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Tom SteyerFor the 2014 midterm elections, billionaire Tom Steyer is gunning for Republicans. His ammunition? Climate change.

Steyer is being painted as the anti-Koch, a rich liberal who is willing to donate at least $50 million of his own cash to make climate change a central issue in seven battleground states. This makes him the diametrical opposite of the Koch brothers, who want nothing more than to keep climate out of the conversation (or at the very least denigrate it as baloney), according to Al Gore.

But Steyer is not financing this climate crusade from his (admittedly deep) pockets alone. His political action committee, NextGen Climate, will be raising funds across the United States to produce an unprecedented wave of awareness.

“We are not a traditional ‘super PAC,’ where we are going to spend some money on television and leave,” says Sky Gallegos, political director of NextGen. “We are looking at creating a long-term conversation with voters…. We want to talk to them and make a real connection of how climate hits them at the household level.”

To make that real connection, NextGen will focus on putting climate change in context.

In Idaho, a severe drought has endangered its agriculture. NextGen will ask voters if they want a candidate that will make this an essential issue or one that will continue to favor global warming policies. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott says he isn’t convinced climate change is real, even while the southern half of his state braces for unprecedented flooding. NextGen is going to be all over that – as well as Scott’s early reluctance to sue BP for its gulf oil spill. And the PAC has similar plans for climate deniers in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine and New Hampshire.

Steyer, who is one of President Obama’s wealthiest fundraisers, has gone all out for this policy push.“We are not going to be talking about polar bears and butterflies,” says Chris Lehane, Steyer’s lead political strategist. “We are going to be talking about how this issue of climate impacts people in their backyards, in their states, in their communities.”

Now the only question is, will all of this money and effort bring liberals to the ballot box? We’ll find out in November.

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  1. […] Chris Lehane suggested that the speech was a crucial first step in appealing to climate-focused voters. The annual energy conference “has become one of the must-stops for someone who wants to talk about their climate and energy environmental credentials,” he said. Lehane served in both the Clinton administration and the Gore campaign and is now a strategist for billionaire climate advocate Tom Steyer. […]

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