Green Groups Back Grijalva . . . Again


Tomorrow’s Massachusetts senate vote to replace John Kerry is a ho-hum affair, with Rep. Ed Markey (D) predicted to win a double-digit victory over political new-comer and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez. It’s the downstream effect of Markey’s win that’s more perplexing to watch.

In a show of group-think that few but environmentalists could engineer, 178 organizations have written Nancy Pelosi to endorse Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva for ranking minority member of the House Natural Resources Committee, a position Markey now holds and, of course, would have to give up when he moves to the Senate.

The enviro letter mimics an earlier campaign that asked President Obama to appoint Grijalva as Secretary of Interior; a campaign that began before then-incumbent Ken Salazar had even announced his departure. Obama passed over Grijalva, choosing REI CEO Sally Jewell for the post.

For any who thought the Grijalva-for-Interior initiative was a longshot (e.g., I), consider the odds against his promotion to ranking minority member. Standing prominently in the way is Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio, who as the second-ranking Democrat currently on the committee has the inside track to succeed Markey. Mr. Grijalva, by contrast, is currently the committee’s 6th-ranking Democrat.

Belying its title, seniority is not everything when it comes to choosing the ranking minority member. But, it counts for a lot. The Democratic Policy and Steering Committee makes the decision, which is based on such things as merit, length of service on the committee, seniority, commitment to the party’s agenda, and diversity. Mr. DeFazio serves on the Policy and Steering committee; Mr. Grijalva does not.

Grijalva’s bid is the longest of long shots. In no other House committee is the ranking minority member as relatively junior a member as is Grijalva.

In a House controlled by Republicans, environmental groups count few friends in leadership positions. Pissing off one of the most senior Democrats in a naive, shoot-the-moon tactic ensures even fewer.

30 thoughts on “Green Groups Back Grijalva . . . Again”

  1. The great thing about De Fazio is that he votes for his constituents, instead of his political party. He knows what is going on, cuts through partisan blather and is willing to compromise for the greater good. AND, he gets re-elected time after time, by his rural constituents.

      • Few, if any of those counties could be considered “urban”. Medford is certainly not like Portland, politically. It gets harder and harder to overcome partisan bias, in this “you’re either with us, or against us” political world. Bi-partisanship gets more done than political intolerance. For some, the endorsement of those green groups is a strike against Grijalva. And, certainly, De Fazio isn’t going to endorse more clearcutting and highgrading.

        Edit: Walden’s dominance in eastern Oregon make De Fazio’s totals in rural counties that much more impressive. A Democrat getting 45% of the vote in rural counties is quite significant. I feel that a bi-partisan approach is better than one slanted to the desires of these green groups.

        • I’m well aware that Curry County, Douglas County, Josephine County and Linn County are not considered “urban.” They are largely very rural counties….and DeFazio lost those counties, despite your claim that DeFazio ““gets re-elected time after time, by his rural constituents.” Thanks.

          • If he didn’t get those rural votes in Republican counties, he’s never get elected. Walden was getting 70-80% of the rural votes, over his Democratic rival. Vote totals win elections, and not county wins. He cannot help it if people in Eugene will vote for ANY Democrat. I’m very sure that there is a “grassroots” Republican group that would very much like to boot him out of Congress. Last time I looked, a Republican vote for a Democrat still counts as one vote. He got quite a lot of those.

    • Larry: You and I have different perspectives on DeFazio. He has been widely characterized as an urban liberal, with Eugene as his voting base. Most rural Oregonians in his district have suffered mightily the past 25 years — in large part because of poor (even adversarial) Congressional representation. Maybe he’s had a change of heart, but his record is clear. Rural areas have suffered grave biological and economical consequences under his representation, and with little obvious effort on his part (at least to this point) to reverse that trend. Wyden’s welfare payments have done little to really help these counties, and now they are disappearing, too.

      • Well, of course, De Fazio is going to vote the Democratic party line, when it doesn’t affect his voters too much. It would be interesting to see what Eugene liberals think of his preference of active forest management. He has little control over how young college folks vote. Both Eugene and Ashland have kneejerk anti-Republican slants. When you try to be more in the “middle-of-the-road”, you end up getting attacked from both sides, sometimes. You cannot please all of the people all of the time but, I think it is worthwhile trying, sometimes.

        Would you rather have Grijalva, Bob? Is there another Democratic darkhorse you might prefer? Possibilities seem rather limited on this issue, and sometimes we need to pick the one better candidate.

        • Larry: I have a pretty jaundiced view of politics, so my preference probably isn’t worth considering. I don’t care if its Betty Ford, Barak Obama, Jimmy Carter, or Grijalva — I doubt much happens except a lot of money getting spent and numerous committee meetings being held, keeping everyone “really busy.” What single positive thing involving the management of our nation’s forests, water, wildlife, and cultural and natural resources has been developed politically in the past 25 years? I’m sure there are a couple of examples, but nothing is really sticking out in my mind.

