A pair of Democratic governors and climate activists are encouraging the party’s presidential candidates to focus on green energy as a way to win votes in next year’s election.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s first Democratic presidential debate, the officials said a plan to boost the American clean energy sector could be a winning issue for the party’s nominee.
“Although this is a Democratic debate, we know that people of all stripes will be watching,” Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward Fired WSU football coach suing school over illegal termination Nearly 1,900 Washington state employees quit, fired over vaccine mandate MORE (D-Wash.) said on a call with reporters.
“And Republican voters today — voters, maybe not public officials — accept the need to deal with this threat of carbon pollution.”
Climate activists have pushed Democratic candidates — especially front-runner Hillary Clinton — to move left on climate issues. Clinton’s top rivals — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) — have looked to do the same and burnish their green credentials along the way.
But Democrats say their candidates need to do more than just publicly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline or drilling in the Arctic, as all three have done.
“We need much more to develop the jobs that are inherent in a clean energy economy other than the negative of not building a pipeline,” Inslee said.
“We need to find economic messages, incentives and a leveling of the playing field between fossil fuels and new energy technologies by adopting some measures of restriction of carbon pollution that will inspire, enable and help finance the new systems of energy.”
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, the president of NextGen Climate, said polling has shown support for more renewable energy use among battleground state voters, something he said Democrats should advantage of.
“Clean energy is the ultimate growth strategy for our economy," he said. "Seizing on this growth strategy is the ultimate opportunity for the Democratic Party, especially this year.”
Steyer has spent millions of dollars from his fortune trying to elevate climate change to a top political issue. Much of that funding has gone toward helping Democratic candidates.
In the first two GOP presidential debates, Republicans fielded few questions on climate change. Democrats hope that changes when their candidates take the stage.
“I’m most interested in understanding how the candidates view dealing with climate change within their broader economic development approach,” Gov. Jack Markell (D-Del.) said.
“For too long, climate change has been an issue that’s only been talked about as an environmental issue. It’s so much more than that.”