Earth '06: An Election Guide

Because the planet really is in the balance. Check out our latest results update!

What’s the conventional wisdom about congressional midterm elections? That with rare exceptions—such as 1994, when the GOP seized control of Congress for the first time in 40 years—midterms don’t matter much, largely because voters don’t turn out in large numbers when they’re not voting for President.

This year, you can throw that conventional wisdom out the window. These elections could rock the electoral landscape.

With Americans displeased with President Bush—under 40 percent of the public approves of his job performance—and increasingly concerned about the direction of the country, the 2006 midterms could well be the most traumatic for incumbents since Newt Gingrich stormed the Capitol twelve years ago. And for the environment, the stakes are high; the Bush-Cheney environmental record has been, in a word, awful.

To help you prepare for November 7th, Plenty presents this guide to the issues and candidates that matter most for green voters. Because the more you know, the greener you’ll vote.

Key Green Campaigns

From Connecticut to California, here are the election races that matter the most. By Carmen Johnson.

California 11th Congressional District

Jerry McNerney (D) vs. Rep. Richard Pombo (R)
Latest poll: McNerney 48%, Pombo 46%

Is the House’s biggest environmental menace endangered?

The Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund are spending some $3 million to take down the man they consider Congress’s greatest threat to the environment: Congressman Richard Pombo. The seven-term representative from Tracy, California, is the chairman of the House Resources Committee and is moving up the ladder on the Agriculture Committee. Pombo, a rancher known for his uncompromising pro-development stands, pushed through the House legislation to end the offshore oil-drilling ban and wants to make mining on public lands easier. But he may be best known for weakening the Endangered Species Act of 1973 by softening restrictions on “critical habitat” land for threatened or endangered species. Pombo’s opponent, wind-energy engineer and Democrat Jerry McNerney, promises to push for investment in solar and wind energy. In a district with high rates of asthma, McNerney is also campaigning for stricter clean-air and clean-water legislation. If Pombo goes, enviros will breathe easier.

Pennsylvania Senate

Bob Casey Jr. (D) vs. Sen. Rick Santorum (R)
Latest poll: Casey 48%, Santorum 40%

A hot-button Republican insists he has a green side

Facing a room of 400 green activists at a dinner in early June, Republican Senator Rick Santorum called himself a “practical environmentalist.” Environmental groups, which have placed Santorum on their November hit-list, aren’t buying it. In 2005, Santorum voted against tightening the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s mercury-emission rates for power plants and against a resolution that gave global warming official Senate recognition as a real threat. Santorum’s opponent, State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr.—endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters—opposes oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and supports the EPA’s Superfund program, which taxes polluting companies to clean up industrial sites. Environmentalists hope the green ally will replace the high-ranking Senator.

Missouri Senate

Claire McCaskill (D) vs. Sen. Jim Talent (R)
Latest poll: McCaskill 46%, Talent 43%

A fresh face hopes to convince Missouri voters that Washington needs new energy

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