Although the green vote was important in the 1996 elections, and a number of successes were apparent, victories of candidates likely to support the wolf were few and far between in the critical states of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado.
Candidates likely to favor the wolf made no progress in Wyoming or Idaho. Idaho even returned Helen Chenoweth to the U.S. House of Representatives. She won by a narrow margin over Democrat Dan Williams -- 50% to 48%. The 2 % margin of victory Williams needed may have been taken by the Natural Law Party candidate. NLP won 2.5% of the vote in the first congressional district. The wolf wasn't much of an overt issue in the campaign. The campaign featured large expenditures by both candidates. There was much independent and "soft money" campaigning by labor unions for Williams and right wing and natural resource groups for Chenoweth. In terms of direct contributions to the campaigns, Chenoweth raised more money than Williams at about a 5:3 ratio. It is my belief that Chenoweth was lifted by a concern from Republicans that without her vote, the House might be lost to the Democrats. In Idaho's second congressional district, Republican incumbent Mike Crapo defeated challenger John Seidl by almost 40%. Republican Crapo is generally more moderate then Chenoweth, and much less prone to polarizing rhetoric. Idaho "independent" Democrat Walk Minnick was easily beaten by senator Larry Craig.
Idaho is now the most Republican state in the country. At the present, it is hard to see how the Democratic Party in Idaho can possibly recover. Their membership in the Idaho Legislature was reduced to less than 10 per cent of the House and 20 per cent of the Idaho Senate.
This one party dominance doesn't mean everyone agrees in Idaho. Idahoans are in profound disagreement on many issues. However, almost all of the big voting blocs are demographically Republican. I predict the result will be factionalism. Factionalism inside one party systems is usually intense.
In Montana, hopes that former regional EPA administrator Bill Yellowtail would hold Montana's lone House seat for the Democrats were dashed when he lost by 7 per cent to Republican Rick Hill. The contested seat was that of retiring Pat Williams, perhaps the only congressional friend of the wolf in the 3 state area. Unlike Idaho, wolf opponents did not gain in the state legislative contests in Montana or Wyoming. A key question is whether congressman-elect Hill will side with the Montana's moderate Republican faction led by popular governor Mark Racicot (pronounced "Roscoe") or with Senator Conrad Burns, perhaps the most prominent anti-wolf U.S. Senator.
Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, strong on many environmental issues, but lukewarm on wolves, was re-elected.
In Wyoming, Democratic senatorial candidate Kathy Karpin lost to Mike Enzi, a rather traditional Wyoming mineral industry supporter. Both of Wyoming senators probably should be characterized as anti-wolf. Wyoming's lone U.S. House member, Barbara Cubin, was reelected to her second term against Democrat Peter Maxfield, who has run numerous times unsuccessfully for office. Neither Cubin nor Maxfield were supporters of environmental legislation.
In Colorado, where wolf supporters hope to reintroduce the wolf, the election of Republican Wayne Allard over Tom Strickland dashed hopes. As a congressman, Allard had a negative record on public land and wildlife issues. He also made the League of Conservation Voters' "Dirty Dozen" list.
Supporters of national parks will still be beset by Utah's first district congressman, Jim Hansen. Hansen, proponent of the last Congress' "national parks closing commission", was re-elected again. He will again chair the National Parks sub-committee of the House Resources Committee. Hansen is now especially angered by the President's declaration of the "Escalante Canyons/Grand Staircase" National Monument in southern Utah during the election campaign.
Protection of this world famous slickrock canyon and painted desert country greatly angered the resource extraction-oriented Utah congressional delegation. The new national monument is just 10 % smaller than Yellowstone National Park.
On the other hand, the strongly negative public reaction to those elements of the 104 th Congress that wanted to close and/or sell off the national parks and other public lands will probably dampen the support the full House gives to full scale anti-public lands proposals.
Supporters of public lands also have the filibuster in the Senate, and President Clinton will be the first President to enjoy the new power of the line item veto. Many of the anti-public lands measures of the last Congress centered on attaching the measures that would never pass by themselves to appropriations and similar legislation. The President's new power only applies to appropriations measures.
Below is a national analysis of the election by CLEARview, a group that monitors the doings of the "wise use" or "brown" movement. Their analysis is their own.
I do not necessarily subscribe to their analysis or opinions.
Permission to repost by electronic means (or reproduce in other media) all or part of the attached report is granted so long as the information is attributed to CLEAR.
Please visit our new home page.
SPECIAL ELECTION ISSUE:
"The re-election of President Bill Clinton means the continuation of existing administration policies which seek to undermine private property and traditional rural industries such as farming, grazing, mining and forestry. ... While the Senate numbers did not change significantly, the new Republicans will take the Senate more to the right. This may make it easier to overcome a filibuster or presidential veto on some issues such as compensation for regulatory takings by the government. ... "With smaller majorities in the House, moderate and liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats will play an even larger role. ... They virtually stopped environmental reform by the House in the past two years. They could do so again. With the success in the election today, Congress may be less afraid of threats and scare tactics by the green political lobby."
