Energy & Environment

NextGen: Climate change is ‘top-tier’ issue in 2014 races

November may be two months away, but billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and his political action team say they’ve made climate change a “top-tier” issue in seven key races.

Since unveiling campaigns in seven states across the U.S., Steyer’s group, NextGen Climate, said on call with reporters Wednesday that it is “successfully making climate change a top-tier issue for voters.”

{mosads}Still, getting thousands of voters to the polls this November who will vote for candidates who believe in climate change will be the test.

In the final months, Steyer’s team will continue to target more than 1 million voters in the seven races they vowed to shake up.

To get the job done NextGen has hired over 700 people and opened 20 offices across the seven states.

NextGen’s focus is “drop-off voters,” or ones who don’t consistently vote in nonpresidential election years.

In May, Steyer’s group jumped into the Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa Senate races, and the Florida, Maine and Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaigns.

Steyer’s top strategist, Chris Lehane, said, without a doubt, “climate change has emerged as an issue” in the campaigns they have focused.

Wednesday’s call was meant to provide a status update on the group’s campaign strategy, which has come under fire from Republicans and dubbed as unconventional by political strategists.

In the final months, NextGen will continue running its aggressive ad buys, and mail, telephone and email households in the seven states where they have built up operations.

Canvassers for NextGen plan to knock on over 750,000 doors by Election Day. So far, the group has tackled 125,000 of that total.

Critics of Steyer’s agenda to make climate change a wedge issue say his 2014 strategy has had little bite so far.

Steyer said he would funnel $100 million into races this year, with at least $50 million of it coming from his own pocket. The rest, Steyer hopes to bring in from other wealthy donors who want to rally behind the climate change banner.

In July, NextGen raised $8 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings, but only $501,000 of it came from outside donors. The other $7.5 million came from Steyer.

NextGen isn’t worried though.

“If the issue is whether there are significant resources for the 2014 campaign, we have the resources,” Lehane told The Hill last month.

Tags Climate change NextGen Climate Tom Steyer
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