Virginia LCV PAC 2017 Electoral Recap

In 2017, Virginia League of Conservation Voters PAC (Virginia LCV PAC) invested more than $4 million to elect Ralph Northam Governor, Justin Fairfax Lieutenant Governor, re-elect Mark Herring as Attorney General and support House of Delegate candidates who are dedicated to conservation values and committed to defending clean air, clean water, and open spaces. This spending represents Virginia LCV PAC’s largest electoral investment ever.

Virginia LCV PAC has a long history of smart investments in voter outreach, having the largest field presence outside of the campaign itself during the 2013 governor’s race and investing $1.8 million to bring Governor Terry McAuliffe across the finish line. This led to Virginia making progress on a variety of environmental priorities, including a significant expansion of renewable energy in Virginia, a reinvigorated focus on addressing climate change, and a first-of-its-kind effort to cap carbon emissions in the Commonwealth.

Now is the time to build on this progress, and widespread support for conservation issues in Virginia continues. In this year’s governor’s race, voters responded to Northam’s commitment to protecting our environment over Ed Gillespie’s history of siding with polluters and his refusal to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on our clean air and water. From the debate stage and TV screens to conversations with individual voters going door-to-door, environmental issues broke through the often contentious campaign rhetoric.

We still have a final sprint before polls close on Tuesday night, but one thing is clear:  Virginia’s environmental community has stepped up in a huge way to ensure that our elected leaders hear the priorities of people across the Commonwealth who want to preserve our natural resources for decades to come. 

See below for an overview of Virginia LCV PAC’s 2017 political work.

Over $4 Million Invested 

Virginia LCV PAC’s more than $4 million in 2017 electoral spending went toward direct voter contact, digital persuasion and mobilization, and investment in individual campaigns by Virginia LCV PAC and through GiveGreen in the States.

  • Field: $1.4 million door-to-door canvass in metro-Richmond area
  • Digital: $525,000 digital program focused on persuading and turning out voters for Northam
  • Direct contributions: Over $1.14 million contributed by VALCV PAC to candidates at the statewide level and in key House of Delegate races
  • GiveGreen in the States: Environmental donors contributed over $1.3 million directly to key statewide candidates and targeted House of Delegate races via GiveGreen in the States, a project of LCV Political Engagement Fund and NextGen Climate

Over 350,000 Door Knocks and Hundreds of Volunteers Engaged

Voter mobilization is key to electing environmental champions up and down the ballot. That’s why Virginia LCV PAC prioritized direct voter contact and once again ran one of the largest field programs outside of the campaign itself.

Since launching in June, our field program has reached voters across Virginia:

  • 187,930 door knocks to reach persuadable voters in Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond
  • For the final week, more than 102,000 additional door knocks to turn out voters in Chesterfield, Hampton Roads, Henrico, Petersburg and Richmond
  • GreenRoots mobilization to engage volunteers directly with the Virginia coordinated campaign, generating more than 1,000 volunteer shifts
  • In total, during the last four days over 1,000 people will have conversations with more than 100,000 voters on the phones and in person

Environmental Messaging Breaks Through

Climate change and threats to Virginia’s clean air and water were defining issues in the governor’s race, with a clear distinction between Northam and Gillespie.

Early in the race, the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board criticized Gillespie’s plan to address sea level rise for omitting climate change, saying he was dodging the root issue. In both the Sept. 19 and Oct. 9 debates, Northam called out Gillespie for standing by Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement. And at the Chesapeake Bay candidates forum, Gillespie defended his environmental policy by saying his relationships with the Trump administration would help Virginia secure much-needed funding – despite Trump’s EPA slashing budgets for protecting our clean air and water.

The Northam campaign ran an ad focused on the environment, featuring Northam saying he trusts the science on climate change and calling out Gillespie’s work for climate deniers. This clear distinction was even featured in the Washington Post’s endorsementsupporting Northam:

“On climate change, Mr. Northam would continue Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) innovative initiative promoting low-carbon energy technologies with efficient, market-based policies. Mr. Gillespie has condemned the plan, in keeping with his and his party’s effort to promote coal, an outdated, dirty energy source that has struggled to compete in recent years.”

Voters responded strongly to environmental messaging. Internal polling showed electing someone who will stand up to Trump’s attacks on our clean air and water was just as important as cuts to healthcare, even more so with select voters.

Finally, Gillespie’s record of putting polluters above people earned him the honor of being the first 2017-2018 candidate named to Dirty Dozen in the States – the state-level companion to the national League of Conservation Voters’ Dirty Dozen – which highlights 12 of the most anti-environment state-level candidates from around the country who state LCVs are working to defeat. Virginia LCV PAC also launched to dig into Gillespie’s record, and drove op-eds and letters to the editor among other key earned media.

Virginia LCV PAC Recognized as a Driving Force in Governor’s Race

As second only to the Democratic Governors Association in support for Northam’s campaign, Virginia LCV PAC was recognized in the press as central player to the race. Highlights include:

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/16/17
Va. League of Conservation Voters PAC to announce $1.1 million field effort to boost Northam

The Washington Post, 8/31/17
Ralph Northam picks up additional $700K from environmental group

Politico, 9/14/17
Liberal groups pour $2M into Virginia governor digital ads

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/24/17
Virginia League of Conservation Voters pumps more than $3 million into state races

Winning Down Ballot – House of Delegate Races

Virginia LCV PAC worked to elect a conservation majority to the General Assembly by prioritizing three incumbents and nine challengers in House of Delegate races. Virginia LCV PAC raised and invested $120,250 in House races in total this cycle.

Key endorsed candidates include:

Prioritized incumbents

o   HD87- John Bell (D- Loudoun)

o   HD93- Mike Mullin (D- Williamsburg)

o   HD10- Randy Minchew (R- Leesburg)

Prioritized challengers

o   HD2- Jennifer Foy (D- Prince William)

o   HD12- Chris Hurst (D- New River Valley)

o   HD32- David Reid (D- Loudoun)

o   HD42- Kathy Tran (D- Fairfax)

o   HD51- Hala Ayala (D- Woodbridge)

o   HD67- Karrie Delaney (D- Chantilly)

o   HD72- Schuyler VanValkenburg (D- Henrico)

o   HD85- Cheryl Turpin (D- Virginia Beach)

o   HD94- Shelly Simonds (D- Newport News)

Moving Forward  

With wins up and down the ballot, Virginians will be one step closer toward cleaner water, cleaner air, and public lands that will be protected for future generations.

From securing a final regulation that cuts carbon pollution from Virginia power plants to addressing coal ash, several environmental priorities will fall on the next administration’s and General Assembly’s agenda. At the same time, Virginia’s environmental community will have to continue fighting the extreme, anti-environmental policies coming out of Washington.

Making progress is not possible without leaders who will put our communities ahead of polluters, which is why Virginia LCV PAC made its largest-ever investment in electing representatives committed to conservation and willing to provide consistent leadership to protect, preserve and improve Virginia’s environment. No matter the result next Tuesday, our work will continue.

Paid for by Virginia League of Conservation Voters PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate political action committee.