--Chuck Cushman, Founder, League of Private Property Voters
in Greenwire, 11-6-1996.
In 1996, for the first time, protection of the environment emerged as a salient factor in dozens of races--in the House, the Senate, and the run for the White House. In the two years leading up to the election, a majority in Congress waged a relentless attack against virtually every environmental law on the books--a "war on the environment," as Sierra Club dubbed it, that was bankrolled by record-high campaign contributions from special interest groups. But as the election season approached virtually every poll in the land seemed to be running hard on the Mother Nature ticket.
Environmental Working Group's summary analysis of the environment in the 1996 election follows. You can also search our state-by-state tally of House and Senate races at EWG's database of election results. You'll find information on pro-environment and anti-environment vote ratings, and the candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club. You'll also find results of environmental ballot measures and links to EWG's comprehensive database of campaign contributions.
The race for the White House.
The environment has never figured as prominently in the presidential race as it did in 1996. Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who constantly invoked environmental protection in their ads and on the campaign trail, handily beat Bob Dole and Jack Kemp, who ran away from their own very poor environmental records and the deplorable environmental performance of the 104th Congress. Not surprisingly, Dole and Kemp scarcely mentioned the environment during the campaign. Link to the League of Conservation Voters Presidential Profiles click here environmental analysis of the two tickets.
In Congress, at least 154 of the 222 candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club won election, a 69% success rate (with some races still undecided as of Nov. 6).
The pro-environment legislators who made LCV's Earth List overwhelmingly on Nov. 5:
Sam Farr, CA-17
Max Cleland, GA Senate
Connie Morella, MD-8
Debbie Stabenow, MI-8
Lynn Rivers, MI-13
Paul Wellstone, MN Senate
Sherwood Boehlert, NY-23
Maurice Hinchey, NY-27
Elizabeth Furse, OR-1
Jack Reed, RI Senate
You can also check out LCV's 1996 Endorsements LCV's 1996 endorsements.
Six politicians on the League of Conservation Voters' "Dirty Dozen" went down to defeat, with two races still undecided (as of Nov. 6). LCV is the political arm of the environmental movement.
Dirty Dozen who won:
Helen Chenoweth, ID-1
Frank Riggs, CA-1
Gary Condit, CA-18
Wayne Allard, CO-Sen.
Members of the Dirty Dozen who lost:
Larry Pressler, SD - Sen.
Jim Longley, ME-1
Fred Heineman, ME-1
Jim Ross Lightfoot, IA - Sen.
Randy Tate, WA-9
Michael Flanagan, IL-5
Smith v. Bruggere, OR-Senate [Note: Dirty Dozen member Gordon Smith did finally prevail over Tom Bruggere when the absentee ballots were counted -- RM]
Stockman v. Lampson, TX-9 (runoff on Dec. 10)
Of the 22 House incumbents who lost re-election bids this year, a total of 17--77 percent--had LCV scores below the House average of 45 for the 104th Congress. Most of the losers received high scores from the League of Private Property Voters, an anti-environmental coalition of oil companies, mining interests, logging operations and agribusiness groups whose congressional voting scorecard is politically the mirror opposite of LCV's.
(For more information on Chuck Cushman's League of Private Property Voters, or any other 'wise' use group, visit CLEAR's web site. CLEAR has over 2,000 'wise' use groups listed in a searchable database).
