MN350 Action endorses four climate champions in high-profile Minnesota races
July 21, 2020
MN350 Action today announced its endorsement of U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar for the Minneapolis area; State Senate candidate Jen McEwen for the Duluth area; State Senate Candidate Michelle Lee for the Pine County area; and State Senate Candidate Jon Olson for the Le Sueur County area. These endorsements bring to 18 the total number of climate champions who have received the environmental group’s endorsement in this pivotal election year.
Before the 2018 midterm election, MN350 Action endorsed 12 candidates in Minnesota, 11 of whom won their races. This year, the group is receiving requests every week from candidates at every level for its endorsement.
“Minnesotans of all backgrounds have always held a deep love for the lands and waters we call home,” MN350 Action organizer Mike Rollin said. “Some politicians are realizing that protecting the environment for future generations of Minnesotans is a priority issue for voters all across the state. They know being endorsed as a climate champion by our organization demonstrates a serious commitment to fight for climate justice.”
A Washington Post analysis published in April 2020 revealed that seven counties in Minnesota have warmed more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, a rate about twice the global warming average. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have testified to lawmakers that these rising temperatures could lead to an increase in heat related deaths, the loss of boreal forests and more frequent flooding in the state. A record high 64 percent of voters nationwide now believe protecting the environment should be a top policy priority, according to Pew Research, indicating that climate change is a priority issue in the election.
Candidates for the group’s endorsement are asked about climate, transportation, agriculture, mining, and housing. Rep. Omar, who is the first Somali-American woman to hold elected office from Minnesota and is running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, expressed a commitment to centering racial, economic and gender justice in her work on climate policies. “We must take an equitable approach by prioritizing access to renewable energy for these communities and ensuring that renewable energy is affordable for all,” Omar said. “It’s also crucial to work with localities to prevent the building of new oil pipelines and other infrastructure harmful to communities and Indigenous lands.”
McEwen is a former public defender running in Minnesota Senate District 7. Her campaign emphasizes fighting homelessness and she said guaranteeing new living-wage jobs in the renewable energy sector is an important part of the transition away from fossil fuel dependence in her district.
Lee, who previously worked as a broadcast journalist and is running in Minnesota Senate District 11, supports efforts to transition Minnesota to 100 percent clean electricity by 2050. She said she believes Minnesota is a leader in the development of new technologies, standards and practices and that legislation to support those innovative efforts must continue.
A Naval veteran and former chair of the board for environmental non-profit Metro Blooms, Olson is running in Minnesota Senate District 20. He said he has talked to farmers in his district and believes incentives should be given to those who practice regenerative agriculture methods.
“This year has been filled with unprecedented crises,” Rollin said. “More than ever, we need bold leaders who will fight for solutions that meet the scale of the challenges we are facing. That’s why we are rallying behind candidates who make addressing the climate crisis in a just manner a top priority. We know they will work to create an abundant future where all Minnesotans can thrive."