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Fossil Fuel Flacks Try - and Fail - to Link Alex Sink's Defeat to Climate Change

3 min. read

In their latest departure from reality, the fossil fuel industry's flacks are now attempting to spin the defeat of Florida Congressional candidate Alex Sink on Tuesday as somehow related to the issue of climate change.  Case in point: James Taylor, "senior fellow for environment policy" at the fossil-fuel-funded, climate-science-denying Heartland Institute, writes at Forbes:

[Republican candidate David] Jolly didn’t even fight back against the constant global warming political onslaught. He never answered the Sierra Club/League of Conservation Voters attacks with a defense of his views on global warming, energy and the environment. He simply let [Democratic candidate Alex] Sink’s supporters sink their political war chest on what turned out to be a loser political strategy. Maybe Sink, despite all her advantages, was unavoidably going to suffer the political upset, anyway. Then again, maybe not. What we do know is a well-known Democrat who had recently served in statewide office lost to a lobbyist running his first political campaign after global warming became the most visible campaign advertising issue in the weeks leading up to the election.

That's the fossil fuel flack's alternate reality. Now, the truth.

First, according to the Washington Post, the Florida Congressional campaign between Jolly and Sink was dominated by the following issues: "Obamacare," Social Security, and the candidates' past jobs. Note that climate isn't even mentioned there. Nor is it mentioned on the Sink for Congress website's issues section entitled "Protecting Pinellas' Land, Water and Air." Also note that a Nexis search on this race for the past month reveals minimal discussion of climate, other than criticism of Jolly for stating, "I don't think the impact that humans have had on our climate is so dramatic as it requires a significant shift in federal policy."

Second, as CNN points out, this was a "swing district in a swing state," represented in Congress by a Republican. Bill Young, for many years. To claim that Democratic candidate Alex Sink lost because of one specific issue that was barely even talked about is quite a stretch, to put it mildly.

Third, polling indicates that "large majorities" of Florida voters "believe that global warming is real and that humans are causing it." Which is exactly what Alex Sink believes, and what David Jolly hedged about. Why would the fact that voters disagreed with Jolly on this issue have made them more likely to vote for him? We're baffled.

Finally, it's worth noting that PolitiFact Florida looked into Jolly's claim that he "'never lobbied for offshore oil drilling," and found it to be "mostly false." According to PolitiFact Florida, "a lobbyist disclosure statement contradicts that, and Jolly said later that he did attend a meeting in which the legislation was discussed even though he didn’t actively lobby for it."

The bottom line here is that Alex Sink lost to David Jolly on Tuesday - by a narrow, 48.5%-46.6% margin - for a variety of reasons, but there's absolutely no evidence supporting the fossil fuel flacks' spin that Sink lost because she held the majority view on climate science.