Above, aspiring Republican Senate candidate. Could he be headed for disappointment?
Last week’s Senate’s sideshow vote on “whether Climate Change was real” seemed a bit lame to me, and the results useless. But with tentative, but continued trial balloons on the issue from several Presidential aspirants, I think it does fit that there is a sense of unease in the GOP, heading into the ’16 election, that the party is poorly positioned – in an area that is clearly coming into its own, and will only fester.
Indeed, years of hostility and neglect may already have left the party permanently damaged in the estimation of future historians, if there are any.
E &E News:
“We had a chance to vote, and people cast the votes they believed in,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who voted for the amendments offered by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). “That’s all it amounted to.”
But others noted that Republican Senate leaders evidently saw an upside in giving GOP members the chance to go on the record now, after many have used the “I’m not a scientist” line to studiously avoid doing so for years. Now their votes declared that climate change is real and industrial greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to it.
Those who follow Republican climate messaging say that at least some of the amendment supporters were motivated by political considerations. Seven of the 15 Republicans who voted for one or both of the amendments — and Hoeven himself, who voted against his own amendment for strategic reasons — are up for re-election next year. Several are running in blue and purple states where President Obama won handily in 2012. And Hoeven’s own office has acknowledged that his amendment — which held that man-made emissions are driving climate change without qualifying that impact as “significant” — was intended to give cover to some of his GOP colleagues.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), two of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election next year, voted for both the Hoeven and the Schatz amendments — the latter of which stated that human emissions were a “significant” climate driver. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who are also running in swing states, backed the Hoeven language.
David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, said that the pivot appeared to be calculated.
“It seems like there is sort of this recognition that the Republican message on climate needs to change,” he said.
Jenkins saw last week’s votes as part of a continuing evolution in the Republican message on warming — which started with denial that warming of any kind is occurring, moved through noncommittal statements about the role human emissions play, and has now arrived, for some, with an acknowledgement that man-made climate change is real.
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