Liberal moneyman Tom Steyer has spent more than $100 million to push climate change to the political forefront, but a down-ballot race in Colorado illustrates how the issue can create headaches for Democrats.
Democrat Alice Madden, a candidate for the at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, has made no secret of her climate change advocacy even as the state’s flagship university system wrestles with flaps involving dissenting views on global warming.
A WikiLeaks email released two weeks ago showed ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum bragging to Mr. Steyer about an effort to thwart University of Colorado Boulder environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr., a well-known thorn in the side of the climate change movement.
The previous month, three University of Colorado Colorado Springs professors came under fire for warning their students that there would be no debate on human-caused climate change, and that anyone who disagreed should drop the class.
The result has been a campaign prompting questions over where to strike the balance between advocacy and academic freedom.
Republican Heidi Ganahl has made it clear that she wants to keep politics out of the classroom and scientists in charge of research topics, not the board.
“I’m more about supporting research in general and letting the leaders of the university decide, based on funding and grants and what the areas of interest are with the students and the faculty,” said Ms. Ganahl, founder of the pet care company Camp Bow Wow and a CU Foundation board member.
She added, “My daughter’s a senior at the University of Oregon, and I sent her to college to learn how to think, not what to think.”