John Hickenlooper’s Victory Proves The Politics Of Climate Have Changed, Coloradans Demand Bold Action on Climate

Washington, D.C. — John Hickenlooper’s victory tonight shows the politics of climate have changed.

This sea change comes as Coloradans have felt the full wrath of the climate crisis in their daily lives. Between the state’s record-breaking wildfires, a global pandemic, and economic uncertainty, Coloradans faced the impacts of the climate crisis on their health and safety this year — spurring voters to support pro-climate action candidates in Colorado. 

“Climate was on the ballot and tonight Coloradans chose science and bold action over denial and inaction. Senator-elect Hickenlooper will move Colorado toward a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future by investing in clean energy and listening to science. Voters across the state issued a mandate for Hickenlooper to join the U.S. Senate as a pro-climate champion who would bring about real action to combat the threat of climate change,” said Meghan Schneider, a spokesperson for Climate Power 2020. 

Climate action played an outsized role in the political debate throughout 2020, and Hickenlooper emphasized the urgency and severity of the climate crisis throughout his campaign, saying in a July ad: “Climate change is, without a question, the greatest threat to Colorado’s environment, our economy, to our way of life.”

The importance of taking immediate, bold climate action is among the reasons voters rejected Cory Gardner, who never offered a plan to address the climate crisis during his six years in office. By siding with the Trump administration and voting against climate proposals, Gardner fought harder to support Big Oil than he did to defend Coloradans’ right to clean air, clean water, and public lands. 

John Hickenlooper made plans to combat climate change a key pillar of his campaign: 

  • Hickenlooper committed to investing in clean energy jobs that would reduce emissions while creating good-paying union jobs.
  • In a July campaign video, Hickenlooper said: “We have an opportunity and the obligation to reorient our economy around clean energy. I think what we have accomplished in Colorado, should be the national model for the rest of the country. And then we have to do more.”
  • Hickenlooper also laid out a plan to transition to 100% renewable energy, with net carbon zero emissions by 2050, which is projected to create six times more jobs.
  • Hickenlooper said he would enforce stricter standards on methane pollution and other harmful emissions, building upon the work he did as governor of Colorado, to protect the rights to clean air for all communities. 

The climate crisis played a significant role in the race as Hickenlooper put Gardner on defense for siding with the Trump administration’s climate denial.

  • Outside groups, including the Senate Leadership Fund, ESA Fund, and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign, and the two campaigns spent more than $9.2 million on climate-focused television ads during the final weeks of the election, with Hickenlooper spending more than $4.4 million to speak with voters directly on his climate, energy, and conservation efforts.
  • Climate made history this election after presidential and senatorial debates featured serious climate questions that pushed all candidates to detail their action plans. 
    • Colorado was no exception. Climate change was brought up in all four Colorado senatorial debates this year, and Hickenlooper repeatedly emphasized the economic benefits of climate action, while Gardner unsuccessfully attempted to greenwash his anti-environment record.

Ad totals are based on figures from Advertising Analytics covering September 1, 2020 to November 3, 2020.