          Morse and Hatfield were real leaders that I respected and was proud to have represent my State, whether I agreed with them or not; DeFazio and Wyden are career committee goers with an eye on retirement in New York or New Zealand. And they have great retirement plans already in place that we pay for, so their plans have worked great.

          Walden is the only politician that I have seen in Oregon this past generation that has truly represented rural families and communities, and has actually authored and passed important forest management legislation. Unfortunately, getting legislation passed and getting it implemented are two different animals. First there’s funding, and then the hungry gauntlet of waiting lawyers when funds do come through. The end result is things still don’t get accomplished.

          So my honest answer is I really don’t care who gets what position or what their name is. I don’t think it matters (at least so far as my personal interests are concerned).

  2. Yep, Andy, environmental groups should just sit silently by and say nothing, right? Or are you saying they should rally to support someone (DeFazio) that they don’t support (for a variety of great reasons)? Either way, just seems to me that you don’t like that 178 green group have spoken out professionally and politely for the Dem Congressperson they think would do the best job as leader on the committee.

    Anyway, all your seniority stuff aside, the last time Democrats chose their leader on the committee they selected the best candidate for the job – Rep. Ed Markey – not the person with the most seniority.

    • Matt: My admittedly aged memory recalls that no Democrat on Natural Resources was senior to Mr. Markey when he was selected as ranking minority member. Mr. Rahall had left Natural Resources for another committee. Who are you thinking of?

  3. Other than his recent attempts on managing BLM O and C timber lands, I can’t imagine why the enviros have any deep animus towards Pete Defazio who has long been their stalwart in the House.

  4. Here’s a link to my previous post… about Grijalva’s much-touted “report”. There are two possibilities a) he doesn’t really care about facts, or b) he trusts the wrong people to give them (they are not giving him facts, based on my knowledge and the published report). Since “they” are likely to be the same groups, they seem to be simply saying “he accepts whatever we tell him, we want this guy.”

    I’m with the others who think bipartisan work is the only way our country is going to dig ourselves out of our various holes. Apparently these 178 “groups” prefer a different route.

    I think Greg asks an interesting question. If they stab folks who support them in the back when the opportunity presents itself, why would that be a successful strategy for dealing with D’s? It’s also a bit peculiar because the grassroots groups (at least as described in Bevington’s book) pride themselves on not being part of the power structure, including the D party. All very confusing to us observers.

    • Yes, Sharon, perhaps these “178” “groups” have been watching the “happens” in the Congress of the “USA” and have come to some sort of a conclusion about “bipartisanship.” And yes, of course, writing a professional and polite “letter” expressing your support for a member of Congress getting a leadership position on a committee is “exactly” the same thing as “stabbing folks who ‘support’ them in the back when the opportunity presents itself.” Jiminy christmas…..all very “confusing.”

      • If that is all they did with an innocuous letter, I can’t see the problem, not as if Grijalva has much of a chance anyway given his seniority. Big deal, Defazio will get the slot anyway.

        Oh and by the way, Defazio’s support in those rural republican counties almost all comes from the numerous dems who live there too. No matter what Pete does most republicans will not vote for him. The fact that so many voted for the absolute maniac who ran against him shows how little support he will ever gain from them.

        • Thanks Greg. I agree with your assessment of DeFazio….That’s been my observation as well. I only brought up the verified 2012 election results to counter what I thought was some misinformation contained in Larry’s statement that supposedly DeFazio “gets re-elected time after time, by his rural constituents.” That belief doesn’t seem backed by election result numbers from those rural counties. Anyway….

          • chuckle, even after pete’s vigorous efforts to boost the cut on BLM O n C lands, he still lost those rural SW oregon counties by as large a margin as usual. No surprise there, two of those counties are also looking at state intervention to salvage their grievously underfunded public sector after voting down tax measures to maintain county sheriff patrols.

            • Hmmm….Could it be, perhaps, that some of those “178” “groups” didn’t much like “Pete’s vigorous efforts to boost the cut on BLM O n C lands?”

              I’ll also say that the LCV scorecard is as rigged to get a desired outcome as any other legislative scorecard from groups like NRA, etc. When the scorecard is being constructed much care is given to make sure that votes or co-sponsorships are measured in the scorecard to improve the scores of certain members of Congress….while much care is also given to make sure that votes or co-sponsorships are not measured in the scorecard if those things negatively impact the scores of certain members of Congress. Of course, the reverse of each of these scenarios is true too.

              • the letter they sent for grijalva was but a sly indication to Pete that they are peeved at his O n C efforts, a political ploy, he gets the message of course. I can’t imagine it will go anywhere although Wyden will chime in with another proposal, Andy kerr did a really good analysis of what can be gained by increasing thinning of plantations and at the level they are cutting now in SW Oregon, they are at the max for those. In the PNW the gifford pinchot affords the best prospects for boosting harvest with those thinnings.

                I was told that Pete;s proposal would boost the total cut by only 300 million bf, not enough to salvage those counties with incredibly low tax levels in SW Oregon.

