Campaign Season Activities

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As election season picks up steam, one of our goals is to make sure Congress takes action on climate so that we can reach the science-based target of reducing our emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.  We also want to encourage candidates to generally support strong bipartisan national climate legislation.

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/topics/congressional-in-district-activities
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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 climate action that is ambitious enough to achieve the goal of a 50% reduction below 2005 emissions by 2030. 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.  Regardless of your member’s stance on specific climate policy, we need them to hear from their constituents that climate action must be a top priority now and throughout the remainder of this Congress.  See the “Get voters to ask candidates and elected officials for climate action” section on the Developing Your Chapter Action Plan training for recommended strategies to bring candidates the message that voters want more action on climate.   

2022 Senate and House Candidate Guidelines

The short story: This year, when it comes to asking candidates questions, the focus should be on the need for significant climate action rather than specific policies. Demonstrating widespread support for climate action will motivate and encourage candidates to engage on the topic instead of solely responding to the nuances of one policy or another. 

The political landscape on climate has changed completely from the last presidential election. The good news is that climate change is now a top tier issue.   When you interact with candidates, you can encourage them toward general support for climate action to achieve the goal of a 50% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, 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 can start or continue educating the winners on the specifics of how to achieve that 2030 goal.

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. Read more tips on getting the most out of town halls or candidate forums in our training on Attending Town Halls and Candidate Forums. Get ideas for questions to ask from this list of sample Town Hall Questions or visit the sitewide forums to see and discuss what others have shared.

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. Check the candidates campaign website and social media and sign-up for their newsletter and press release distribution list to stay informed on their priorities and upcoming events. You can start cultivating people they would trust as messengers as you find out who they are. 

You can also find your state's important primary dates with this National Conference of State Legislators site. (The primaries are used by political parties to determine the candidates who will run for all partisan offices in their states on the general election).

We encourage you to attend on-line, telephone and in-person (where it's safe) events and engage via social media, and if you have success stories please share them with your state and regional coordinators and on our forums such as: Sharing Your Campaign Season Activities. 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.

 Look for people or other local non-profit organizations who may be useful in reaching your current or possible future member of Congress. Learn about 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 specific legislation we support. 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 an online meeting or phone call. 

Some events will encompass both parties and some will be held by just one party. Ideally, left of center CCL volunteers will participate in Democratic events and right of center CCL 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. 

Remember to put your health first as we see how the pandemic continues to unfold. 

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.  For more information, see the Planning A Joint Virtual CCL Meeting With Your Member Of Congress training. If one candidate, incumbent or non-incumbent, is invited to speak at your meeting, all candidates should be invited to avoid a campaigning event. 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, endorse or organize for individual candidates or political parties. We work to build political will for a livable world and strong climate action to reach the goal of a 50% reduction in our emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. 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. As individuals, you are encouraged to participate in our democracy and our elections in whatever way you would like. Read more tips on what you can do in the “And what about our democracy?” section of the Developing Your Chapter Action Plan, including registering to vote and helping others participate in our elections. 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.
 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 (if one candidate is invited, they all should be invited).  
  • 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.
 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)

Working With Incumbents
(3:21)

House & Senate Guidelines
(6:14)

Staying Nonpartisan & Bipartisan
(12:19)

Activities To Avoid
(17:44)

Instructor(s)
  • Todd Elvins
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Audio length
Press play to start the audio (23m 31s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline

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

Overview & Agenda
(from beginning)

Working With Incumbents
(3:21)

House & Senate Guidelines
(6:14)

Staying Nonpartisan & Bipartisan
(12:19)

Activities To Avoid
(17:44)

Instructor(s)
  • Todd Elvins
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Category
Training
Topics
Lobbying Congress
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