[dropcap]E[/dropcap]NVIRONMENTAL politics group NextGen Climate Colorado, bankrolled by billionaire Tom Steyer, launched an ad today attacking Colorado Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner. It was just a matter of time, and the time has come.
Steyer is a climate activist based in California who has pledged $50 million of his own money to help elect candidates who believe in the science of climate change and who will commit to supporting policies designed to combat global warming trends. Steyer for months has eyed the Colorado race that pits Gardner against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. Republicans have a good shot at flipping control of the Senate this year and the Colorado contest is one of the tightest in the nation.
What’s more, the differences between the candidates are stark. Udall is a longtime dedicated conservationist. Gardner is a proud member of the unofficial Republican House climate-change denial caucus. It was inevitable that Steyer’s group would target Gardner for attack.
The ad released today links Gardner’s anti-science views on climate change to his conservative views on abortion and gay marriage.
“He thinks he knows better than the scientists, NASA and the U.S. military on climate change, and he thinks the government should decide who can and can not marry,” says the narrator, a woman. “He led an eight-year crusade that would outlaw birth control and make abortion a felony crime. He’s Cory Gardner, and he thinks he should decide for us. Because he thinks he knows better…”
Perhaps more interesting than the ad is the response to it released almost immediately by the Gardner campaign after NextGen announced it was airing its ad. The response is a broadside aimed at Steyer, attacking him as a “Colorado hater” and attention-seeker who once sought to “destroy Colorado’s agriculture industry.”
But the Gardner campaign release said nothing to answer the charges leveled in the ad. There’s a reason for that. Gardner has notched a long and consistent anti-environmental record as a lawmaker while acting as best friend to the oil industry, which has been his main source of campaign contributions.
In 2010, he signed a “No Climate Tax Pledge” in which he promised to oppose “any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” In 2011, Gardner was singled out in a report commissioned by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as one of the main players who made the lower chamber of the 112th Congress “the most anti-environment House in history.” In 2013, he landed on the bottom tier in the League of Conservation Voters’ congressional scorecard rankings.
That is a very short list of the material NextGen Climate Colorado has to work with over the next two and half months. The hits will keep coming. Steyer has billions to spend and he doesn’t care what the Gardner campaign has to say about him. He’s not running for office.