NextGen Climate Action PAC to focus on Rick Scott, Senate races

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Billionaire liberal Tom Steyer is mounting an on-the-ground campaign to aid Democrats and attack Republicans in seven key Senate and gubernatorial races, part of a $100 million effort to put climate change a prime issue in the November midterms.

Steyer, a former hedge fund executive, formed the NextGen Climate Action Super PAC, which will target the governor’s races in Florida, Maine and Pennsylvania as well as Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire.

On Wednesday, NextGen officials released the range of the organization’s strategy, which could be one of the most expensive pro-environment campaigns ever, reports Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO.

Steyer’s push will be the biggest test yet of whether Democrats can handle the outside spending frenzy unleashed by Citizens United, previously relegated to Republican supporters such as billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. His involvement will also inflame the GOP, which is already launching its own counterattack against Democrats, calling them hypocrites who look to seek support with Steyer, but vilify the Kochs.

The plan is to reach out to certain demographics — mostly young, female and minority voters — those most affected by the risk of climate change.

NextGen’s targets are Senate races with Democratic-held seats with serious Republican challenges, but perhaps most of all is with Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, Restuccia writes.

The group is aggressively pursuing Republican candidates like Scott for disputing climate science, maintaining that these deniers are not acting in the best interests of their states. One move will be to focus on donations from fossil fuel companies as a way to raise questions about integrity.

Another tactic is to promote Democrats’ records on renewable energy and climate change.

NextGen will attack Scott for questioning the human role in climate change, and paint him as obliged to BP in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. They will focus on turning out Hispanic voters throughout Florida by talking about rising sea levels and escalating flood insurance costs.

Former Republican governor Charlie Crist, Scott’s leading Democratic opponent, used to present statewide climate summits; during the spill, he was also a fierce critic of BP.

 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.