Supporters of President Donald Trump routinely reward him for his capability to “tell it like it is.”
Whereas providing an unsettling look contained in the president’s thoughts, this lack of a filter has offered an necessary service to the remainder of the nation: Trump’s racist and reactionary coverage views have pulled the curtain again on what number of Republicans truly view People.
Previous to Trump’s victory in 2016, Republicans sometimes tried to keep away from partaking in the blatant racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and misogynistic conduct Trump has displayed since he started his marketing campaign. However now, with Trump as head of the social gathering, GOP lawmakers have been pressured to come clean with their very own reactionary positions.
Consequently, Republican candidates are scrambling to both defend or distance themselves from the celebration’s coverage positions in their midterm election campaigns. Trump, by being himself, has succeeded in nationalizing the midterms, which means hot-button points like well being care and immigration, not potholes and visitors, are extremely contested debate subjects. Even climate and environmental points, regularly relegated to the back-burner, have made it onto the radar in 2018 because of the administration’s rejection of climate science and assault on environmental safety.
Virginia’s 10th congressional district is a transparent instance of that development. A Trump loyalist, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), has tried to distance herself from the president on sure points, together with climate change. However in doing so, she is making an attempt to painting herself as a unique politician than her record would point out.
“Donald Trump, Barbara Comstock, and their accomplices in Congress have aligned with corporate polluters to roll back environmental safeguards, endangering our health, our communities, and our climate,” Chelsea Watson, an organizer with the Sierra Membership’s Victory Corps, informed ThinkProgress.
Victory Corps, established in 2008, embeds employees in state and federal campaigns to contact voters in help of candidates endorsed by the Sierra Membership.
Watson views Jennifer Wexton, Comstock’s Democratic opponent, as extra than simply an enchancment over Comstock on environmental and climate points. “She is an exciting champion,” she stated.
Comstock, whose voting record on climate points is abysmal, joined the much-maligned Home Climate Options Caucus in June 2017 as a result of she acknowledged voters needed her to be higher on climate points. She is among the many weak Republican candidates who’ve joined the caucus since Trump took workplace.
The caucus has been extensively criticized for admitting Republicans who’re in reality “climate peacocks” — a time period used to explain politicians who need to placed on a show of caring about climate change, with out truly having to comply with that up with motion.
What’s fascinating is that due to the make-up of the citizens in the 10th district, merely becoming a member of a caucus and saying one thing about a problem isn’t sufficient, in accordance with Mike City, government director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
“They’re savvy voters and they expect action from their elected officials,” City stated in an interview with ThinkProgress.
The 10th district is exclusive, not solely in Virginia however nationally, as a result of it’s filled with federal staff. “It’s even easier to nationalize an election in that district,” City emphasised, “compared to metro Columbus and other suburban parts of the country.”
Voters in the 10th district “want elected officials who trust science, who recognize that not only is climate change happening but it’s a threat and a concern and we need to address it,” City stated.
The area doesn’t have any huge polluting industrial amenities, though speedy housing improvement has put a pressure on open area and water provides, particularly in beforehand rural communities that had relied on spring water or nicely water. The area additionally suffers from air pollution issues, primarily on account of car emissions from visitors gridlock that rivals Southern California.
The western a part of the 10th district has seen large improvement over the previous 30 years, speedy progress that contributed to Northern Virginia getting a 3rd congressional district after the 1990 U.S. Census.
With that progress the district is reworking; it was a dependable GOP district that former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) represented for 34 years, however has turn out to be much less of a Republican stronghold over the previous 10 years.
Wexton, the Democratic nominee, has put collectively a robust environmental record throughout her 4 years in the Virginia state senate. The distinction between her environmental record and Comstock’s couldn’t be extra hanging.
Wexton has a 97 % lifetime rating from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters (LCV) for her work in the overall meeting. Comstock, who was first elected to Congress in 2014, earned a 9 % score from LCV for her voting record in 2017. She has a 5 % lifetime rating from the environmental group.
Previous to her election, Comstock served as a political aide to Wolf, who had an unremarkable three-decade profession in Congress. His anti-environment stances weren’t as excessive as Comstock’s, however Wolf nonetheless posted solely a 24 % lifetime rating on environmental points, in accordance with LCV.
“It’s definitely not the same district now as it was when Frank Wolf was in Congress,” City stated.
The district is now residence to numerous knowledge facilities, lots of which try — struggling in some instances — to depend on renewable power to satisfy the majority of their electrical energy demand.
