For the first time, Republican State Senator Rich Funke has won the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters. The statewide environmental group says that Funke is a valuable ally in Albany, despite the fact that the senator is silent on climate change.
The endorsement is a big get, even though Funke may not have a challenger this year; his potential opponent, Democrat Steve Glickman, is challenging a judge's ruling that he doesn't meet residency requirements.
Chris Goeken, the league's director of public policy, says that the group often uses Funke and his staff as a resource to advance legislation.
"I think Senator Funke's been a good partner in getting positive environmental legislation through," Goeken says.
Funke was an early supporter of legislation requiring school districts to test tap water for lead, which is a league priority. Goeken says. Funke also sponsored legislation to preserve farms and farmland, Goeken says.
But Funke's record and NYLCV's agenda don't match on climate change. The league's website identifies climate change as a priority issue and includes calls for state policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York.
Funke has sponsored and supported bills that promote solar power and other renewables. But in terms of climate change as a broader issue, Funke has been silent. No mention is made of it in his press releases or social media posts, or on his campaign and Senate websites.
Funke also didn't sign on to a major climate bill that calls for zeroing out New York's carbon emissions by 2050. The bill isn't an NYLCV priority, though other state environmental groups pushed for it. The Assembly passed it, but the bill didn't get a vote in the Senate.
"That's something that we hope to continue talking to him about so that he does get to support that in the future," Goeken says.