Steyer-Backed Environmental Group Doubling Down On State Races In The West
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), backed by California-based billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer, is once again setting their sights on the West for the upcoming midterm election cycle. While the environmentalist group has spent big in the past, a new memo released by LCV’s Senior Vice President for Campaigns, Pete Maysmith, announced the group will spend a record $20 million in state races in 2018, which is double the group’s highest previous campaign expenditure.
Steyer is a major funder of LCV.
Maysmith wrote in the memo that state-level work “is more important than ever as a countervailing force to the Trump administration.” LCV has state affiliates in 24 of the 36 states with gubernatorial elections this cycle.
LCV will be targeting several governor’s races, including New Mexico, where term-limited Governor Susana Martinez (R) will be leaving office. Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund, LCV’s state affiliate, has endorsed Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).
“Our state partner helped regain pro-environment leadership in the state legislature in 2016, so New Mexico is poised to enact proactive climate legislation if departing Governor Susana Martinez is replaced by an environmental champion,” wrote Maysmith.
Colorado has been a typical target for environmental groups and 2018 will be no different. “LCV and our affiliates will also focus resources in states like Colorado, where once again winning just one seat in the state Senate would flip the chamber to a pro-environment majority,” Maysmith wrote.
Currently, Republicans have a slight one-vote majority in the Colorado State Senate, while Democrats control the State House.
Maysmith himself hails from Colorado. Up until September of last year he was the executive director of the environmental advocacy group Conservation Colorado. While the group usually focuses on statewide and legislative races, under Maysmith’s leadership the group waded into municipal elections for the first time last year, endorsing two candidates in the Aurora City Council race. The group also spent $1.3 million on state races. When their chosen candidates won their city council elections, Conservation Colorado put out a statement lauding their stances on environmental issues.
While 2018 will mark an unprecedented amount of spending on state-wide elections, LCV is known for pouring millions into congressional races. In fact, the group spent nearly $20 million during the 2016 election cycle and $25 million total in 2014.
Steyer himself spent $163 of his own money over the 2014 and 2016 elections and has targeted local governments in states like New Mexico and Nevada. In New Mexico, Steyer’s spending focused on six state legislature races as well as the office of Secretary of State in 2016. His dollar blitz helped flip the control of state government and successfully elected a Democrat as Secretary of State.