‘This is How We Win’

Racine-Kenosha chapter makes inroads with Sen. Johnson

By Ross Astoria

I want to tell you about my most recent “lobbying” experience (“lobby” is in scare quotes because I consider CCL the anti-lobby). Melissa, one of the members of the local Racine-Kenosha Chapter in Wisconsin, forwarded me an email (she had received it from one of the big green groups) announcing that Senator Johnson’s staff was holding office hours at the local library in a couple of days. “What do you recommend?” she asked. “Suit, tie, revenue neutral carbon tax,” I replied. We invited one of the local interns with the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, Brett, and planned to meet 10 minutes early to game plan.

I’ve been to CCL’s national conference three times, have had face to face meetings with Representative Paul Ryan, and have been published numerous times in the local paper, but I always get nervous before a meeting – usually while I’m ironing my shirt beforehand (the only time I iron my shirts, btw). At least this time we were on our home field. Senator Johnson’s staff had reserved the very same room in the very same library where we sometime hold our monthly CCL meetings.
I expected there would be hundreds of people who would want to meet with the aides, and that there would be dozens of aides to handle the onslaught of citizens who had but a single hour to voice their concerns. Since Senator Johnson had recently been the subject of some attack ads, I thought some protestors might show too. In total, six people came and there was a single aide, who drove in from the Milwaukee office. One fellow was there to talk term limits, two others were there on the prompting of the League of Conservation Voters, and Melissa, Brett, and I. To make the math simple: five of the six people there were there to talk climate change, which we did with the usual CCL and EEI respect, openness, and expertise.
I walked away thinking: this is how we win, by means of a billion little things all piled together; when every aide, for every member of Congress, whenever they hold mobile office hours, hears of the urgency of acting on climate change from a multi-partisan constituency and is presented with a common sense solution. We’ll need a home run before we get there, but bunts, patient at bats, walks, and stolen bags are going to win this game.
I later learned that when a different Senator Johnson aide held mobile office hours in Iowa County, WI, she got the same CCL reception, only this time everyone there was there to talk revenue neutral carbon tax.
Sounds like a base hit to me.
Ross Astoria is the group leader for the Racine-Kenosha chapter of CCL.


Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.