Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

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In many Latin-based languages, Tuesday is named for Mars, the god of war.  Thus, it seems particularly appropriate that U.S. elections occur on Tuesdays, when competing ideologies clash in key battles that define policy possibilities for the next two to four years.  As we’ve said before, elections matter, and they matter a great deal for ocean health.

In Massachusetts, we were frustrated that our endorsed candidate, state senator Robert O’Leary lost to Bill Keating in an extremely close race.  Keating is a solid environmentalist, but Mr. O’Leary is an ocean all star, having sponsored and passed the landmark Massachusetts Ocean Act.  Ocean Champions has won over 80% of the races we’ve entered, but we can’t win every one.  Losing here cost an opportunity to elect a future ocean policy leader, but we should have a solid ocean supporter if Mr. Keating wins in the general.

We were also disappointed to see that Christine O’Donnell beat Congressman Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican Senate primary.  As a Congressman, Castle compiled a strong record on oceans and the environment, and was one of just eight Republicans willing to vote for the Waxman-Markey Climate bill.  Ocean health should not be a partisan issue, and Mike Castle could have led the way for other moderate Republicans to support good ocean legislation.  Ms. O’Donnell’s personal record is well known, making her victory all the more surprising.  On the positive side, Democrat Chris Coons, who is now favored in the general, should be very solid on ocean issues.  However, the fact that someone like O’Donnell beat such a well-established incumbent shows how we’ll all need to fight hard for ocean candidates this year.

Which takes us to New Hampshire, where former state’s Attorney, Kelly Ayotte beat the Republican field, earning the right to face .  This will be a tough fight against Ayotte, a “drill baby, drill” advocate and global warming denier, but we’re working hard for Mr. Hodes, and we’ll need your help.  This race has major impact for ocean policy.

In Maryland, we got the result we expected, with state senator Andy Harris winning the Republican nod for MD-1.  This sets up a rematch against incumbent Congressman Frank Kratovil, who we endorsed in 2008 and again this year.  In 2008, Kratovil beat Harris by fewer than 3,000 votes.  , while Big Oil champ Andy .  This will be another tough election with clear implications for ocean health, and Ocean Champions is working hard to keep Mr. Kratovil in office.

We’re also pleased to note that Ocean Champions-endorsed won her primary.  The Senator has been a consistent supporter of healthy ocean and Chesapeake Bay policy, and has made important appropriations to help NOAA.

So the god of war dealt a mixed bag to the oceans on Tuesday, but we feel strong going into the November elections.  Ocean Champions is the only ocean group that will be on the front lines of these wars, which have huge ocean impact, and we’re going to need your help.  Together, however, we can preserve and even strengthen the pro-ocean Congress that we’ve helped build.

CHARGE!!!!!!

Date Posted: September 16, 2010 @ 8:22 am Comments Off

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

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As if the start of the NFL regular season wasn’t enough, we’ve got another big milestone on Tuesday, September 14th.  This is the date for a number of primaries we’re watching that will have an impact on ocean health.  Here’s what’s on tap:

In Massachusetts, , who is seeking the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’ 10th district against Bill Keating.  Mr.O’Leary has been a great ocean champion at the state level, writing, sponsoring and driving the landmark to passage, and would be a force for ocean health at the national level.

In New Hampshire, in his run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring ocean champion Sen. Judd Gregg.  Mr. Hodes is unopposed on the Democratic side, but the primary will show us which one of the drill-baby-drill, global warming deniers he’ll be running against in the general.

In Maryland we’ve got a similar situation.   in the first district, and the primary will show who he’s running against.  All indications are it’ll be state senator Andy Harris, who’s voting record on the Chesapeake Bay is so bad he would be another Richard Pombo if he won.  Mr. Kratovil on the other hand, is a strong ocean and bay advocate who knows that his constituents need these ecosystems to be healthy for tourism and jobs, as well as for environmental health.  , who has a number of challengers in her primary, none of whom, however, looks to have a real shot.

