to serve as Obama for America team leaders.

Capps and lena

Victory Corps Organizer Lena Moffit and Congresswoman Lois Capps

The Sierra Club also picked a few targets where we knew our message about where the candidates stood on clean air and water would resonate over the airwaves with voters.

In New Mexico’s U.S. Senate race, we ran hard-hitting ads early in the race making it clear that one candidate -- Martin Heinrich -- was a clean energy champion and the other consistently put big polluters first by letting them off the hook for polluting New Mexico’s water. We mobilized Sierra Club members in both the primary and general elections in support of Heinrich. And voters reacted. We saw the polls grow from a neck-and-neck race to a decisive victory for Heinrich, a former Sierra Club Executive Committee Member who will now be a strong voice for clean energy and climate solutions in the Senate.

In Maine’s Senate race, we teamed up with the League of Conservation Voters in support of Angus King, an independent, clean energy entrepreneur who will now take his solid record of protecting our air and water to Washington.

We also launched the “Toxic Money, Toxic Votes” campaign, investing significant resources  highlighting the records of incumbents who have put the dangerous agendas of their big oil, gas, and coal campaign donors ahead of the health of their constituents and their communities. And -- if current results hold -- we will have helped knock off three incumbents and send three new clean-energy champions to Congress, including Cheri Bustos in Illinois, Ami Bera in California, and Pete Gallego, who won an upset victory in the heart of Texas oil country in the face of millions in big polluter opposition.

Mike Brune and Patty Murray

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune with Senator Patty Murray (WA) (Photo: Seth Ballhorn)

As families in the Northeast try to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy and as we prepare for imminent threats of climate disruption, the American people are anxious for their leaders to lead in fighting for solutions to the climate crisis by building a clean-energy economy and keeping toxins out of our air and water. On Tuesday, American voters chose to give President Obama and these new clean energy champions both an opportunity and a challenge of huge proportions to do just that. The Sierra Club is thrilled to have helped ensure this moment is not lost -- and now our members and supporters who knocked on the doors and made the phone calls to get us here are determined to build on our momentum in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

--Trey Pollard, Sierra Club Deputy Press Secretary

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