This past weekend, I helped convince two California Democratic members of Congress—and several more candidates for governor and Congress—to pledge to stop taking fossil fuel money at the annual state party convention.
I asked electeds and candidates who wanted to speak to the party’s environmental caucus, which I chair, to sign a pledge not to take oil money over $200, and to instead prioritize Californians’ public health over oil industry profits. And they did! Nanette Barragan (CA-44), who Climate Hawks Vote endorsed in 2016, proudly signed - and she’s doing excellent work in Congress so far on environmental justice. Ro Khanna (CA-17) signed, as part of his principle not to take money from any PACs.
Four declared candidates for governor asked to speak to my caucus. And upon learning of the pledge, three of them didn’t show up:
— Antonio Villaraigosa asked for speaking time, but his plane landed late
— Gavin Newsom asked for speaking time, but went to the rural caucus meeting instead
— John Chiang went to the veterans’ and rural caucuses instead
— However, Delaine Eastin signed.
And, perhaps most interesting, state Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon — who is a fierce climate hawk, who is fundraising for something, and who launched a well-made video on the #CAResistance — signed the pledge. As did Tom Steyer, who is likewise weighing a run for something.
California candidates running in red-to-blue Congressional seats signed too! At least seven California seats currently held by Republicans are seen as critical for Democrats’ efforts to retake the House in 2018. We’re keeping an eye on them to see who emerges from primaries and which, if any, candidates deserve a Climate Hawks Vote endorsement. For now, here’s who pledged this weekend not to take oil money:
-- Dotty Nygard, running in CA-10 against Jeff Denham
-- Bryan Caforio and Katie Hill, both running in CA-25 against Steve Knight
-- Kia Hamadanchy, running in CA-45 against Mimi Walters
-- Harley Rouda, running in CA-48 against global warming denier Dana Rohrabacher
So did California officials like Dave Jones, running for Attorney General, and Tony Thurmond, running for state superintendent of schools. (Thurmond’s opponent, pro-charter-school Marshall Tuck, originally asked to speak to my caucus but then did not show up.)
The pledge was a huge hit. We marched from the convention to an Oil Money Out rally, where I briefly spoke. Then back to the general session, then to the resolutions committee (I presented a resolution demanding that the legislature and executive branches take all legal steps to defend California’s coast from offshore oil drilling, which ultimately passed the convention). On the convention floor, delegates posed with the sign and took pictures of it to see who had signed.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
I want every Democrat running for Congress to sign this. Every. Single. One. (And sure, every single Republican too, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that.)
Whether they’re 20 year entrenched veteran incumbents or fresh-faced optimistic challengers, they all need to forswear fossil fuel money. Simply put, our democracy is being drowned by a tidal wave of dark oily money - and we need to rescue it!
The plan is simple. Click here to ask your member of Congress to take the pledge!
Climate Hawks Vote has begun working with local organizations in Massachusetts, Virginia, and California. Then, over the weekend, people from Oregon and Minnesota expressed interest in similar drives in their states. This is going national. And it starts with a petition.
Ask your member of Congress to take the pledge: “Pledge not to accept support from the fossil fuel industry and instead protect the health of our families, our climate, and our democracy.”