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After the 2016 elections, Clean Water Action put a renewed effort into organizing communities with an eye toward electing a pro-environment majority in Congress in 2018. Staff identified districts ripe for change in several states, prioritizing 15 Congressional districts in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Clean Water also focused on defending several senators, ensuring state legislatures across the country were led by clean water champions, and winning several gubernatorial races.

Focusing on the field

The organization put its expertise in door-to-door field canvassing to work in these 15 districts, knocking on more than half a million doors. Hundreds of professional canvassers fanned out across the country to talk to voters. Field canvassers spoke with tens of thousands of voters, identifying clean water voters and motivating them to get out and vote on Election Day.

It worked. Clean Water-endorsed candidates in 14 of the 15 targeted districts won their races. Gubernatorial candidates Tim Walz in Minnesota and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan both won election and Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Bob Casey (PA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) were all re-elected. In addition, Pennsylvania re-elected Governor Tom Wolf and Governor Gina Raimondo won a close race for re-election in Rhode Island.


Madeleine Dean, Rashida Tlaib, and Omar Ilhan

Clean Water efforts also yielded big wins in state legislatures. All of the candidates endorsed for the Massachusetts legislature won, several seats flipped to a pro-environment candidate in Pennsylvania, and clean water candidates won in Maryland, ensuring a strong pro-environment contingent for the 2019 legislative session. We also helped elect Dana Nessel as Attorney General in Michigan, along with 10 important state house and state senate seats. Most exciting was Texas where Clean Water efforts won two out of four state senate races, and eight of nine races in which the organization endorsed in the state house – including eight seats that flipped from a pro-polluter to a pro-environment candidate.

See below for a full list of clean water wins.

How did this all happen? Here are a few highlights

In the four competitive races that Clean Water Action focused on in New Jersey, canvassers knocked on more than 218,000 doors, holding personal, engaging conversations to maximize votes for our endorsed candidates Mikie Sherrill, Andy Kim, Tom Malinowski, and Josh Gottheimer. In addition to electing all four Representatives, Clean Water Action was able to help defend and re-elect Senator Bob Menedez.

In Michigan, Clean Water Action organizers canvassed more than 142,000 voters, supporting Gretchen Whitmer for Governor, Dana Nessel for Attorney General, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and candidates for U.S. House, like Rashida Tlaib and Gretchen Driskell, and state House in targeted swing districts.

In Pennsylvania, field organizers focused on swing suburban Philadelphia districts, knocking on more than 57,000 doors and speaking with voters to urge support for Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey and key state candidates.   

In Minnesota, field teams knocked on more than 16,000 doors in swing districts to help replace anti-environment representatives with Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, and elect pro-environment state legislators and Governor-elect Tim Walz.

The effort didn’t stop until the polls closed. Organizers spoke with voters in these districts right to the end, ensuring that as many clean water voters as possible were able to get out and support candidates who will push back against the dirty water agenda in Congress, help fill the leadership gap on efforts to address the climate crisis, and loosen the stranglehold that special interests like the fossil fuel industry have on our democracy.

Clean Water Action has a deep history of identifying opportunities to elect clean water leaders and then winning by putting resources into the field, knocking on thousands of doors and talking to voters. The organization continued that excellence this year.  Study after study shows that field operations win campaigns. The importance of person-to-person contact can't be overstated. Clean Water Action has known this, and practiced it, for more than 46 years. The strategic investment in field operations this election will pay dividends for years to come.

What's Next?

Despite helping to ensure a pro-environment majority that will set the agenda in the U.S. House and strengthening clean water leadership in state capitols, the road ahead is long. Polluter allies increased their grip on the U.S. Senate and the Trump administration is still doing everything it can to undermine commonsense protections for our water and health and dismantling landmark laws like the Clean Water Act. Clean Water Action is looking to 2020, identifying districts and states where the organization can make a difference and elect another crop of clean water leaders. In the meantime, Clean Water staff will focus their expertise on fighting the dirty water agenda from the Trump White House, holding newly elected leaders to their promises and, most importantly, building the movement for clean water.

Clean Water wins by state:


U.S. House

  • CA - 45 Katie Porter -- defeats incumbent Mimi Walters
  • CA - 48 Harley Rouda -- defeats incumbent Dana Rohrabacher

East Bay Municipal Utility District

  • Marguerite Young -- unopposed



Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senate

  • Elizabeth Warren

State Senate

  • Paul Feeney
  • Jamie Eldridge
  • Julian Cyr

State House

  • Jim Hawkins
  • Joan Meschino
  • Natalie Higgins
  • Lori Ehrlich
  • Michelle DuBois
  • Tami Gouveia
  • Tommy Vitolo
  • David LeBoeuf
  • Tram Nguyen
  • Sean Garbelley
  • Marjorie Decker

