COLUMBIA, SC – Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) had its most successful political year to date, racking up a 100% success rate of endorsed candidates in contested general election races and spending over $173,000 on election activities in 2016.
The bipartisan, statewide conservation organization endorsed 51 candidates for state legislative offices through the 2016 primary and general elections, including 31 Republicans and 20 Democrats. When primary and general election outcomes are combined, CVSC-endorsed candidates had an 82% success rate in 2016 elections overall.
Contributing to the organization’s success was the significant increase in political resources from prior years. CVSC’s political expenditures more than doubled as the nonprofit spent over $173,000 in campaign expenditures and candidate contributions. Prior to 2016, CVSC’s largest historical election year expenditures were approximately $70,000.
With this significant increase in political resources, CVSC launched its first-ever field office, hired 13 paid field staff, knocked on over 30,250 doors, made over 12,000 phone calls, and sent over 230,000 pieces of mail in support of its endorsed candidates throughout the state.
Among CVSC’s most significant victories was that of Senator-elect Scott Talley over Senator Lee Bright in the Republican primary in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. Bright was listed among the 12 most anti-conservation legislators in the country by the national League of Conservation Voters through their “Dirty Dozen in the States” list. Aided by this national partner, CVSC raised over $90,000 to defeat Bright. A majority of CVSC’s field activities this year were focused on this race – with the group knocking on over 21,000 doors, making over 7,500 phone calls, and sending over 120,000 pieces of mail in support of Scott Talley’s victory.
CVSC also highlighted general election successes, namely Senator-elect Mia McLeod’s victory in the race for the open Senate District 22 seat vacated by Senator Joel Lourie. Conservation Voters sent mail, made phone calls, and knocked on doors to help Senator-elect McLeod on her path to a 5,000 vote victory in the race. The organization also worked to re-elect Senators John Courson (R) and Nikki Setzler (D) to the Senate and Reps. Gary Clary (R), Shannon Erickson (R), and Robert Brown (D) to the House. Jason Elliott and William Cogswell, new Republican Representatives from Greenville and Charleston, were also supported by CVSC in both the primary and general elections. A full list of CVSC-endorsed candidates and their election results is available at cvsc.org/elections/endorsements/.
Celebrating their electoral success in 2016, CVSC Executive Director John Tynan shared, “Our candidates’ success in the primaries and general elections show that leaders and voters within both parties care about clean air, clean water, and clean energy. Our work has helped continue building a bipartisan conservation majority. We are proud to support those who will fight for the South Carolina we love and look forward to working with them and others in the upcoming legislative session.”