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Campaign Season Activities

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Congratulations! Thanks to your incredible work, this is CCL’s first election ever with a bill in Congress! And, before the pandemic, it was the first time in more than a decade that climate change is a major campaign issue and something that every candidate finds necessary to talk about. Now with most public attention shifted to the pandemic, our goal for this election year is to make sure climate remains a top priority, encourage candidates to generally support strong bipartisan national carbon pricing legislation, and continue building local community support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. We want to enter 2021 in the strongest possible position, no matter the outcome of the elections.  

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TOC and Guide Section
 
Top Priority: Work with Incumbents and keep building support

Continue working with your incumbent members of Congress as you have been, even if they are retiring, to increase their support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Despite the considerable distraction of the elections, they still represent you and vote on legislation through the end of the year, including the lame duck session after the election. They need to keep hearing from constituents, and especially new voices from different demographics in the district, based on your research and understanding of who your member of Congress trusts. 

2020 Senate, House, and Presidential Candidate Guidelines

The short story: This year, when it comes to candidates, less is better. 

The political landscape on climate has changed completely from the last presidential election. Climate change is still a top tier issue in 2020, even with COVID-19 dominating the news. It used to be very hard to get candidates to talk about climate change, and that is totally different now--in both parties. Democrats are talking about which climate plans to pursue, and many Republicans are talking about how innovation will help us address climate change. In addition, we are functioning in a highly polarized political climate, and things that we have done in the past might not work for us the same way they have in previous election years.

We are steering away from asking candidates (who are not currently in office) to support H.R.763. If Democrats make H.R.763 a campaign priority, they will be pulled to use it as a wedge against their opponents, which will make it harder after the election to build bipartisan support for the bill. Republicans are unlikely to support it publicly because they don’t yet see enough support in their party to make it something they would want to campaign on, and may perceive that it is safer to publicly oppose it.

So this election season we aren’t suggesting going to candidates, including presidential candidates, to start educating them on the bill. Instead, when you interact with them, you can encourage them toward general support for carbon pricing, and toward working across the aisle so that something can actually get passed. You can tell them why you are concerned, personal stories of how climate change is impacting you, people you love, or your community and how much you want them to commit to real solutions to the problem. Once the election is over, you’ll start or continue educating the winners on the specifics of our bill. 

This same advice applies to asking questions at town halls or forums. We want candidates, especially on the right, to know that the public and members of their party want action on climate. Phrase your question in the language of their party and make sure to appeal to and educate the audience. For example, you might talk about risk management when you are talking to Republican audiences. As above, share a bit of your personal story and ask them to commit to enacting solutions to the problem. 

And plan for the future! Candidates need to make themselves known to voters, so you can learn a lot about them. Make notes on their personal stories, biggest issues, major supporters, and who they are trying to appeal to as they campaign. You need to know what is important to your future member of Congress, and they are busy communicating that in many ways throughout the campaign. You can start cultivating people they would trust as messengers as you find out who they are. 

Traditional campaigning has been disrupted by the pandemic, but in-person candidate events, if they do happen, can offer great opportunities to talk to lots of your fellow Americans. Much more of this year’s campaigning is likely to happen virtually, and it is still unclear how best to participate in such events. We encourage you to attend on-line events and engage via social media, and if you have success stories please share them on our COVID-19 forum. As you participate online and in social media, watch for people who appear to be influential with your candidate and consider striking up a conversation with them over social media. Start now to build a relationship with the people who can influence your future member of Congress.

If in-person campaigning does happen in your area and you judge it safe to attend, it could be a chance to meet interesting and active people at these events, including local elected officials. While respecting social distancing, mingle, strike up conversations, and ask for business cards from people you want to follow up with. Look for people who may be useful in reaching your current or possible future member of Congress. Find out their interest and level of concern about climate change and a bit about who they are, and then gradually introduce CCL and our goals into the conversation. As always, tailor your interaction to where they are. Someone already alarmed about climate change may be ready to quickly dive into the solution offered by our legislation. But, in many cases, the best course is to start a conversation by asking them about their views and concerns and build enough of a relationship through listening to them so that they will be interested in connecting with you for a meeting or phone call. 

Always ask for their business card or contact information so you can take the initiative in following up with them. Bring your own business card so they can remember you, but never rely on them taking the first step afterward. Get their contact info!

Debates and forums, picnics and parades, and party conventions are all places where you can mingle and start relationships. Some of these events will encompass both parties and some will be held by just one party. Ideally, left of center volunteers will attend Democratic events and right of center volunteers will attend Republican events. If you attend any event, especially fundraisers, as a supporter of a particular candidate, remember that you are there as an individual who is concerned about climate change, not as a representative of your CCL chapter. Your CCL chapter cannot pay for you to attend a fundraiser for a candidate. 

