Climate Action Trumps Science Denial in Virginia Governor's Race

Terry McAuliffe, who supports Environmental Protection Agency carbon pollution limits and was endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, defeated avowed climate science denier Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday in Virginia's election for governor.

NWFAF Virginia CandidatesVoters told of his conservation values overwhelmingly said they’d vote for McAuliffe.

A Washington Post poll a week before the election showed likely voters trusted McAuliffe over Cuccinelli on energy and environment issues by a 48% to 40% margin. “One man who described himself as a staunch Republican, but who was voting for McAuliffe, denounced Cuccinelli’s legal fight with a climate scientist over global warming,” reports the Associated Press.

Top climate scientist Michael Mann, who received a National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award in September, actively campaigned for McAuliffe. Cuccinelli had targeted Mann with lawsuits the Washington Post called a witch hunt. “I congratulate Terry McAuliffe, a man truly worthy of being the next Governor of the great Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Mann last night. “As for Ken Cuccinelli, I am pleased to see Virginia voters reject his destructive and dangerous brand of politics, and his contempt for science and rational thought.”

McAuliffe immediately becomes a key player in America’s booming clean energy sector. Dominion Virginia Power recently won the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s auction for offshore wind leasing rights off the Virginia coast, an area with the potential to power more than 700,000 homes with clean, renewable offshore wind power.

Between McAuliffe’s win, Ed Markey’s win in June’s Massachusetts Senate special election, and an 18-candidate sweep last fall, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund-endorsed candidates are now 20-for-20 over the last year. Meanwhile, the polluter-aligned U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $20 million in an attempt to defeat seven pro-conservation senators last year and lost in all seven races.

The message for candidates is clear: Supporting conservation values and climate action isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good politics.