Last night I had dinner with two of my old friends who have been part of environmental activism in a big way since the 1970's. We wound up talking about Tom Hayden, who all of us knew when we were kids and that led to Jane Fonda, to whom he was for a couple of decades. Later, she married Ted Turner who was my boss when his company and then AOL merged with TimeWarner and I recall her being a very good influence on him politically. I had admired her since my college says when she opposed the Vietnam War-- very loudly and at great cost to her career-- and was relentless in her support of the civil rights movement. When I was in school everyone wanted a girlfriend like Jane Fonda. (I had one.)
Anyway, when I got home from dinner I found a memo about her launching the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, dedicated to helping elect climate champions. I don't know her principle advisor Ariel Hayes, but he worked for Sierra Club as a political director and that worries me since Sierra Club has always been the opposite of bold in it's endorsements... kind of establishment, conservative, too cooperative with DCCC scumbags and always ready to sell out environmental champions for the sake of "realism." I sure hope Hayes isn't going to turn Fonda's PAC into more of that garbage. In announcing the PAC she said "It’s time we fight fire with fire or, in this case, to fight dollars with dollars. Jane Fonda Climate PAC will have one goal: do whatever it takes to defeat the political allies of the fossil fuel industry, no matter which side of the aisle they’re on." (Watch the video up top.)
There are several Dem v Dem races that will give us an idea of how dedicated to real Climate champions the PAC is going to be. In Michigan, a new district in the Detroit suburbs (MI-11) pits Progressive Caucus leader Andy Levin against New Dem backbencher Haley Stevens. Both claim to be climate champions. I know them both personally and I can tell you that he is; she isn't.
Levin is an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal, who has fought relentlessly to ensure that impacted workers have a seat at the very center of the table in crafting policy to save the planet. He takes this kind of thing very seriously and he's put forward several Green New Deal pieces of legislation and co-sponsored every other progressive climate measure put forward by his colleagues. He joined over 100 progressive and climate organizations opposing the House Dems' clean energy bill, loudly calling for more meaningful climate action. That's what differentiates between someone who does what they're told and someone who fits the "Champion" description. Meanwhile, in this race, Levin has received the endorsement of 7 climate groups and took a No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.
Stevens timidly declined to support the Green New Deal and said she would rather focus on legislation over resolutions. To date, there are seven Green New Deal pieces of legislation, and she hasn't co-sponsored a single one, just like most of her New Dem colleagues. On the other hand, Stevens did support the House Democrats clean energy bill, the same one that genuine climate groups decried for its fossil fuel subsidies. She hasn't received an endorsement from a single climate group.
There's a very similar race in Chicagoland, also pitting two Democratic incumbents against each other in a new district. And again, one, Marie Newman, is a Progressive Caucus leader and one is another conservative member of teh Wall Street-owned New Dems. Like all the New Dems, Casten's career depends on corporate sewer money (just like a Republican)-- in his case over $700,000 from operations like Chevron's, BP's and Exelon's slimy PACs. How does someone who claims to be a climate champion accept thousands of dollars from the most dedicated enemies of Climate Change amelioration?
Meanwhile, Casten's father and his campaign manager are under investigation for illegally coordinating with one of the sleazeball SuperPACs that bolsters Casten's career. Needless to say, Casten refuses to sign on to Newman’s bill that would fight climate change, America’s Clean Future Fund Act and Casten himself holds a huge stake in a wood-burning energy firm-- which has also been cited multiple years in a row for violating the Clean Water Act.
I'm watching these two races and others like them-- like the one in southeast L.A. between environmental and climate champion Cristina Garcia and polluter Robert Garcia; I'll keep you posted. And if you want to chip in to Marie Newman's campaign and Andy Levin's campaign, you can do it right here on the 2022 Worthy Incumbents ActBlue page.