Congressional races present terrific opportunity for CCL lobbying efforts

By Jim Hooton, Colorado State Co-Coordinator

For years, Colorado CCL volunteers have diligently lobbied our existing Members of Congress and their staffs. Between meetings in the District and in Washington DC, we try to be in touch with every office two to four times a year. With this re-election season upon us, the Greeley chapter is leading the way to expand CCL’s efforts beyond incumbents to reach out to candidates from all parties for these seats.

The strategy recognizes that building relationships with a Member of Congress is a journey that should start as soon as they put their hat in the ring. While seeking office they may be more open to being educated and influenced on complex issues like climate change, and especially carbon fee and dividend. We also hope to amplify our own public outreach by finding candidates that support our policies. Ideally, these supporters will include our policies in their stump speeches and town hall Q&A responses.

This is an especially ripe election season for CCL candidate outreach. The most recent federal census led to Colorado being awarded an eighth Congressional seat. As an open seat that is the most politically competitive district in Colorado, Congressional District 8 (CD8) has attracted a large number of candidates from both parties. Thirteen candidates initially were in the hunt, and there are still five people seeking the office. CD 8 is in the northern suburbs of Denver along the Front Range. Major cities in the district include: Brighton, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster in Adams County, as well as Firestone, Frederick, Greeley, Johnstown in Weld County.

The Greeley chapter, located in CD 8 and led by Mike Weiland, has seized the opportunity to influence this open seat. The candidate outreach team, which also includes Sharon Kendall, Pauline Migiliore, Olof Bengston, and Dan Edwards, began communicating with candidates in November of 2021. Since then, the team has had five candidate meetings. They met with all four Democratic candidates, and had a staff meeting with one of the leading Republican candidates, Barbara Kirkmeyer.

The meetings are having results, too. Two of the four Democrats supported the policy and Kirkmeyer’s staff person listened carefully and agreed that climate change is real. Progress comes in steps!

The CD 8 race is now entering a new phase. After last month’s County Assemblies, only one Democrat, Dr. Yadera Caraveo, remains in the race. Weiland characterizes her support for carbon fee and dividend as “enthusiastic.”

Four Republicans will appear on the June primary ballot. And the Greeley team is undaunted. They continue to email or call them weekly to try to set up a meeting. CCL will be heard!

Other Colorado CCL chapters also plan to conduct candidate outreach as well. In the race to replace Congressman Ed Perlmutter in CD 7, Golden Group Leader Phil Nelson reports the chapter will be reaching out to the leading candidates, Democrat Brittany Pettersen and Republican Tim Reichert, in the next month. The Durango chapter team plans to revisit their candidate outreach plans for CD 3 after the primary in June.

Take Action: Contact your Chapter Leader to see how you can participate in candidate outreach meetings. The more they hear from us, the more we can influence them.