Greens Defeat Pombo By Running from Green Issues

Statement of National Center Vice President David Ridenour on Claims that House Resources Committee Richard Pombo Was Defeated for Relection Because of His Stance on Environmental Issues

: David Almasi
(202) 507-6398 or [email protected]
For Release: November 13, 2006

There's a line between political spin and outright deception.

Environmental organizations crossed over that line in their post-election analysis of House Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo's re-election defeat.

Defenders of Wildlife and the League of Conservation Voters, among other environmental groups, want people to believe that Mr. Pombo's defeat was a referendum on his environmental record.

As a Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen noted in a press statement, "Pombo's defeat... serves as notice that extreme anti-environmental positions can be an extreme liability on the campaign trail."

But Mr. Pombo's environmental record wasn't discussed much on the campaign trail.  Although Green groups committed millions to defeating Congressman Pombo, they gave environmental policy the metaphoric equivalent of the Heisman (named after the famous Heisman Trophy pose).

While Pombo's efforts to fix the Endangered Species Act, overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act, and promote U.S. energy independence by opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to environmentally-responsible oil exploration came up during the campaign, they were largely incidental to the Greens’ efforts.

Instead of focusing on these issues, the Greens’ commercials and other campaign material focused -- largely unfairly -- on Pombo's ethics.

Those fed up with Washington scandals found in Pombo a convenient target and took their frustrations out on him.

Other incumbents -- including those who have been staunch allies of the Greens -- were swept out of office for the same reason.

Rep. Jim Leach, who received a mere 27 percent rating from the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) -- kind of the antithesis of the League of Conservation Voters -- lost re-election.  So too did Lincoln Chafee (LPPV rating: 33), Nancy Johnson (LPPV rating: 36), Sue Kelly (LPPV rating: 18) and Michael Fitzpatrick (LPPV rating: 36).  Are we to believe this was a referendum on their environmental positions, too?

No.  Richard Pombo and these other members did not lose on environmental issues. 

As for the power of environmentalists and their message...

The only way environmentalists can win is through issues other than their own. As long as that’s true, they’re not winners.  They're losers.

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