                I did find it fascinating to read what andy stahl said awhile back about how the oregon harvest in cubic feet is higher now than it was before the NWFP, although board foot harvest has declined

                I get on a plane to east africa in a few hours, amusing to be talking about this now.

                • But I’m sure that he knew they were peeved (not supportive) already… we learned in one of our Forest Service management trainings “affirm in public, counsel in private.” Ahh.. politics.

                  • Again, these groups sent a letter supporting Rep Grijalva. The letter included lots of reasons why the groups support Rep Grijalva. The letter didn’t mention Rep DeFazio once. The letter simply stated that these groups support Rep Grijalva for the position. So not sure the Forest Service management training, apparently about how to carefully manage the way things appear to the public, has any bearing or relevance on this particular situation.

                    • Of course, those groups expect a “return” from their investment, methinks. I wonder if the groups’ endorsement is actually a hindrance. The Obama Administration seems to want to stay away from ideologues, preferring people who will at least have the appearance of bi-partisanship, tolerance and the ability to compromise.

      • OK, Matthew maybe I skipped some logic steps.. here observations were based on behavior.

        Observation 1.. The Report is full of inaccuracies and an untruth or two. the text is R’s are bad and do wrong things. That does not seem like a good background for someone to work with other parties. That is why I concluded what I did about the Congressman. He seemed more interested (based on this document) in anti-R rhetoric than in reality or problem-solving.

        Observation 2. DeFazio supported environmental positions. I don’t know the details of this but assume that our Oregon bloggers are correct. Now, the 178 groups’n’ individuals supporting someone else for that job, if I were he (DeFazio), might be seen by me as a lack of confidence in my ability by them. But what would I have done to cause that lack of confidence (this would be mostly directed to the local groups on the list?). If I had been listening to you and respecting your opinions, why would you support someone else?

        Perhaps “stabbing in the back” is too strong an expression. I have never been in politics, but if I thought someone supported me and went on record as supporting my competitor, it would probably lead to a lack of trust on my part with regard to further dealings with them, iif not a permanent relational rupture.

        That’s what I find so interesting about human behavior in Political World.

  5. Oops.. some of them seem to be individuals and not organizations, except in the sense that individuals are organizations of cells. I do hate to be pedantic, but I wonder if the 178 total includes them…

  6. I figured that he did the BLM thing for mostly political reasons to gain some support in those rural areas but in spite of that, his support is always weak there no matter what he does. I do wonder what he really thinks, and heck, i wonder what andy thinks of the whole BLM proposal spear headed by Pete.

    • Greg Nagle :
      i wonder what andy thinks of the whole BLM proposal spear headed by Pete.

      Andy Stahl ran for Lane County Commission (and lost) as a supporter of the so-called timber “trust.”

      Sorry I don’t “trust” the timber barons, since their clearcuts are visible from space and their helicopter spraying of poison is a violation of basic human rights (the right not to be forcibly poisoned against our consent, we all breathe downwind).

      DeFazio’s real constituents are the timber companies and the highway construction contractors, he will be a good fit for chairing the “resources” committee. With Democrats like DeFazio, we don’t need Republicans to support shredding the environment,

  7. The League of Conservation Voters skews their scores to make sure Democrats look good.

    DeFazio is a fan of clearcuts, burning forests for electricity, massive highway expansion plans and even is promoting the NuScale company of Corvallis, which seeks to make new nuclear reactors.

    DeFazio gets the liberals in Eugene and Corvallis. Most of the rest of the district does not vote for him. Ashland is not in his district, they’re part of the Eastern Oregon district.

    The Republicans know they’re not going to defeat DeFazio.

    It’s nice to finally see some environmental groups express dissatisfaction with our Congressman for Life DeFazio. It’s long overdue.

    • Yep, THIS is what happens when politicians try to be more bipartisan. When lawmakers try, they get attacked from BOTH sides! It is no wonder that so many of them cling to the gridlock of partisan politics. I doubt that “timber barons” currently have much say today in pushing for clearcuts “visible from space”. Has there been any of them, on Federal lands, in the last several years, under Obama?

      • A few years back, the timber barons were pushing for a land exchange to swap their clearcuts for BLM forests under the guise of consolidating a fragmented land ownership pattern. That encountered a lot of public objection and didn’t happen.

        DeFazio’s privatization of the BLM federal forests would give our public lands to private corporations, he is giving them an enormous gift at our expense. Once, it was only Republicans who campaigned for this sort of privatization. Democrats and Republicans are playing a “good cop, bad cop” game. They are two sides of a Mobius strip.

        The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.
        — Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time
        (one of Bill Clinton’s teachers at Georgetown)

  8. andy has done some really good work over the years, much more than most enviros i know and just because he supported the trust with Defazio, makes neither of them industry stooges. Andy won a few very important law suits , or perhaps you are not aware of that? I should let him speak for himself. Does his recent stand on BLM eliminate all his contributions over the decades?

    I think andy could argue you into the ground on that issue but he chooses which fights to take on.


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