Frank Cremeans, OH-6 LCV Score in 104th *4* Property Rights Voters Score *100*
William P. Baker, CA-10 LCV Score in 104th *8* Property Rights Voters Score *100*
Daniel Frisa, NY-4 LCV Score in 104th *8* Property Rights Voters Score *80*
David Funderburk, NC-2 LCV Score in 104th *8* Property Rights Voters Score *87*
Frederick K. Heineman, NC-4 LCV Score in 104th *8* Property Rights Voters Score *93*
Andrea H. Seastrand, CA-22 LCV Score in 104th *12* Property Rights Voters Score *93*
James Lee Bunn, OR-5 LCV Score in 104th *12* Property Rights Voters Score *93*
Linda Smith, WA-3 LCV Score in 104th *12* Property Rights Voters Score *100*
Randall J. Tate, WA-9 LCV Score in 104th *12* Property Rights Voters Score *100*
Martin R. Hoke, OH-10 LCV Score in 104th *23* Property Rights Voters Score *87*
Jack Metcalf, WA-2 LCV Score in 104th *23* Property Rights Voters Score *93*
Richard Chrysler, MI-8 LCV Score in 104th *27* Property Rights Voters Score *93*
William H. Orton, UT-3 LCV Score in 104th *31* Property Rights Voters Score *73*
James B. Longley Jr., ME-1 LCV Score in 104th *31* Property Rights Voters Score *73*
Michael P. Flanagan, IL-5 LCV Score in 104th *35* Property Rights Voters Score *100*
Gary A. Franks, CT-5 LCV Score in 104th *38* Property Rights Voters Score *80*
Harold Lee Volkmer, MO-9 LCV Score in 104th *38* Property Rights Voters Score *33*
Peter I. Blute, MA-3 LCV Score in 104th *42* Property Rights Voters Score *53*
John David Fox, PA-13 LCV Score in 104th *54* Property Rights Voters Score *40*
Peter Torkildsen, MA-6 LCV Score in 104th *69* Property Rights Voters Score *20*
Michael D. Ward, KY-3 LCV Score in 104th *77* Property Rights Voters Score *7*
William Martini, NJ-8 LCV Score in 104th *81* Property Rights Voters Score *27*
Four of the defeated House incumbents were among LCV's "Dirty Dozen" anti-environmental legislators (Flanagan, IL- 5, Longley, ME-1, Tate, WA-9, and Heineman, NC-4). Two other losing incumbents were targeted by independent expenditure campaigns mounted by the Sierra Club (Seastrand, CA-22, and Chrysler, MI-8).
The League of Private Property Voters saw only one of its "Terrible Twelve" members of Congress defeated at the polls on Nov. 5--a success rate of only 8 percent (with one race still in doubt as of Nov. 6).
The director of LPPV, "wise use" leader Chuck "Rent-a-Riot" Cushman, says "This terrible twelve has threatened property owners across the country by voting against compensation when land is taken by the government, fighting the balancing of costs and benefits in government regulations, opposing all reforms of the Endangered Species Act, and shutting down public lands from public use."
Sen. Max Baucus, MT
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, NY-23
Rep. David Bonior, MI-10
Rep. George Brown, CA-42
Rep. Vic Fazio, CA-3
Rep. Elizabeth Furse, OR-1
Rep. Sam Gejdenson, CT-2
Rep. Maurice Hinchey, NY-26
Rep. David Obey, WI-7
Rep. Chris Shays, CT-4
Sen. Paul Wellstone, MN
Rep. Mike Ward, KY-3
A post-election analysis by Americans for the Environment on ballot initiatives found some high-profile losses, but environmentalists won 19 out of 25 state environmental ballot measures. According to AFE Executive Director Roy Morgan, that 1996 win-rate of 76 percent is a significant improvement for environmental ballot measures compared to recent election cycles (1990 was 65 percent, 1992 and 1994 were 60 percent). Among the winning environmental ballot measures were bond and tax proposals that will result in substantial environmental investments:
* Arkansas ($300 million for water pollution control)
* California ($995 million for environmental protection);
* Maine ($3 million for parks, $16.5 million for environmental cleanup, $10 million for water pollution control);
* Missouri ($57 million per year sales tax for parks and soil conservation);
* Nevada ($20 million for Lake Tahoe erosion control);
* New Jersey ($300 million for lake restoration and $38 million for environmental clean up);
* New York ($1.75 billion for environment and natural resources);
* Rhode Island ($4 million for land purchase and $5 million for environmental remediation).
AFE's Morgan also notes that environmental politics should be aided in the future by passage of campaign finance reform measures in all six of the states in which campaign finance was on the ballot (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Montana and Nevada). In Florida, for instance, sugar interests spent $35 million fighting a penny-per-pound tax on sugar earmarked for Everglades restoration (compared to less than $10 million spent by environmentalists who favored the measure). Likewise, mining interests poured big bucks into the defeat of a clean water ballot measure in Montana.
The 1996 election set records for campaign spending by both parties, and contribution scandals brought the issue of campaign finance reform to the forefront of voters' concerns. The Sierra Club analyzed the role of money in environmental politics in its report, Take the Money and Run
A post-election analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that nine out of every 10 House candidates who spent more than their opponents won election. EWG has a searchable, comprehensive database of campaign contributions to each candidate, including anti-environmental special interest contributions, updated monthly. Since money is such a dominant factor in the electoral process, every voter has a right to know exactly who is subsidizing the election of our representatives.
Anti-environmental spending shaped the outcome of many state ballot propositions, notably the proposed "penny per pound" sugar tax to protect Florida's Everglades and the Montana clean water measure to protect rivers from mining wastes and other pollutants. Where campaign spending was overwhelmingly supportive of the environment -- as in the case of New York's $1.75 billion environmental bond measure -- the environment won.
Dan Barry, CLEAR Director
Allison Daly, Grassroots Coordinator
© 1996 Ralph Maughan
Not to be reprinted, archived, redistributed, etc., without permission.
© 1996 Ralph Maughan