Experience has given Christie an upper hand on environmentalism among competitors, but not all Republicans have the same degree of concern for the issue at a local caucus event.
As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has worked on green energy and environmentally friendly initiatives to build a stronger economy and create jobs in the state. At a campaign event on Jan. 31 environmental concerns for voters varied in degree of importance in comparison to other issues. Some attendees claimed environmental issues were not high on their list of issues. Younger voters were more likely to put environmental issues at a higher level of concern than older voters.
Matthew Matternas is a senior at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines and will be participating in his first caucus as a voter. Matternas says his class in environmental science has opened up his perspective on the issue. He says he thinks of all the Republican candidates, Christie is the most conscious on environmental issues because of New Jersey’s history and focus on solar energy.
Matternas says he thinks the issue of environmentalism is less important to older voters because of its lack of immediacy. He says the economy is a short term issue but environmental issues are long term.
Chris Nickell is an undecided voter and works as a director of environmental health and safety at a university. Nickell says he’s looking for common sense and easy to follow regulations that aren’t bureaucratic. Nickell says Christie can aide in creating common sense legislation, without eliminating programs, because he has experience working with chemical sites and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Nickell says he thinks in this election the younger generation has the most to gain and possibly the most to lose. He says the younger generation is more tapped into global warming issues. Nickell says from talking to college students he knows they’re very informed on the issues and they care about them.
Nickell says the age group with the greater influence will depend on who shows up to caucus. He says if the older population comes out to vote while the younger population doesn’t, it can affect what issues are heard over others.
“If we turn out the younger vote …I think we could have a very large say and more influence than what we have right now,” Nickell says. “Older generations are more concerned with issues that relate to them. While the environment is important it’s down on the list because of it’s immediacy.”
Both Nickell and Matternas said they were concerned about other Republican positions, like eliminating governmental programs like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jim Murphy is a part of the baby boomer generation and says he is caucusing for Cruz. He says environmentalism is not one of this top issues but he says since he lives in Iowa it affects him. Murphy says he supports Cruz’s position to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency because of the highly complex regulations.
“The EPA has been trying to spread its own turf and we have a lot of issues locally like run off – we’re getting more and more regulations instead of it being dealt with here in Iowa,” Murphy says. “We’re getting more lines of bureaucracy by people who are a long way away. He’s a rebel, professional politicians don’t have my interests in mind. He’s a constitutionalist and a traditionalist and I like that.”