Did climate billionaire waste millions?

Did climate billionaire waste millions?
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Billionaire climate activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerYouth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds Overnight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline MORE's political action committee has spent $65 million on the midterm elections across state and congressional races this year, according to spokesman Bobby Whithorne. 

But will it be enough?


The former hedge fund manager vowed to make climate change a wedge issue earlier this year and committed to funneling at least $50 million of his own money into the midterms. 

He’s focused on Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa, which all are hosting Senate races seen as critical to Democrats’ fight to keep their majority.

Steyer’s political action group, NextGen Climate, pledged to bring “money ball” to politics and set up a team of strategists from every “winning” Democratic presidential campaign over the last 30 years.

NextGen Climate is already claiming victory for climate change this election year.

“One thing is clear: this has truly been a pivotal year for climate politics, giving our efforts an unprecedented leg up going into 2016,” NextGen political director, Sky Gallegos, said in a memo on Friday.

“I’m happy to report that we have met and exceeded our goals across the board. Climate change has been a top-tier issue in every NextGen Climate state, and our Republican opponents have been forced to go on the defense,” Gallegos said. 

She added that NextGen Climate ran a “formidable” paid media campaign, and opened over 50 offices across the country, building a team of more than 2,000 staff members and volunteers.

A majority of the $65 million spent on the midterms went to federal races and operations for NextGen. The remaining funds were funneled into non-federal state races Steyer deemed important, including the Florida gubernatorial fight. 

Polling suggests Steyer will have a mixed night at best.

Here’s a breakdown on how much Steyer and NextGen spent in the fight for the Senate, according to Federal Election Commission filings and the Center for Responsive Politics.


Against Republican Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner: $7 million
Supporting incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D): $421,202

NextGen has sought to tie Gardner to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers with ties to the energy industry who have backed conservative candidates and causes.

Gardner has said he is skeptical of the science behind climate change, is pro-fossil-fuel development and is a strong proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline. Udall is a conservationist and an outspoken supporter of action on climate change, but he also backs expanding hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in that state.

Republicans think Gardner will win, given recent polling, but Democrats hold out hope that Udall will win tonight.


Against Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst: $4.6 million
In support of Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (D): $781,327

NextGen Climate has repeatedly hit Ernst over her alleged opposition to the renewable fuel standard, which requires refiners to blend a certain amount of ethanol and biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply.

Ernst says she supports the fuel mandate and has called a number of NextGen’s ads false. Steyer has sought to tie Ernst to oil companies and the nation’s top oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute. 

Despite the ads, Ernst holds a slight lead over Braley in a majority of polls, including a Des Moines Register tally that over the weekend showed her 7 points ahead.


Against Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land: $3.9 million
In support of Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters (D): $113,523

In a $3 million ad campaign launched in September, Steyer’s climate group blasted Land for her connections to the Koch brothers, who Steyer blamed for owning petroleum coke in Michigan that was allegedly dumped near a Michigan town.

Koch industries contends it removed the petroleum coke from Michigan over a year ago.

NextGen has also targeted Land on climate change. Land has said she believes climate change is real, but it isn’t her top priority.

Here, Peters is a big favorite, He’s maintained a consistent lead over Land in public polling. Republican strategists privately admit that Land has struggled. 


Against Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown: $3.7 million

NextGen’s ad campaign in New Hampshire targeted Brown over his ties to the Koch brothers, claiming the conservative donors are backing Brown to “protect tax giveaways for big oil, which is pollution our air and water.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) maintains a slight lead and may be able to fend off her challenger, but it will be close. 

This story was updated at 4:21 p.m.