Billionaire Promises to Sink GOP Climate-Change Deniers in Florida

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

New studies emerge by the week illustrating how Earth's climate is changing. Sea levels are rising, and the only real question is how quickly and whether low-lying regions — like, you know, the entire state of Florida — will have enough time to save themselves. The only significant group that seems to be tone-deaf to that reality is, alas, one of America's two major political parties.

Of all the major contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, only New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seems moderately open to the facts of manmade climate change. Now a billionaire environmentalist is pledging to spend whatever it takes to defeat climate-change deniers in Florida and four other presidential swing states.

Tom Steyer, a massively wealthy California hedge fund manager, formed a PAC called NextGen Climate with one goal: to make climate change a central campaign issue. 

To that end, he spent heavily in Florida's last gubernatorial race — without much success in sinking climate-change doubter Rick Scott's chances. But Steyer says he has learned from that experience and announced yesterday he'll re-up NextGen's spending for the presidential cycle by concentrating on vulnerable swing states such as Florida.

“We are going to take swings at a number of candidates that are throwing us hanging curve balls on a regular basis,” Chris Lehane, the PAC's chief strategist, told reporters during a conference call

Among those candidates, without a doubt, are Miami's power couple, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. 

Before launching his de facto run for the White House, Bush has tried to walk a fine line of not quite denying climate change. Here's what he said in 2011:

"I think global warming may be real... [but] It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view."

Rubio has been far more vocal. Last year he said flat-out that he doesn't believe scientists who say manmade climate change is real. Here's his quote from an interview on ABC's This Week:

“I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate... Our climate is always changing. I don’t know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable."

Steyer didn't specify how much he'll spend on ads highlighting the GOP's climate stance in Florida, but Lehane told reporters it would be significant.

“Whatever Tom is going to spend, again he has made it clear he will spend what it takes," he said.

There could be some early fireworks in Miami. Steyer's staff also hinted during the call that they might try to disrupt Rubio's official presidential campaign announcement next week at the Freedom Tower

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.