The Mark UP

Who Is Cleaner in the Wisconsin Senate Race?

Here is the second post in our new series profiling the clean energy and environmental stakes of some of the downballot races this election year (Be sure to check out the first post on the Warren-Brown matchup in Massachusetts). In today’s post, we’ll compare the records and rhetoric of the candidates for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin, Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.


On both rhetoric and record, Baldwin can only be considered one of the most pro-environment Members of Congress. She can boast a 97% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, which has endorsed her in this year’s election. She is one of our Clean Air Heroes for voting against all 13 dirty air bills that have come before the House this year. She has consistently voted to support our bedrock environmental laws from the Endangered Species Act to the Clean Water Act.

As a member of the House’s top energy committee, Baldwin helped lead the way to House passage of a comprehensive bill to address climate change in 2009. She has sponsored legislation to improve energy efficiency and help consumers track the carbon pollution embedded in the products they buy. And she doesn’t mince words when it comes to the seriousness of the climate crisis:

“If we fail to act, the consequences we are already beginning to see will multiply. The volatility of our climate, including floods and droughts, severe weather, and temperature extremes will result in the loss of human lives, increased susceptibility to disease, the extinction of species of animals and plants, destruction of ecosystems, and increased social conflict.”


During his brief 2007 run for President, Thompson was well within the GOP mainstream on climate change. His campaign website said that the United States “must aggressively take on global warming—a goal that can be accomplished in a manner that doesn’t provide false choices between environmental stewardship and economic progress.”

What a difference five years makes. In an era of Tea Party ascendency, in which the House has voted 315 times to roll back environmental protection, Thompson has changed his tune. His new campaign website never mentions climate change or any of its synonyms. Instead, it focuses on continuing our dependence on dirty energy by building the Keystone XL pipeline, opening new areas to oil and gas drilling and expanding “fracking” for natural gas.

Tommy or Tammy?

The choice in Wisconsin is clear. One candidate wants to address climate change and put our efforts and investments into clean energy. The other has turned his back on our planet’s greatest challenge in an effort to win support from the polluters who are funding attack ads on his behalf. Who will the voters choose?