In Delaware, the Republican Senate primary has suddenly gotten very interesting.  Current .  His opponent, Christine O’Donnell has a record that includes an IRS lean, near mortgage default, failure to pay college expenses and numerous lies.  Polling shows the race to be tightening, but for anyone who cares about the ocean, Mr. Castle is the clear choice.

We’ll report back on the outcomes of these key races on Wednesday morning.  Remember, elections and ocean health are directly linked.

Date Posted: September 13, 2010 @ 10:39 am Comments Off

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

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Monday night’s football game between was a thriller, ending in a triumph for the underdog Boise State Broncos.  In some ways, the the back and forth contest was a metaphor for our efforts to move our priorities in the 111th Congress, which have been to:

Just like Boise State, we got out to a strong early start, but the situation quickly became competitive and challenging.  Boise State needed a last minute, come-from-behind touchdown drive with no timeouts to win the game.  We feel like we’re in good shape, but just like the Broncos, we need to close strong to win.  Here’s the lowdown on where we stand, what we’re going to do, and where we’ll need your help.  The overall focus, clearly, will be on the Senate:

Reforming Ocean Governance

On June 19th, the President issued an Executive Order to protect, maintain and restore healthy oceans.  This was a huge victory for ocean governance reform that Ocean Champions and many of our partners in the ocean conservation community have been fighting for years to achieve. This one’s already in the books as a big win!

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

Along with our champions, we’ve worked hard to get this bill passed in the House and out of Committee in the Senate.  Moving anything in the Senate is a challenge these days, so we aren’t taking any chances.  We’ve found two possible vehicles that could bring this fine bill to the Senate floor.  We’re pressing on both, and we’re cautiously optimistic.  Your voice may be important one more time along the way, so stay tuned.

Ending Overfishing

The Obama Administration submitted a budget request that will build an effective management infrastructure for critical U.S. fisheries and will implement innovative frameworks that align the economic interests of the fishermen with the conservation goals of the fishery.  Indications are that we’ve helped build the support needed to fund the Administration’s request, but we won’t rest until the appropriation is final.  We’re continuing our efforts to keep supporters on our side and to move neutral appropriators to positions of support.  If the Administration’s request is funded, many threatened fisheries will have a chance to rebuild.

Responding to the BP Gulf Oil Disaster

On July 30th, led by ocean champion Nick Rahall (D-WV), the House passed the CLEAR Act, which reforms the Minerals Management Service, the processes regulating offshore drilling, and Big Oil liability.  Most importantly, it establishes the nation’s first ocean conservation fund, which could direct $1 billion annually to restore habitat, help fisheries and protect threatened marine animals.  The goal now is to get similar legislation passed in the Senate, starting with the (introduced by ocean champs Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Snowe (R-ME).  This fund, similar to the one in CLEAR, may move alone or as part of Majority Leader Reid’s Energy Package, which contains other important drilling response components.  We’ll try to strengthen and pass both pieces of legislation.  These are our toughest challenges – our champions are generally supportive, but winning will require support from non-traditional sources.  We’ll definitely be calling on you, the ocean voters, for help here.

Many of our champions also introduced legislation seeking to ban new offshore drilling in various local areas.  We’d love to see a reestablishment of the drilling moratorium, but that doesn’t appear politically viable right now.  Thus, we’ll be looking for opportunities to protect sensitive areas and will work closely with our champions to do as much as possible.

With one win under out belts and a good shot at two more, this could be a strong year for healthy ocean policy.  If the Senate matches the ocean provisions of the House’s CLEAR Act, it would be a great year.  Boise State plays as a team , where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and if we’re going to win three more times, we’ll need to play the same way.  None of the progress to date would have happened without your tremendous support.  We’re down to the last two minutes of the game and we’re out of timeouts.  Let’s pull together for one more hard push this year!

Date Posted: September 8, 2010 @ 1:38 pm Comments Off