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GOP Targets 'Clean Coal' Champion Boucher in Virginia Race

Toppling the 14-term Democrat would reshape dynamics of climate and energy in the House

By Elizabeth McGowan

Sep 20, 2010

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Boucher is no stranger to shrewdness. On behalf of the fossil fuel stranglehold on his home district, the Virginia Democrat forced his liberal colleagues to reconfigure the House climate bill until it included tens of millions of dollars for “clean coal” technology.

But that tough bargaining of the past seems almost immaterial now.

This campaign season, Republicans are unleashing a multi-pronged attack on the 14-term Boucher, hoping his “yes” vote on the cap-and-trade bill will persuade voters to support his opponent Morgan Griffith Nov. 2. The GOP evidently sees this as a chance to gain one of the 39 seats needed to become the majority party in the House. 

“It’s purely a political opportunity,” David Jenkins, government affairs director with Republicans for Environmental Protection, told SolveClimate News in an interview. “The Republicans probably agree with Boucher more than they don’t but he’s part of the Democratic majority, so they’re going after him by using his Waxman-Markey vote against him.”

Though polls show Boucher still leads Griffith, the Republican majority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, at least one political handicapper has moved the race to the “toss-up” category. 

As well, observers who delve deep into the political tea leaves know that a Boucher loss plus a Republican majority would add up to a reshaped House Energy and Commerce Committee that is far less muscular on bold climate and energy legislation.

As a senior member of the committee, Boucher serves on two subcommittees, one being Energy and Environment. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., turned the committee into a force of nature in 2008 when he wrested power from Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and called on fellow progressive Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to push the American Clean Energy and Security Act through the House in 2009.

The Latest in Boucher Territory

Boucher represents Virginia’s 9th District, a huge swath of the mountainous southwestern part of the state surrounded by West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.

During last winter’s record-breaking snowfalls in the mid-Atlantic region, the Virginia Republican Party opportunistically equated the weather with climate and skewered Boucher for his cap-and-trade vote.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and a conservative advocacy group called Americans for Job Security are the latest to put Boucher on the spot. The latter's ad accuses Boucher of potentially costing Virginia more than 50,000 jobs and burdening Virginians with higher energy taxes and prices because of his vote to support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in her quest for climate legislation.

Americans for Job Security led all interest groups between Sept. 6 and 12 by spending $1.28 million assailing four Democratic House candidates nationwide, according to a chart in The Washington Post on Sept. 14.

Boucher has countered with his own recently released ad. It features a headline from The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper proclaiming “Boucher is coal’s man.” The ad also highlights Jim McGlothin, founder of Virginia’s United Coal Co., touting Boucher as coal’s best friend in Washington who took on his own party to protect Virginia’s coal interests.

What the Poll Numbers Say

Thus far, prognosticators at nonpartisan forecasting organizations such as the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics via professor Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Web site have categorized the Boucher-Griffith race as leaning Democratic.

But Real Clear Politics is now labeling the Virginia race as a toss-up. That switch is evidently based on a change in polling numbers released by Survey USA. Boucher’s 13-point lead over Griffith shrank to 10 points between mid-July and early September.

Neither the League of Conservation Voters nor the Sierra Club has endorsed either candidate. Boucher environmental voting record has earned him a 69 percent lifetime rating in the scorecard compiled by the League of Conservation Voters. His score for 2009 was 100 percent.

'Green Energy' Congressman faces extinction!!!!!!

'Green Energy' Congressman faces extinction!!!!!!

Before Jerry McNerney became a congressman (CD 11, California), he spent 20 years designing windmill turbines. Since he has been in Congress, he has served on the House Global Warming Committee, and has introduced many pieces of green energy legislation...such as support for solar energy, wind energy, and electric vehicles.

Now, hoards of angry teabaggers are gathering in the area, preparing to take him out!

YOU CAN HELP, with 'the most closely contested congressional race in California!"


Organizing for America is sponsoring a 'progressive' virtual phone bank....every Saturday, all the way up until the election...recruiting, successively, more and more callers each week. We are trying to Get Out the Vote for Congressman Jerry McNerney!

You can make calls from your home!

Because cell phone long distance calling plans are usually very low (and usually free!)...most people...anywhere in California..or the entire country, for that matter...can particpate! We even have a local resident....currently living in France...who feels so strongly about this race, that she is calling all the way from France, to particpate in our weekly virtual phone banks!

You will recieve names, phone numbers, and calling instructions on your home computer.

To sign up, just log onto, under 'Events', select 'Find Local Events' and enter zip code '95207'. Please add your phone number and email to the message, so we can contact you with the details.
(Organizing for America is a project of the DNC)

Follow the money

Interesting to note how the money is flowing here. Without opposing or supporting a candidate (very easy to do in this case) I would suggest this is Boucher (D-Dominion) vs. Griffith (R-Koch).

the flows of money are attributable to party affiliation (note Griffith is getting “Every Republican Counts” money), loyal service to utilities (Boucher) and ability to be total instead of partial impediment to progress on climate and energy (Griffith).

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