In The New York Times on Thursday, I write about an unusual alliance between California financiers and environmental justice activists to reach minority voters who they believe will be key in defeating Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would suspend the state’s global warming law:
The fight over Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative that would suspend the state’s landmark global warming law, has spawned some unusual political alliances. Mainstream environmentalists, venture capitalists, labor unions, tech chieftains and even some Republicans have all made common cause to oppose the measure, which is backed by two Texas oil companies.
Now activists who work on behalf of poor communities afflicted by pollution and some of California’s top financiers have come together in an effort to bring minority voters to the polls on Nov. 2.
At a recent fund raiser at the waterfront offices of Sungevity, an Oakland, Calif., solar company, hedge-fund managers and other well-heeled investors sipped cocktails and mingled with inner-city activists in the hope of raising $1.9 million for a turn-out-the-vote campaign that will target nine counties with large populations of African-American, Asian and Latino voters.
“There is something kind of strange but great that there are environmental justice activists mixing with entrepreneurs and financiers who are all committed equally to building this clean economy that can lift all boats,” Danny Kennedy, Sungevity’s co-founder and a former Greenpeace activist, told the crowd.
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, known as A.B. 32, mandates that the state’s greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposition 23 would suspend the law until the state unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, a rare occurrence in recent decades.
“How voters of color vote on Prop 23 will be the margin of victory or defeat on this,” Roger Kim, executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, an Oakland-based group, said at the event. “As little as three percent of the vote may make the difference.” (Mr. Kennedy’s wife, Miya Yoshitani, serves as associate director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.)
A Field Poll released on Sunday showed Proposition 23 opposed by 45 percent and favored by 34 percent of respondents, with 21 percent still undecided. Latino voters supported the ballot measure 41 percent to 38 percent while African-American and Asian voters opposed it 41 percent to 34 percent. A Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll published on Friday found the initiative supported by a slight margin, 40 percent to 38 percent.
“Let’s talk about why people of color especially matter in this campaign,” Thomas F. Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management, a $20 billion San Francisco hedge fund, and co-chairman of the “No on 23” campaign, said in a speech at the fund raiser. “And it is true that the swing vote if you look at it may well be people of color. And that’s definitely important and we need to definitely to win this so I don’t want to downplay that.”
You can read the rest of the story here.