Despite Fracking Ban Setback, Steyer Eyes Nevada In 2018 Midterm
California billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged to spend more than $7.5 million in voter registration and youth turnout in eight states, including Nevada, in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, according to Politico.
Steyer’s efforts to support candidates in 2016 in the Battle Born state included $70,000 in donations to five Nevada legislative candidates, including $10,000 to the sponsor of a bill to ban fracking, a March Western Wire story revealed. Steyer has supported a fracking ban in recent years in his home state.
Assemblyman Justin Watkins (D-Las Vegas) was unable to find traction for his bill, AB 159, in the Nevada state Senate, where it died before the end of the session on June 5, as reported by Western Wire.
A fracking ban won’t be up for consideration until the next legislative session in 2019.
Had Assembly Bill 159 passed, Nevada would have been the fourth state to ban fracking and the first in the West. Maryland, New York, and Vermont have banned the drilling technique.
Outside Nevada, Steyer’s NextGen Climate group identified California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin as organizational priorities for turning out young voters.
“It’s our goal to engage them, inform them and, you know, in traditional American ways of grass-roots organizing, get them involved in the system so their voices and votes can be counted,” Steyer told Politico.
NextGen plans a presence on more than 200 college campuses in the eight states. In his interview with Politico, Steyer and his spokesman remained tight-lipped about any possible direct political ambitions the climate activist might have in his home state of California.
“I feel I have more time to make the decision,” Steyer said.
Steyer’s 2016 investment in Nevada was part of $88 million the billionaire spent on Democrats overall, according to the Washington Times, making him the leading individual donor for the second consecutive election cycle going back to 2014.
According to the Times, Steyer’s NextGen declined to endorse candidates who did not adhere to the group’s climate goals including Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, who supported the KeystoneXL pipeline.
“The millennial vote may be decisive — and millennials are voting for Clinton because of climate change,” NextGen strategic adviser Jamison Foser said in a November memo before the 2016 election.
Steyer claimed NextGen’s 2016 efforts on youth voter mobilization resulted in a 20 percent increase in targeted areas, but analysis from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tufts University showed a modest one percent increase from 49 percent in 2012 to 50 percent in 2016, the Times reported.