Election Day 2018 brought some big wins for the environment here in Illinois. Below is a summary of Sierra Club Illinois’ work this year. Thanks for all you did to make it such a success!
Sierra Club made a total of 114 endorsements for the general election, and 81% of them won, which is particularly exciting given the larger than number of challengers and open seat contestants we supported.
Endorsed winning candidates included:
All candidates endorsed for statewide office: J.B Pritzker for Governor, Juliana Stratton for Lt. Governor, Kwame Raoul for Attorney General, and Mike Frerichs for Treasurer
12 out of 14 candidates endorsed for U.S. Congress
16 out of 22 candidates endorsed for Illinois Senate
45 out of 54 candidates endorsed for Illinois House
19 out of 24 candidates endorsed for county offices
We elected 17 new climate and clean energy champions, including:
New State Senators Ram Villivalam (Chicago) Ann Gillespie (Palatine) Rachelle Aud Crowe (Edwardsville) Chris Belt (East St. Louis), New State Representatives Delia Ramirez (Chicago), Lamont Robinson (Chicago), Jennifer Gong Gershowitz (Niles) Celina Villanueva (Chicago), Curtis Tarver (Chicago), Terra Costa Howard (Lombard), Mark Walker (Mt. Prospect), Bob Morgan (Highland Park), Dan Dedich (Buffalo Grove), Joyce Mason (Winthrop Harbor), Anna Stava Murray (Downers Grove), and Maurice West (Rockford), and Karina Villa (St. Charles) – see Karina here Congrats to all!!!
We beat incumbent climate deniers, coal boosters, and clean energy opponents, including, Bruce Rauner, who boasted of his coal, oil, and fracking priorities, climate deniers Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, State Senators Tom Rooney, Michael Connelly, and State Representative Sheri Jesiel, who opposed the Future Energy Jobs Act, and State Senator Ira Silverstein, who supported 30 year ratepayer subsidies for the proposed Tenaska coal plant, and also opposed FEJA.
HOW WE DID IT
From Resistance to Results
In the early days of 2017, Sierra Club was welcoming thousands of new members seeking to put their shock and outrage at Trump and his agenda to work. We quickly decided to begin preparing for the 2018 campaign far earlier than ever before, and started recruiting for and training Political Field Teams in each of our 15 local Groups across Illinois to lead our political field work in 2018. We held 16 of these trainings and kickoff meetings that were attended by 423 people.
Each of these teams filled leadership roles of Recruitment Captain and Data Director, and members were trained in canvassing, phone banking, recruitment, storytelling, social media and the VAN database. As a result, we had skilled, cohesive local teams in place across the state, in most cases way before we even knew which candidates we would be supporting. This built enthusiasm for a bold agenda and response to Trump, more than any individual candidate in most cases, that proved to be very effective and flexible in directing power wherever it would be needed most as opportunities arose.
Setting a Bold Agenda
As the destructive scope of the Trump agenda became shockingly clear early in 2017, we aimed high to move Illinois in entirely the opposite direction. Beginning with listening to our members and allies, for the first time we published a bold agenda for Illinois, 100% In For the Environment, before we even began any consideration of endorsements. As a result, we set the bar for what it meant to move Illinois forward and resist the Trump administration when it comes to energy and the environment, and candidates responded, embracing and expanding on these ideas in races for local, state, and federal office. Check out our video highlighting the agenda!
Our Biggest Volunteer Effort Ever
Our teams held over 75 volunteer events for candidates (phonebanks, canvases, etc.) in the final two months leading up to election day – more than one event per day for our endorsed candidates! We knocked on 28,697 doors for endorsed candidates, and had 6,013 Voter to voter phone conversations about endorsed candidates.
WHAT NOW? – IMPLICATIONS FOR 2019 – AND BEYOND
JB Pritzker Ran and Won On the Boldest Environmental Platform In Illinois History
JB Pritzker prepares to take over the Governor’s office after a campaign proposing to set a goal of 100% clean energy for Illinois, to replace all lead service lines, rebuild the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and our state’s commitment to conservation, act on climate change, and beef up environmental enforcement. Needless to say accomplishing these will take broad coalitions and significant financial investments, making Pritzker’s honesty about the need for a fair tax and strong support from organized labor potentially keys to building the support and resources to accomplish this bold agenda.
Clean Energy Is A Winning Issue in ALL of Illinois
From north to south, we saw clean energy win on Election Day.
Historically it was not unusual to see statewide candidates talk up clean energy and clean air in northeastern Illinois, and then pledge support for coal in central and southern Illinois. In 2018 Democratic candidates ran on clean energy and action on climate change everywhere, including southernmost Illinois, central Illinois, and the Metro East. We are thrilled to work with new dowstate leaders like State Senators Rachelle Aud Crowe (District 56) and Chris Belt (District 57) to promote environmental justice and bring the clean energy economy to these communities.
In one of the marquee congressional races in the country, we backed Sean Casten as he was the first significant Illinois candidate to run first and foremost on climate change solutions. While conventional wisdom suggested Casten run on health care and other important top of mind issues, he always stressed his long commitment to carbon reductions and inspired new levels of activism from our leaders and members in Chicago’s suburbs.
Candidates Paid a Price For Anti-Environment Positions
Bruce Rauner’s coziness with big coal, his appointment of former polluter lobbyist Alec Messina, Illinois EPA’s poor enforcement record, and his association with a DuPage County company (Sterigenics) that was found to be emitting carcinogens in a residential area all reinforced a core narrative that he was a failed governor. Inexplicably, he was unable or unwilling to benefit from his role in the Future Energy Jobs Act (even though he essentially opposed the bill until he signed it) in a year when clean energy resonated across the state. We’re not aware that he ever uttered the words “renewable” or “clean” energy, but he did rally with several of the same coal barons conspiring with the Trump team to dismantle EPA and many safeguards.
Erika Harold said little about the environment, other than to criticize Kwame Raoul for sponsoring legislation ensuring access to justice for people harmed by pollution, and current AG Lisa Madigan for suing the Trump administration over environmental rollbacks, calling such actions “political”. The latter gave Raoul a talking point he used frequently to paint Harold as extreme and allied with Trump.
We’re All In This Together: Building a Bigger Movement to Move Forward Illinois
Sierra Club is committed to building a bigger environmental movement, and join others in advocating for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. This fall we joined with progressive allies to put forward a bold, progressive agenda for Illinois, and together we released a poll that shows that over two thirds of Illinois voters support an agenda that includes equality for all, immigration and criminal justice reform, quality health care, gun violence prevention, access to reproductive health care, and 100% clean energy future for Illinois. We recognize that the future of our environment is inherently linked to the future of workers, civil rights and equality for all, and a more fair and balanced economy. We’re uniting to demonstrate the power of these issues to move voters, and to lay the groundwork for collaboration in 2019 and beyond to enact this bold agenda.