Setting his sights on Republicans who reject climate change, an environmentalist billionaire is unveiling plans to spend $100 million this year in seven competitive Senate and gubernatorial races, as his super PAC works to counteract a flood of conservative spending by the Koch brothers.
NextGen Climate Action said it plans to spend at least $50 million contributed by founder Tom Steyer, a retired hedge fund manager and longtime Democratic donor, and another $50 million the group is seeking to raise from likeminded donors. The money will be used to back Democrats and attack Republicans running for Senate in New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan, and for governor in Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine.
"Our goal is very clear: to impact the politics as it relates to climate in a time period that will result in policies that allow our country and the world to avoid the perils of climate change," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist advising the super PAC. "In a sense, it's a race against time."
With Democrats on the defensive this year in races across the country, Steyer is pursuing a two-pronged goal: helping Democrats keep the Senate and capture governor's mansions, and elevating climate change as a make-or-break issue for voters. That effort comes despite the fact that Democrats are fighting most of their toughest races this year in conservative, oil-dependent states where even Democrats are seeking to fashion themselves as friendly to energy industry.