Ballot Questions

  • Yes on 2
  • Yes on 3



Dwight Evans

State Senate

  • Ron Young
  • Katie Fry Hester
  • Guy Guzzone
  • Brian Feldman
  • William Smith
  • Jim Rosapepe
  • Paul Pinsky
  • Joanne Benson
  • Sarah Elfreth
  • Pam Beidle
  • Bill Ferguson

State House

  • Dana Stein
  • Eric Ebersole
  • Terri Hill
  • Eric Luedtke
  • David Fraser-Hidalgo
  • Marc Korman
  • Kumar Barve
  • Jim Gilchrist
  • Al Carr
  • David Moon
    Andy Levin
  • Anne Healey
  • Marvin Holmes
  • CT Wilson
  • Alice Cain
  • Sandy Bartlett
  • Carol Krimm
  • Ken Kerr
  • Stephen Lafferty
  • Pat Young
  • Charles Sydnor
  • Shirley Nathan-Pulliam
  • Luke Clippinger
  • Brooke Lierman
  • Robbyn Lewis
  • Diana Fennell


Gretchen Whitmer and Dana Nessel



  • Gretchen Whitmer

Attorney General

  • Dana Nessel

U.S. Senate

  • Debbie Stabenow

U.S. House

  • Dan Kildee
  • Andy Levin
  • Haley Stevens
  • Debbie Dingell
  • Rashida Tlaib
  • Elissa Slotkin -- defeated incumbent Mike Bishop


Elissa Slotkin

State Senate

  • Stephanie Chang
  • Erika Geiss
  • Dayna Polehanki
  • Jeremy Moss.
  • Rosemary Bayer (too close to call as of publication)
  • Mallory McMorrow
  • Jeff Irwin
  • Curtis Hertel Jr.
  • Jim Ananich.
  • Winnie Brinks

State House

  • Alex Garza
  • Abdullah Hammoud
  • Kevin Hertel
  • Kristy Pagan
  • Darrin Camilleri
  • Jim Ellison
  • Bill Sowerby
  • Christine Greig
  • Mari Manoogian
  • Padma Kuppa
  • Sheryl Kennedy
    Rashida Tlaib
  • Tim Sneller
  • Donna Lasinski
  • Yousef Rabhi
  • Rebekah Warren
  • Jon Hoadley
  • Jim Haadsma
  • Kara Hope
  • David LaGrand.
  • Rachel Hood


Angie Craig



  • Tim Walz

U.S. House

  • Angie Craig -- defeated incumbent Jason Lewis
  • Dean Phillips - defeated incumbent Erik Paulsen
  • Ilhan Omar

State House

  • Tina Liebling
  • Patty Acomb
  • Dave Pinto
  • Mike Freiberg
  • Hunter Cantrell
  • Alice Mann
  • Raymond Dehn
  • Diane Loeffler
  • Hodan Hassan
  • Alice Hausman
  • Andrew Carlson

New Jersey


Andy Kim

U.S. Senate

  • Senator Bob Menendez

U.S. House

  • Andy Kim - defeated incumbent Tom MacArthur
  • Representive Josh Gottheimer
  • Tom Malinowski
  • Mikie Sherrill



Tom Wolf


  • Tom Wolf

U.S. Senate

  • Bob Casey

U.S. House

  • Brendan Boyle
  • Dwight Evans
  • Madeline Dean
  • Mary Gay Scanlon
  • Matt Cartwright

State Senate

  • Steve Santarsiero
  • Lindsey Williams

State House

  • Gene DiGirolama
  • Perry Warren
  • Stephen McCarter
  • Danielle Otten
  • Carolyn Committa
  • Melissa Schusterman
  • Leanne Kruger Braneky
  • Greg Vitali
  • Joseph Hohenstein
  • Malcolm Kenyatta


Mary Gay Scanlon

Rhode Island


  • Gina Raimondo


  • Seth Magaziner


  • Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. House

  • David Cicilline
  • James Langevin

State Senate

  • Joshua Miller
  • Bridget Valverde

State House


Colin Allred
  • Rebecca Kislak
  • Marcia Ranglin-Vassell
  • Justine Caldwell
  • Anastasia Williams
  • Carol Hagan McEntee
  • Kathleen Fogarty
  • Katherine Kazarian
  • Liana Cassar
  • Laufton Ascensao
  • Susan Donovan
  • Deborah Ruggiero
  • Grace Diaz


U.S. House

  • Colin Allred -- defeated incumbent Pete Sessions

State Senate

  • Beverly Powell
  • Nathan Johnson

State House


Jennifer Wexton
  • Erin Zwiener
  • Sheryl Cole
  • Vikki Goodwin
  • James Talarico
  • Terry Meza
  • Victoria Neave
  • John Turner
  • John Bucy III


U.S. House

  • Don Beyer
  • Jennifer Wexton -- defeated incumbent Barbara Comstock
  • Gerry Connolly