California State Senate leader Kevin de León has authored visionary climate bills and shared the California success story at global climate talks, while helping to organize the resistance to Trumpism. Now he's running to bring that leadership to the U.S. Senate—and he's refusing to take Big Oil's money for his campaign. The decision to issue a Climate Hawks Vote endorsement was made with the backing of over 1,000 Californian members of Climate Hawks Vote who voted in a survey, and the results came back nearly 2:1 preferring de Leon to Feinstein.
Kevin de León is a climate hawk, using his powerful position atop the California legislature to push that state’s visionary climate policy. In 2014, he authored Charge Ahead, the law offering rebates to low income Californians to help put 1,000,000 electric vehicles on the road. In 2015, he authored and got passed SB 350, requiring California to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and SB 185, requiring California’s giant pension funds to divest from coal. And he traveled to the Paris climate talks to explain the California success story to international leaders. This year, he authored SB 100, calling for California to get 100 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2045 – that bill comes up in January 2018.
Kevin hasn’t only been authoring smart bills—he consistently speaks out for climate justice. Eight freeways criss-cross his downtown Los Angeles district. Smog, soot, ozone – Kevin knows that climate pollution is a matter of public health. Kevin de León came from humble beginnings – his mother cleaned houses – and his career in public service, from organizing pro-immigration rallies against Proposition 187 to organizing working class folk for better pay, has been dedicated to speaking out for all of us. In 2012, he authored and passed legislation that requires 25 percent of all cap and trade funds to benefit low income communities. He’s repeatedly passed bills creating new city parks, because nearby green spaces make tangible differences in people’s lives.
And Kevin has signed a pledge not to take money from oil companies for his campaign. California is actually one of the biggest oil producers in the nation. Big Oil has been pumping millions of dollars into California politics for years, intensifying its reach since California began prioritizing climate action. Kevin is putting his trust in grassroots support, not Big Oil money.
This won’t be an easy race – incumbent Feinstein has personal wealth and a powerful political machine. But it’s the kind of fight we need to win if we’re going to make the Democratic Party responsive to climate hawks – by backing one of our own over a long-time incumbent.
Dianne Feinstein is meh on climate in comparison to Kevin de León. She doesn’t have a track record of introducing strong climate bills. Her biggest accomplishment on conservation was her first piece of legislation, the Desert Protection Act of 1994. She hasn’t served on the energy or environment committees. Nor has she been outspoken on the Senate floor – compare her reserved image with that of Barbara Boxer, who served alongside her in the Senate from 1993 to 2017 and who regularly sparred with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). On our exclusive climate-leadership scorecards covering 2011 to 2015, Feinstein consistently scored 20 points behind Boxer—her “meh” is measurable.
And California has moved left since Feinstein was first elected in 1992, back when the Golden State was a purple state that routinely elected Republican governors. Feinstein hasn’t moved with California. She has voted for more than half of Trump’s nominees – and she votes with Trump nearly a third of the time, even though he lost California by 30 points. She still thinks Trump “can be a good president.”
The decision to endorse wasn’t made lightly. Over 1,000 Californian members of Climate Hawks Vote voted in our endorsement survey, and the results came back nearly two to one for de León over Feinstein.