'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates for First Time in Its History
The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.
Although CEOs give endorsements and corporations donate to candidates all the time, Patagonia's move is likely the first time any U.S. company has explicitly endorsed candidates for office, campaign-finance experts told the Washington Post.
"We are supporting Jon Tester because he gives a damn about protecting public lands—and, like US, he's committed to fight back against anyone who doesn't," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. "He goes to work every day for the 95 percent of Montanans who believe recreation on public lands is a priority, unlike Republicans in Congress who only serve the fossil fuel industry."
Patagonia CEO and president Rose Marcario was similarly enthusiastic about Rosen.
"She will fight to protect Nevada's public lands and the vibrant outdoor industry that depends on them," Marcario said in the press release. "Jacky has a strong record of defending public lands in Congress and protecting our access to clean air and clean waters."
Patagonia has a major presence in Nevada, the home of its global distribution center, its Worn Wear repair center and more than 650 of its employees. For the past two decades, the company has partnered with grassroots environmental nonprofits and state leaders on conservation issues.
In Montana, the company's conservation efforts have dated back nearly 30 years when it started offering grants to support the Montana Wilderness Association. The Treasure State is also home to a Patagonia outlet store and is where the company started its 1% for the Planet program.
Patagonia is not afraid to get political. They sued President Donald Trump last year over his controversial decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and it famously declared on its website, "The President Stole Your Land."
The company also helped launch the nonpartisan "Time to Vote" campaign to increase voter participation. It will give its roughly 1,500 U.S. employees a paid day off this Nov. 6 so they have time to head to the polls. It did the same during the 2016 election.
"In the last midterm election only 36 percent of eligible voters decided to vote. That's not enough voters to represent the American people. I think we deserve better than that," Chouinard said in the video posted last week. "If you do too, then let's get off our butts and go out and vote."