Montpelier, VT — Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV)-endorsed candidates won an overwhelming majority (84%) of their races on Election Day, including five statewide officers, 20 state senators, and 86 state representatives.
“VCV’s endorsed candidates had a very strong night,” said Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “While we wait for every vote to be counted at the federal level, Vermont voters turned out in record-breaking numbers to resoundingly elect candidates who ran on platforms of action on climate change and racial, social, and economic justice. In these challenging times, voters rewarded candidates who recognize the urgency and opportunity in a green economic recovery.”
Environmentally-focused electoral campaigns* were run in a targeted list of tightly contested House and Senate races. This political action committee activity helped support a slate of candidates who successfully flipped open seats from anti-environment to pro-environment lawmakers, defended vulnerable environmental allies, and unseated incumbents with weak environmental voting records.
Specific activities to help elect pro-environment candidates included sending approximately 82,000 mail pieces, placing advertisements in five local newspapers, running digital advertising that reached approximately 60,000 Vermonters, making phone calls, and texting 12,000 voters.
“We were excited to reach so many voters in a variety of ways this election season – especially in some very tight races where our efforts contributed to key victories for pro-environment candidates,” noted Hierl.
In legislative races, climate champions picked up seats. These included Alyssa Black unseating Robert Bancroft in Chittenden-8-3, Seth Bongartz unseating Cynthia Browning in Bennington-4, and Tanya Vyhovsky winning the open seat from retiring Rep. Linda Myers in Chittenden 8-1.
At the statewide level, environmental candidates scored big. Lt. Governor candidate Molly Gray had a strong victory, running on a platform of rural economic development and resilience; social, racial, and economic justice; and building a clean energy economy. Other incumbent statewide officials who have vocally championed climate action – particularly Attorney General TJ Donovan and Treasurer Beth Pearce – won their races handily, as did Secretary of State Jim Condos, who has worked hard to ensure every Vermonter could safely and easily vote, and that their vote is counted. Auditor Doug Hoffer also won, running on a platform of government transparency and accountability.
Several environmental allies had tight races and appear to have lost their seats in conservative-leaning districts – most notably Speaker Mitzi Johnson from South Hero, whose race is headed to a recount, and Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman from Middletown Springs.
“With strong majorities of pro-environment lawmakers in both the House and Senate, Vermont in 2021 has the opportunity to make meaningful progress on a range of environmental priorities in the coming session,” said Hierl.
This week’s wins build on successful VCV campaign efforts in 2018 to elect an overwhelming pro-environment majority, which proved decisive in advancing clean water funding in 2019 and the Global Warming Solutions Act this year (despite Governor Scott’s veto). Once again, this strong majority of pro-environment lawmakers will be essential to tackling climate change, holding polluters accountable, ensuring clean water for all, and addressing other priorities at the scope and scale these challenges demand, which is particularly important at a time when we anticipate ongoing gridlock at the federal level.
“We are facing simultaneous public health, economic, racial, and environmental crises,” Hierl added. “Vermont voters’ overwhelming support of pro-environment candidates has given our newly-elected lawmakers a clear mandate to tackle these issues head-on. VCV thanks every candidate who stepped up to run, and congratulates all of the winners. We look forward to working together in the coming legislative session to rebuild and recover from the pandemic in ways that create a healthier and more resilient Vermont.”
For a full list of candidates VCV endorsed for the General Election and election outcomes, visit www.vermontconservationvoters.org/elections.
*Electoral activities described here were conducted by Vermont Conservation Voters Action Fund (an independent expenditure political action committee) and Vermont Conservation Voters Victory Fund (a coordinated political action committee).
Since 1982, Vermont Conservation Voters has served as the political arm of the environmental community, working to elect environmental leaders, hold lawmakers accountable, and advocate for strong environmental laws.