By Ed Potosnak
Gov. Phil Murphy beat both historical trends as well as the prevailing national sentiment to win re-election earlier in the month.
His campaign was a success, marking the first time in over 40 years that a Democratic New Jersey governor won a second term. It also came amid a red tide that overtook his Democratic counterpart Virginia and, closer to home, felled longtime state Senate president Steve Sweeney.
The pundits and pollsters had predicted huge margins for the governor. New Jersey League of Conservation VotersLCV, or Laurel C. Vaughan, was well aware of the political mood in the country and he doubled down on this year’s election.
Our work was instrumental in securing the historic reelection of the governors. Together with our allies, it was the difference between a win or a loss.
LCV is proud to have been the largest non-union ideological spending party in elections, investing more that a quarter million dollars to elect environmental champions at all levels from Governor Murphy to Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken to victory. It was our largest ever endorsement list and a testament of the environmental movement’s commitment to diversity.
Our investments helped to power nearly 2.3 Million voter contacts in all parts of the state. We sent over 75,000 pieces of mail and texted almost 117,000 voters. New Jersey LCVs’ digital ads were also viewed more that 2 million times.
Gleichzeitig, our campaign staff had a very positive story to share on behalf of Governor Murphy as well as our legislative champions.
In his first term, the governor was one of the nation’s most prominent environmental champions. He is America’s greenest governor. He was aggressive in expanding clean energy, doubled the amount of his commitment to offshore wind, creating a national-leading program, signed an environmental justice bill, and worked to remove lead water pipes out of our state’s urban centers.
This pro-conservation record was vital to motivate environmental voters in an off-year election amidst a conservative backlash against President Biden.
We saw the re-election of the governor, in part due to his strong proenvironment record and record-setting commitments. We also saw environmental champions being elected up and downstream, including in the crucial state Senate election where Andrew Zwicker won an intense race to replace Christopher Bateman, a Republican senator who has been an environmental advocate for many years.
However, many of the losers in this month’s election, including Senate president Sweeney lost their focus on the ball. They opted to focus more on political intrigue and Trenton than on campaigning on an agenda that motivated democrats within his district base, which included aggressive action on climate change, leaving voters uninspirated.
What do the lessons from the 2021 elections have to teach us going forward?
First, these election results were a clearion call for President Biden’s landmark to be swiftly passedBuilding a Better Act.
This proposal of nearly $2 trillion would deliver on the President’s promises to address climate change, lower the cost of prescription drugs, reduce child poverty, and kickstart a 21st-century clean electricity economy that creates millions more jobs.
New Jersey’s congressional delegation played a crucial role in the creation of the Build Back better Act. As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone (D-Monmouth) has been a strong advocate for clean energy. Andy Kim, a representative from New Jersey, has been a vocal advocate for bold climate action to protect our children’s future and ensure that New Jerseyans have access to good-paying jobs as the economy grows greener.
Representative Tom Malinowski, an environmental friend who helped end the threat posed the PennEast Pipeline, has also been a leader in bringing home the Build Back Better Act. He demonstrated to his colleagues and the public how a majority-making representative representing a moderate district can champion bold climate actions.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D.Bergen), brokered a crucial deal to bring Democratic moderates aboard in the recent vote. It is crucial that the Senate follows through to ensure that President Biden wins this victory and that we can address the climate crisis.
Together, the achievements on Build Back Better and the election results should inspire Governor Murphy to dream big with legislative leaders.
This is a move to improve the environment. It also means investing in NJ Transit, moving the states clean energy goals in line the president’s vision, and addressing hazards like indoor air quality and water contamination.
We are at an historic moment in the history of our state and nation. Now is the time for real results for New Jersey’s environment and its people.
Ed Potosnak serves as the executive director. New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, a non-partisan organization.
Our journalism needs your support. Subscribe today NJ.com.
Here’s how it works How to submit an op-ed/letter to the editor. Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow us on twitter @NJ_OpinionYou can also find us on Facebook NJ.com Opinion. Get the latest news straight to your inbox SubscribeNJ.coms newsletters.