GOP Donor To Spend $175 Million To Make Republicans Care About Global Warming

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A major Republican donor is taking a page out of liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s book and joining with environmental activists to convince GOP lawmakers to take global warming seriously.

Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman, made a fortune selling his company SnapAV. Now he plans on using that fortune to change how Republicans talk about global warming. Faison has joined with left-wing environmentalists to start a nonprofit to promote “market-based” solutions to global warming.

“I always felt a little alone out there as a Republican, and so I started ClearPath to create a dialogue around this in a way that hadn’t been done before and sort of be part of the solution,” Faison told Politico. “We think that there are real Republican solutions to the problem.”

Faison will unveil a $40 million campaign Tuesday “through 2016 to persuade moderates and conservatives to join the fight against climate change,” according to Politico. He is also spending $10 million to create a campaigning arm similar to President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action or Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

“There’s a lot of center-right Republicans that feel like they don’t have a voice in this issue, and surveys would say they’re eager to share this information to bring other people along with them,” Faison said. “Even in small percentages, that’s in the millions.”

In total, Politico reports Faison is planning on pumping $175 million into creating a GOP that wants to impose policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Politico reports that Faison will target “ local markets and specific demographics, such as Roman Catholics and politically active Floridians, by using advertising, social media and news outlets” and will also pump money into so-called free-market groups that support carbon taxes, like the Niskanen Center and R Street Institute.

Faison has started the ClearPath Foundation to promote his global warming agenda, but will his big spending spree work?

This is certainly a story we’ve heard before: a big political donor starts his own activist group to push an agenda.

The most recent example is how San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer spent millions backing Democratic candidates and environmental campaigners in the 2014 election, but achieved little in the end because Republicans regained control of the Senate.

Steyer spent about $75 million in the 2014 cycle, trying to keep Democrats in control of the Senate, backing key races in seven swing states in the 2014 cycle. Steyer’s activist arm, NextGen Climate Action, worked hard coming up with ads (many not even talking about global warming) to beat Republicans, but they had little effect and the GOP went on to take Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina.

Steyer failed to galvanize Democratic and independent voter support in 2014, despite Democrats being much more concerned about environmental issues than other voters. This could mean Faison is in for an uphill battle.

Pro-carbon tax Republican groups argue that getting Jeb Bush behind tackling global warming would be a good way to get the GOP to take the issue seriously. Jeb, however, has come out against policies to reduce greenhouse gases that hurt the economy and don’t involve the global community.

The only GOP candidate so far to take a strong stand in favor of tougher global warming policies is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” Graham told CNN. “I do believe that climate change is real.”

Unfortunately for Faison, Graham is polling is in the single digits — at 1.3 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

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