Originally published 1:27 a.m.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will continue to vie for the Democratic nod, while the big story on the Republican side was the resurrection of Mike Huckabee not as the front-runner (that's John McCain) but as the viable alternative for conservatives (not Romney).
When it comes to the environment, the results are a good sign.
Clinton and Obama have published aggressive plans for revolutionizing the way America uses energy, fighting global warming and building a "green collar" economy. Update: Obama's campaign claims to have overtaken Clinton's delegate count, while Clinton's camp calls it a near tie.
McCain, the clear Republican leader after Tuesday's contests, is the only Republican who has made global warming a part of his platform. He was an early leader in the Senate on the issue, and he has pledged to tackle the problem with a cap-and-trade regulation similar to (though likely not as aggressive as) Obama and Clinton's. While McCain's overall voting record on the environment has not been as well-loved by environmentalists as has Clinton's and Obama's, he has been viewed as the best candidate from the perspective of green Republican voters. He received the early and enthusiastic endorsement of Republicans for Environmental Protection (Jim DiPeso, that group's policy director, is our Green Conservative blogger).
But McCain's win wasn't overwhelming or decisive. The race is still on. The big story was Huckabee's showing, which was a near equal to Romney's showing. Romney, a big spender, had been cast as the "other" candidate, but it may turn out that Huckabee, who spent next to nothing, is a stronger candidate going forward. Several pundits have started speculating about the possibility of a McCain-Huckabee ticket.
First, though, consider Romney, the biggest (or only) Super Tuesday loser, according to some commentators.
Romney has been the most hostile to environmental initiatives. While that hasn't been the reason for his poor showing (in repeated polling, global warming and energy policy have not been high on the list of most important issues to voters), Romney had staked his campaign, in part, on contrasting his positions on environmental issues with McCain's. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney opposed a pioneering state-level, Republican-led bipartisan effort to reduce greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power plants. He criticized McCain's support of cap-and-trade regulations for carbon as a burden on the environment. He pledged to roll back fuel economy upgrades recently approved by Congress and President Bush. And he said he opposes states' right, still disputed in court, to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Huckabee's greatest eco policy sin, on the other hand, has perhaps been vagueness. He has talked credibly about how faith and ethics demand us to leave a better environment for future generations, and he has said he supports cap-and-trade regulations for greenhouse gases (along with coal, oil exploration and nuclear power, more traditional Republican concerns).
Due to the complicated nature of these contests, there are many unanswered questions.
At this point, though, Super Tuesday's results mean the nation is closer to finding a leader who will confront the issue of global warming. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made it a priority. The Republican front-runner, John McCain, has been a leader on the issue in the Senate. And Mike Huckabee, if he replaces Mitt Romney as the alternative to McCain, is a step in the right direction, from the perspective of a one-issue green voter.
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