Inside the Beltway

by Myron Ebell on November 1, 2010

in Blog

Elections: Running from Cap-and-Trade

Campaigns often become annoying as election day approaches, but they do have the benefit of sucking all the energy out of Washington.  Congress has been out for a month to allow Members to campaign, and even the agencies tend to go silent just before an election for fear that announcing some new rule or policy could become a damaging campaign issue.

But when Washington springs alive again after next Tuesday, it will be a city transformed by the election results.  Even if the rout of House and Senate Democrats occurs precisely as predicted (minus 50 House seats and 7 Senate seats is the average guess; here is a typical forecast), it will all look and feel different after it has happened than in anticipating it.

While the reactions to big election swings are often surprising, one thing that is absolutely clear already is that cap-and-trade has been a significant issue in the campaign and that cap-and-trade will be totally dead after November 2nd.  Every Republican incumbent and challenger is running against cap-and-trade.  Most are running against global warming alarmism.  House Democrats who voted against the Waxman-Markey bill are featuring that vote in their campaigns.  Only a handful of the more than 200 Democrats who voted to pass Waxman-Markey in 2009 are even mentioning it in their campaigns.

Cap-and-trade is especially potent as an issue in coal country.  In West Virginia, it has become so toxic that Governor Joe Manchin (D) revived his Senate campaign against John Raese by running a television ad in which he shoots a copy of one of the Senate cap-and-trade bills.   Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV)), the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, voted against Waxman-Markey, but is now in the race of his life against a challenger, Elliott Maynard, who is scoring points with voters by arguing that Rahall’s opposition was weak and that he in effect supports cap-and-trade because he voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is in even worse shape in his nearby district in Virginia.  Boucher put the interests of his party ahead of the interests of his coal-mining district when he made a deal and rounded up the votes necessary to pass Waxman-Markey on June 26, 2009.  In 2008, Boucher didn’t have a Republican opponent.  This year Morgan Griffith appears to be running a very close race. Boucher’s loss would send an unmistakable signal to congressional candidates in energy-producing and energy-using manufacturing districts for many elections to come.

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