Residents even have expressed concern concerning the development of latest pipeline compressor stations and electrical transmission strains. Extra lately, dangerous air pollution from a proposed manufacturing facility throughout the border in West Virginia has raised the environmental consciousness of many residents in the 10th district.
The district extends from Democratic-leaning japanese Fairfax County to Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick counties — an space that usually helps land conservation. In recent times, nonprofit teams and elected representatives in Loudoun and Fairfax counties have grown extra involved about climate points and the development of fossil gasoline infrastructure.
The district hasn’t all the time been represented by lawmakers with less-than-stellar or outright dismal data on environmental points. Forty years in the past, the district — which on the time coated elements of Northern Virginia nearer to Washington — was represented by an environmentally acutely aware lawmaker who spent a big a part of his profession engaged on the economics of environmental safety.
Joseph Fisher, who represented the district for 3 phrases in the 1970s, spent 15 years as president of Assets for the Future, an environmental and economics assume tank, previous to his election to Congress.
As a lawmaker, Fisher was a robust advocate of funding for mass transit and defending endangered species and clear air and water. Previous to profitable his congressional seat, Fisher served as chairman of the Arlington County board, the place he championed the event of the Washington Metro system.
“He was very proud of the Metro,” Michael Nardolilli, chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, stated in an interview with ThinkProgress.
As a congressman, Fisher voted to defeat amendments that might have minimize off federal funding for mass transit. He additionally supported payments to revive funding for researching photo voltaic and wind power. As well as, he helped create a fund to wash up oil spills. Fisher had an 84 % lifetime rating from LCV.
After dropping to Wolf as a part of a Republican sweep of Congress in 1980, Fisher established the financial coverage division at the Wilderness Society. And together with his departure from Congress, environmental points at each the native and nationwide ranges in Virginia’s 10th district have been ignored by the Republican representatives who adopted.
“Frank Wolf was a pothole politician” who targeted totally on native points and didn’t take many main stands on nationwide points, Nardolilli stated.
Wexton, who might keep on Fisher’s legacy if elected, has advocated for legal guidelines to spur the event of renewable power assets in Virginia, a state that lags behind its neighbors in phrases of bringing renewables on-line.
She launched laws in the state senate to determine community-owned renewable power packages in Virginia. Her invoice, S.B. 1208, referred to as for insurance policies that encourage the possession by clients of group photo voltaic and of different types of distributed electrical era.
Based on clear power advocates, the invoice was defeated because of lobbying by Dominion Virginia Energy to dam genuine group photo voltaic farms. As an alternative, an alternate invoice, S.B. 1393, requiring pilot packages to be administered by the state’s two investor-owned utilities, Dominion Virginia Energy and Appalachian Energy, handed the overall meeting and was signed into regulation in 2017 by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
In 2017, Wexton acquired the Virginia Sierra Membership’s “Environmental Freedom” award for her legislative work on group renewable power.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) is dealing with a troublesome reelection marketing campaign towards Democrat Jennifer Wexton. CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Pictures
Final month, the LCV Victory Fund, the group’s political motion committee, added Comstock to its Home Soiled Dozen Listing. Throughout her time in Congress, Comstock has taken greater than $200,000 from polluting industries whereas voting to dismantle environmental protections, in accordance with the group.
In 2017, Comstock launched a invoice that might overturn Virginia’s offshore drilling ban, placing her at odds with each Democratic and Republican lawmakers who symbolize districts alongside the Atlantic coast.
That very same yr, Comstock voted for an modification that may have lowered the EPA’s price range by about $1.9 billion, in line with Trump’s finances proposal, which was finally rejected by Congress.
Natalie Pien, an organizer with 350 Loudoun, pointed to Comstock’s “terrible environmental record” throughout her two phrases in Congress. 350 Loudoun is lively on climate change points in the guts of Virginia’s 10th congressional district.
Nevertheless, in an e mail to ThinkProgress, Pien famous that Wexton — as with many elected Democrats in Virginia — declined to take a place on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, though she did vow to not take marketing campaign cash from Dominion Power, the lead developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
“All in all, I think Wexton will be a significant improvement over Comstock,” Pien stated.
Watson agreed. “This year, with just a little over a decade left to avoid the worst effects of climate disruption, we don’t have time for more rollbacks, we need action,” he stated. “We need climate champions like Jennifer Wexton in Congress who will stand up to Trump and corporate polluters and protect our clean air, clean water, and climate.”