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Today in campaign news: Sierra Club endorses state and local candidates

by: Eric B.

Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 17:00:00 PM EDT

From Ye Olde Inbox:

Flight one: Coleman Young for State Senate District 1, Morris Hood for State Senate District 3, Virgil Smith for State Senate District 4, Vincent Gregory for State Senate District 11, Kevin Commet for State Senate District 16, Jim Ananich for State Senate District 27, Sarah Howard for State Senate District 30, Ron Mindykowski for State Senate District 31, Fred Sprague for State Senate District 33, Cathy Forbes for State Senate District 34, and Phil Bellfy for State Senate District 37.

Flight two: Stephanie Chang for State Representative District 6, Sherry Gay Dagnogo for State Representative District 8, Julie Plawecki for State Representative District 11, Kristy Pagan for State Representative District 21, John Chirkun for State Representative District 22, David Haener for State Representative District 23, Robert Wittenberg for State Representative District 27, Derek Miller for State Representative District 28, Bo Karpinsky for State Representative District 30, Christine Greig for State Representative District 37, Sandy Colvin for State Representative District 39, Phil Phelps for State Representative District 49, Sharon Wimple for State Representative District 57, Jon Hoadley for State Representative District 60, John Fischer for State Representative District 61, Andy Helmbolt for State Representative District 62, Rob VerHeulen for State Representative District 74, Annie Braidwood for State Representative District 85, Lynn Mason for State Representative District 86, Betsy Coffia for State Representative District 104, and Robert Kennedy for State Representative District 106.

They also endorsed David Bowman for Oakland County Commission, District 10.

Eric B. :: Today in campaign news: Sierra Club endorses state and local candidates
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Sierra Club backs up their endorsements
I've been helping a candidate previously endorsed by the Sierra Club, and one of his volunteers is an intern with the Sierra Club.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

50 volunteers deployed
Over this election cycle that's how many interns are assigned to Sierra Club's endorsed candidates. Largest Sierra Club program of its kind in the country pioneered by political director Mike Berkowitz.  

[ Parent ]
Based on the person the Sierra Club
Sends to my area, I can't say that this sounds like a difference maker. Quite frankly, sending self-appointed geniuses out from Ann Arbor to tell us yokels how to do things isn't the best approach (to be kind).

[ Parent ]
Depends on the person, perhaps.
In the campaign with which I'm involved, the Sierra Club person is quite humble - he's helping out rather than trying to call the shots.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

[ Parent ]
Looking at all the Sierra endorsements for state House
(previous and newly announced), here is the pattern:

one Republican, in a safe Republican seat, all the rest Democrats.

27 in safe Democratic seats, 1 in a probable Dem, 2 leaning Dem, 1 Tossup, 1 leaning R, 6 probable R, 9 safe R.

Given the overall distribution in those categories, the only noticeable trend is that fewer Dems running in safe R seats are endorsed, but there are still 9. So on the whole, they are willing to endorse anyone with the right values, it seems.

Also, you might expect all threatened Dem incumbents, or Dem challengers with a good shot, to be endorsed -- but no. A good many are missing. So again, Sierra is looking first at their values, and only secondarily at the political aspects.

Also, a higher proportion of Senate Dems vs. House Dems endorsed
22/38 = 79% vs. 47/110 = 43%

[ Parent ]
Nonpartisanship, not bipartisanship
Some nonprofit groups seem to try to be bipartisan in their political decisions, sometimes bending their standards a lot to appear balanced. It's similar to the false equivalency we often see from the news media. They want to appear "balanced" so they give both sides equal weight regardless of whether the facts and truth lead to a particular conclusion. So they tweak the questions on their legislative scorecards to lower the bar, or they might give the governor, for instance, green points for a good speech where he says the right things even though he does nothing or worse.

I think Sierra Club is more nonpartisan.  Same standards for every candidate, or at least that's the goal. I say goal because it's imperfect, of course.  There are probably higher expectations for the party that claims to be the environmental party and in today's political world it's a rare Republican indeed who can even admit to believing in climate disruption let along do something about it.

This is the guidance given to Sierra Club chapters in considering endorsements:

"Sierra Club endorsement decisions should be based primarily on three major criteria:
(1) The candidate's overall environmental record and platform, as measured by his or her history of
public service, public statements, responses in Club interviews and questionnaires, and other factors;
(2) The candidate's performance on environmental issues as an incumbent, if the candidate is an incumbent running for reelection; and
(3) The candidate's prospect of winning the election, or at least mounting a credible campaign.

"Politics is an art, not a science, and the application of these criteria depends on the specific circumstances of the particular case."

[ Parent ]
Every community in the Democratic coalition is technically non-partisan
The idea that environmentalism is in itself progressive in nature is flawed thinking, especially since a lot of the most notable environmentalists leaned more libertarian-ish in their politics. But, we live in a different time and libertarian-ish means something different.

But, the belief that environmental organizations are cornerstone Democratic constituencies is based on the fact that the Republican Party threw out or marginalized all of its moderates or environmentally-friendly conservatives. That's why, today, even Republicans that people consider to be eco-friendly are still pretty horrible on the environment ... they say the right things but still find it in them to do the wrong ones. That's especially true today, when scientific illiteracy is considered an important litmus test to win any sort of Republican nomination.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
The guidance you cite is helpful in understanding this pattern,
especially point (3): "...or at least mounting a credible campaign."

I'm seeing a number of (nine) of endorsed Dems in safe Rep districts, but not in proportion to how many there are. So they don't mind if they are not going to win; the question is, are these people going to campaign on and articulate pro-environment issues. And the answer for a number of people recruited to fill up the ticket is no, they are not going to be actively campaigning on anything.

[ Parent ]
In your estimation in what districts
Are the Dem candidates not actively campaigning? Any competitive or potentially competitive districts?

[ Parent ]
No, not at all.
First of all, I'm not following all the races across the state closely, I know what's going on in SW & W MI primarily. And everywhere we have a smidgen of a chance, even 2%, we have great candidates who are working hard. But there are a bunch of safe seats (on both sides) where there is 0% chance. And even there, in some places we have great candidates who are working hard to encourage turnout for the whole ticket, and to hold up our values. A vote for Mark Schauer from Ottawa County counts just as much as one from Wayne County. However, there are also some who were recruited so that we would have a full slate, on the understanding that they would not need to do anything, or rather that whatever they did would be appreciated but optional. It is these that Sierra would pass on endorsing, I think. Most likely, they did not return the questionnaire.

I'm not going to name names. And I do not mean to imply that if a Dem was not endorsed, they are not campaigning hard. There could be lots of reasons for a non-endorsement.

I was just pointing out a reason for the observed pattern of fewer endorsements of Dems running in safe R districts.

[ Parent ]
Candidate questionnaires
I can't speak to any specific endorsements but one of things Sierra Club looks at with non-incumbents with no voting history is a candidate's answers to the organization's candidate questionnaire.  

[ Parent ]

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