We are less than 20 days away from the June 9 primary elections. In the next few weeks, campaign signs will pop up on nearly every street corner, your mailbox will overflow with campaign literature, and TV, radio, and social media platforms will be flooded with candidate ads.

We know that a lot has been going on. We know you’ve likely been distracted with COVID response issues and the resulting economic impacts. And we know that sifting through all of the campaign spin can be hard.

That’s where we come in.

At CVSC, we know that elections have big consequences. In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, we know that the public health implications of our conservation work have never been more front and center. Folks who breathe dirty air or drink dirty water are more susceptible to COVID and other public health threats, so we must do everything we can to protect the environment and public health.

That’s why CVSC has been working to identify those candidates who will work to uphold the core environmental protections that ensure we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a legacy of protected lands to enjoy. We need more leaders who know that a clean environment and vibrant economy go hand-in-hand, who will work tirelessly to protect the air, land, and water that South Carolinians love, and who will fight to ensure we have healthy, pollution-free communities across the Palmetto State.

Through this work, we’ve identified a bipartisan group of candidates from across the state who are committed to protecting the South Carolina we love. So, as you’re doing your research before heading to the polls or mailing in your absentee ballot, we wanted to let you know about a few key CVSC endorsements this cycle. You can check out our full endorsement list (as of May 20) at this link to see if your district is included.

Here are a few races that you should pay attention to:

Open Seats: From CVSC’s perspective, the biggest opportunities this cycle are in open House and Senate seats. Engaging in open races (where the incumbent isn’t seeking re-election) is a great way to strengthen our conservation majority and identify new conservation champions.

We’ve made endorsements in two open Senate seats so that we can add to our champions in this critical chamber:

  • Vernon Stephens is running in the Senate 39 Democratic primary, including portions of Berkeley, Calhoun, Colleton, Dorchester & Orangeburg. A former school board member, a retired plant manager, a farmer, and an active clean energy advocate, Stephens is well versed on conservation policies and will be a strong advocate for clean energy and citizens’ rights to a clean environment.
  • Michael Johnson is running in the Senate 16 Republican primary in Lancaster and York Counties. As Chair of County Council, he’s seen the impact of rapid growth on our land and water and has worked to strike a balance between economic growth and protecting our quality of life. Once elected, he’ll bring this perspective to Columbia as we work together to advance clean energy and increase land protection efforts across the state.

We’ve also made endorsements in 4 open House races in Clemson, Spartanburg, Summerville, and Charleston. Here are two quick highlights:

  • In the District 109 Democratic primary in Charleston and Dorchester Counties, we’re backing Deon Tedder - an attorney who cares deeply about the environment, coastal flooding, and climate change. He has the energy and passion to be a tireless leader on these issues and more in Columbia.
  • In the House District 3 Republican primary in Clemson, Jerry Carter is running to bring a pragmatic Upstate voice to conservation discussions in Columbia. Formerly serving as head of an engineering association, he understands the importance of environmental protections and the role of government in protecting public health and safety. He takes environmental stewardship seriously and will be a strong and effective ally once elected.

Contested Races: CVSC is also working to bring new, energetic leadership to a number of key House districts:

  • In Anderson County, we’ve endorsed Vaughn Parfitt against Rep. Jonathon Hill
  • In Spartanburg, we’re backing Chris Bennett against Bill Chumley
  • In Richland County, we’ve thrown our support behind Jermaine Johnson against Jimmy Bales.

Winning in these areas will bring new, energetic leaders to the House who recognize the value of common sense conservation efforts. They each share our understanding that protecting our natural resources is one of the best economic investments we can make in South Carolina. And they’ll replace under-performing House members who have all scored below 45% on our most recent conservation scorecard.

Defending Champions: The backbone of building a conservation majority in the General Assembly is defending our bipartisan champions from primary challengers.

That’s why we’re backing folks like Reps. Marvin Pendarvis (D) and William Cogswell (R) from Charleston and Neal Collins (R) from Easley. We’re also supporting Senators Brad Hutto (D) from Orangeburg, Karl Allen (D) from Greenville, and Scott Talley (R) from Spartanburg. But that’s not all, check out our full endorsement list for more endorsements and details on their records.

These incumbent lawmakers have been key allies on advancing land protection efforts, removing barriers to clean energy, and protecting citizens’ rights to a clean environment. We look forward to our continued work with them.

Some General Election Endorsements: We also rolled out a handful of additional general election endorsements to send an early signal of support for some of our key allies. We’ll share more about these once we get past the primary election and are looking to November. In the meantime, you can check them out here.

As you can see, we’re sticking to our bipartisan nature and have some BIG opportunities to build and strengthen our conservation majority in the legislature.

This cycle we’ve prioritized supporting candidates who will work to defend core environmental protections and who support bold land protection and clean energy goals – like protecting 30% of South Carolina’s land and water or moving us towards a 100% clean energy future.

Winning in 2020 is how we build the bipartisan coalition necessary to advance these bold policy goals. Winning this cycle is how we turn election victories into big, long-term policy success. And winning in these races is how we send a clear signal that candidates need to be good on conservation or risk losing their seats.

Despite all the distractions and craziness right now, we’re excited about the possibilities around the June 9 primary elections. We hope you are too and hope that you’ll join us in supporting these – and other – conservation champions.

And, remember, you can VOTE ABSENTEE for any reason between now and June 9. Contact your County Voter Registration office for a ballot or for more information.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!