For people who don’t want to see coastal cities drown in the coming decades, tonight’s election results were a mixed bag, to say the least. The oil and gas industry’s $70+ million spending bonanza paid off as voters rejected Washington’s carbon tax initiative and Colorado’s anti-fracking measure. Texas elected a climate denier to replace Lamar Smith, the House’s notorious climate denier-in-chief. A country-club Republican beat a populist Democrat in one of the poorest parts of West Virginia with the generous help of the natural gas industry.
But there was a blip of good news.
The Democratic Party’s nascent Green New Deal wing took shape as a series of progressive climate hawks notched historic, if expected, victories — establishing the first group of lawmakers in Congress from either party advocating policies scientists say might actually make a dent in planet-warming emissions.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, handily won New York’s 14th District and will become the youngest woman elected to Congress. Ilhan Omar surged ahead in Minnesota’s 5th District, and Rashida Tlaib, facing no Republican challengers, sailed to victory in Michigan’s 13th District. They became the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress. In the one competitive race of the bunch, Antonio Delgado, 41, overcame Republican Rep. John Faso’s racist smears in New York’s upstate 19th District.
Their victories cement the first contingent of Democrats calling for a radical federal spending plan to rapidly wean the United States off fossil fuels and prepare the nation for climate change that looks increasingly likely to cause cataclysmic damage in the coming years. Dubbed the “Green New Deal,” the vague set of policy proposals hark back to the Depression-era spending programs that built many of the country’s infrastructure landmarks.
Their wins might help temper some stinging losses. You can read my full report here.
The Green New Dealers are ascending in the same election that cost the Republican Party its leading advocate for action on climate change. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo narrowly lost in Florida’s 26th District, Miami suburbs where Hillary Clinton won by double digits in 2016. His ouster raises questions about the future of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, derided as the “climate peacocks” club by folks like Climate Hawks Vote’s RL Miller, who see it as effective only at laundering the reputations of lawmakers who consistently vote against climate policies. You can read my full report on Curbelo’s loss to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell here.
It’s almost 1:30 a.m. here in New York, and I’m still in the HuffPost newsroom, wondering how the hell I’m going to muster the energy to return here tomorrow (today?). But I wanted those of you who got sleep tonight to wake up to something in your inboxes. Because I love you all so dearly. You’re, uh, welcome.
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