Additional Resources

Staying Nonpartisan and Bipartisan in Campaign Season

Whatever you choose to do during election season, remember always that CCL is both nonpartisan (we do not engage in partisan politics or endorse candidates) and bipartisan (we work with people from both of the major parties). If your current member of Congress asks to speak at one of your meetings, you are welcome to have them attend, though you should discourage explicit campaigning. If non-incumbent candidates ask to speak at your meetings, you should politely decline to avoid a campaigning event (though you could have a one-on-one or small group meeting with them to build the relationship). Whatever activities your group engages in should be evenhanded toward all candidates. If you have any questions about what events to attend or what your ask should be, please reach out to your Regional Coordinator or to CCL staff.

  1. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonpartisan organization. During electoral campaigns, we have the opportunity to connect with individual candidates on the issue of climate change, while being clear that we do not support or organize for individual candidates or political parties. We work to build political will for a livable world, and our preferred policy recommendation is a carbon fee and dividend plan. We know that only by securing support from a significant number of elected officials from both of the major parties will our plan become law.
  2. In the context of an election, parties and candidates like to draw distinctions, and they may seek to use the climate issue as a way to disadvantage their rivals. Our role is not to help them do this. It is to demonstrate support for climate action and carbon pricing from voters, and perhaps especially to Republican candidates.
  3. As individuals, you are encouraged to participate in our democracy and our elections in whatever way you would like (see info on voter registration below). However, if you are widely seen as a CCL leader in the community, you might want to consider how your individual activities, including on social media, will impact how you and CCL are seen. People may not be able to distinguish your partisan work from your nonpartisan role in CCL. And, whenever we are wearing our CCL hats, we need to act in ways that are consistent with our goals and values. We need to act during campaign season in ways that leave us well positioned to work with whomever wins the election.
New Activity: Voter Registration

We like to say that democracy is our solution to climate change, so promoting participation in our democracy fits our mission. We’ve provided an online service (TurboVote) where you can register to vote, find out how to vote by mail, and get reminders about voting. We encourage everyone in CCL to use this service and then share the link (cclusa.org/vote) with friends and family to make sure they are all registered and ready to vote. Be aware that registration requirements vary from state to state, and this is not an area where CCL has expertise so please use the TurboVote link above to avoid any issues. It’s important not to accidentally break any local election laws! 

 Activities to Avoid

  • CCL chapters should not endorse any candidates or participate in partisan campaign activities or events.
  • CCL chapter meetings should not be used to spread campaign materials or advocate for candidates or provide a platform for a candidate to speak (current MOCs are welcome but should not be explicitly campaigning).  
  • CCL chapters should not attack candidates. They may become your future members of Congress. They are likely to remain community leaders, and it’s not consistent with our core values and CCL’s policy of respect, gratitude and appreciation.
  • In previous years when it was hard to get climate change discussed as an election issue we suggested some activities to focus on climate change, but with the prominence of the issue this year and the deep polarization, we think your time is better spent on our core activities. Specifically we don’t recommend organizing your own candidate forum on climate change or trying to insert climate change legislation into party platforms. Focus on outreach, community education, building grasstops support, and town halls instead. 
 What if one of our CCL chapter members is running for office?

CCL cannot endorse a specific candidate, but volunteers, as individuals not associating themselves with CCL, are free to help in any way they wish.

If you have a CCL volunteer running for office locally, then:

  • Continue to act consistently with CCL’s policy of respect, gratitude and appreciation for public service toward all candidates.
  • Work with them as they step back from CCL if in a leadership role within the CCL group.
  • Supportive chapter volunteers should be mindful of the impact of their visible support in our nonpartisan lobbying.
  • Consult CCL staff and your regional coordinator if you are uncertain about particular activities.
  • Candidates are free to talk about CCL but not claim they are endorsed by CCL.
  • CCL welcomes all candidates as volunteers and/or supporters.

We are at an exciting time for CCL, and we are only here because of your dedication and advocacy. Please reach out to your State or Regional Coordinator with any questions you may have as we build political will for a livable world during this election season.

Length
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https://vimeo.com/album/5418469
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Overview & Agenda
(from beginning)

Background
(2:56)

Working With Incumbents
(5:08)

House & Senate Guidelines
(8:59)

Staying Nonpartisan & Bipartisan
(12:42)

Activities To Avoid
(16:08) 

Instructor(s)
  • Adeline DeYoung
  • Don Addu
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Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (20m 33s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline

To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Overview & Agenda
(from beginning)

Background
(2:56)

Working With Incumbents
(5:08)

House & Senate Guidelines
(8:59)

Staying Nonpartisan & Bipartisan
(12:42)

Activities To Avoid
(16:08) 

Instructor(s)
  • Adeline DeYoung
  • Don Addu
Discussion Topic
To Print
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Category
Training
Topics
Lobbying Congress
Format
Audio / Video, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx)