The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has endorsed a gubernatorial candidate for the first time in its history.
That candidate was Governor Dannel Malloy, who was selected last week after a bipartisan board — composed of retired legislature members, environmental advocates, business and legal professionals — interviewed both him and challenger Tom Foley in the week leading up to the endorsement. The CLCV’s status as one of two 501(c)(4) environmental organizations in Connecticut allows it to endorse a candidate in this election. The other environmentally-focused 501(c)(4) in Connecticut, the Sierra Club, also announced its support for Malloy’s gubernatorial bid on Sept. 28.
“It was very clear to our bipartisan board that Governor Malloy far and away deserved the endorsement,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the CLCV.
Brown added that, while the CLCV classified Foley as someone who might be amenable to working with environmental groups in the future, the Republican candidate would not immediately commit to specific environmental policy plans.
Martin Mador ’71 FES ’02, the legislative and political chair for the Sierra Club’s Connecticut chapter, said his group chose to interview only Malloy because of its experience with the candidates in the 2010 race. Four years ago, the Sierra Club interviewed both Malloy and Foley, and Foley said then that he thought Connecticut would not be able to effectively counter the effects of climate change. According to Mador, this answer convinced the organization to invite only Malloy for a return interview.
Mador added that Malloy’s ability to establish a strong environmental legacy in his past term as governor — citing his decision to incorporate the Department of Environmental Protection inside the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection — made him the preferable candidate. Mador said this move helped streamline energy policy within the state government. However, the endorsements of environmental groups may not be enough to sway voters, he added.
“Are people going to vote for Malloy just because he’s strong on the environment? I don’t think so,” Mador said.
He also said that voters for whom the environment is a priority would probably have voted for Malloy anyway.
Benjamin Martin, a representative of 350 Connecticut, a 501(c)(3) environmental organization, said that while it cannot formally endorse a candidate, the group would be more eager to work with Malloy than Foley.
“Given the choice that we have, Malloy is not as bad as Foley, but I would say it’s a shame that we don’t have candidates that take climate change as a higher priority,” Martin said.
Martin added that the organization was particularly disappointed with Malloy’s support for expanding natural gas — which he said can be a key driver of climate change because of its extraction process — as an energy source in Connecticut.
“[Malloy] has said we’re not going to ignore the environment [to fix the economy]. He does have good environmental values, and we appreciate that,” Mador said.
The gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 4.