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August 15, 2012

Victory in Hawaii! Tulsi Gabbard Wins On the Environment

Tulsi gabbardWhile billion-dollar dirty energy companies are spending and saying anything on TV ads and PR campaigns to convince you otherwise, Americans care about protecting our planet and our families from toxic pollution. Recent polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans agree that developing clean energy should be a priority for the President and Congress, while more than 75 percent want the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The American people get it - and so do many of the people running for elected office. But to win, they often have to face off against the political allies of big polluters, backed by Big Oil and Big Coal's seemingly limitless bank accounts. That’s why the Sierra Club invests resources and mobilizes our members and supporters to help elect true environmental champions in competitive races to help fight back. For the last few weeks, that's exactly what we’ve done in Hawai’i in support of Tulsi Gabbard - and we’re excited to congratulate her on a well-deserved victory on Saturday night in the Democratic primary race in Hawai'i's Second Congressional District.
Gabbard is exactly the kind of candidate the Sierra Club is proud to support. At age 19, Gabbard co-founded the nonprofit Healthy Hawai'i coalition to protect watersheds and the health of local communities and families. She personally led the volunteer cleanup effort at city beaches after flooding at a local landfill released dangerous medical waste. As a city councilor, she wrote and passed a new law to keep plastic bags from polluting Honolulu’s coastal waters. As a Captain and Company Commander in the National Guard, she volunteered to deploy for two tours of duty in the Middle East. All told, Gabbard’s got the record and the experience to be a true champion for our families and our environment who will fight for clean air, clean water, and clean energy jobs in Congress.
A few months ago, Gabbard started the race 40 points behind in the polls to Mufi Hannemann, the well-known former Mayor of Honolulu notorious for an abysmal environmental record.  Hannemann consistently stood on the wrong side of the issues, opposing recycling programs, stopping wind projects, giving contracts to big campaign donors, and refusing to act to prevent serious environmental catastrophes. One thing was clear: Voters had a clear choice on the ballot - and they deserved to know the truth about the records of the candidates.
That’s where Sierra Club’s supporters and volunteers stepped in. As Gabbard and her campaign worked to spread the word about her strong record of standing up to protect local communities and families, the Sierra Club invested significant resources to ensure Hawai’i voters knew how Gabbard’s record stood out from the field. We contacted tens of thousands of voters and ran radio and online ads to ensure as many people as possible were informed about the clear choice in the race between an environmental leader and more of the same.
It worked. On Saturday, Hawaii voters spoke loud and clear, giving Gabbard a 20-point victory. It's exciting news because it means a true environmental champion is one step closer to serving our country in Congress. Whether we’re discussing her record to preserve Hawai'i's watersheds and improve the health of local communities and families, or her work as a city councilwoman and state legislator, Gabbard will take her fight for the environment on to Washington.
Beyond that, Gabbard's win sends a resounding message not just to politicians in Hawai'i, but to elected officials around the country. Both polls AND election returns show voters care about protecting their communities and our planet - and they’ll support candidates who stand with them in that fight.
People want a representative who will stand up to special interests, not court them. They want a leader who will work for clean air and clean water, not ignore them. And they want clean energy jobs, not big polluter excuses. Tulsi Gabbard will be a leader in each of these fights, and the Sierra Club is immensely proud to have helped her along the way.

-- Courtney Hight, Sierra Club Deputy Political Director

Paid for by Sierra Club Independent Action, www.sierraclub.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee


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