Southerland Schooled At Fish Hearing

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

Last Saturday, the House Natural Resources Committee held a field hearing in Panama City (at Cong. Steve Southerland’s request) ironically titled, ““Fishing = Jobs: How Strengthening America’s Fisheries Strengthens Our Economy.” The irony comes from the fact that Southerland’s agenda is to dismantle conservation tenets in our nation’s fisheries law (Magnuson-Stevens) that are strengthening fisheries today.  However, even though Southerland stacked the witness panel with his plants, he couldn’t stop the truth from coming out: Magnuson-Stevens and catch shares are working for fish and for fishermen.

, the overfishing limits in Magnuson-Stevens combined with catch shares management have taken Gulf fisheries from threatened to thriving, and have saved fishing businesses and jobs in the process.  Waters said,

“With all due respect, we don’t need Congress taking us back to the failures of the past. We need you to help us address the changes of the future. . . . Do not turn back the clock, help us conserve our fisheries and jobs for tomorrow.”

“We have a system that is working, or else we wouldn’t be here fighting.”

After Waters testified, a huge group of Gulf commercial fisherman (all wearing orange shirts that read, “Keep catch-shares on the table, Keep fish on the table”) cheered heavily.  One of their group shouted, “We got our word in,” a clear reference to the the panel’s uneven representation.

All this begs the question, “Who is Congressman Southerland trying to help?” He claims to represent fishermen, but commercial fishermen from his own district are telling him to stop messing around with the rules that are allowing their businesses (and the fisheries) to thrive. 

“Under Magnuson-Stevens, our fisheries are rebuilding and are healthier than they’ve been in a long time. Our jobs are stable and more secure than they were before we were held accountable to each other through annual catch limits and accountability measures… We’re closer than ever to making overfishing a thing of the past. Why would we want to change the rules just when we’re starting to win the game?”

Well, maybe Southerland only wants to represent recreational fishermen, but as , he doesn’t represent all of them.  Warren says,

“As a longtime recreational fisherman who supported changes in our nation’s fishery law to address decades of overfishing, I see Southerland’s field hearing as more about rolling back the clock to those bad ol’ days.”

Maybe Southerland is just out of touch, or maybe he’s just pushing his own self righteous agenda.  , saying,

“One of Congressman Southerland’s favorite phrases is that we have a “God-given right” to our natural resources. Whether he realizes it or not, we live in a world of limits. If we were given any right at all, it would be the right to respect and preserve our environment and the resources it nurtures, and the fortitude to not seek short term profits while foregoing long term gains.”

Again, Southerland is somewhat ironic in his approach.  As a Tea Party Republican, he espouses a “get government out of our lives” philosophy.  However, with his own constituents telling him to leave their fisheries alone, he continues to meddle, trying to impose his own DC-based top down control of a local resource.  Fortunately, the Gulf fishermen showed up to his hearing to set him straight.


Date Posted: August 27, 2012 @ 6:55 am Comments Off

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

As you know, the big news this week was Congressman / Senate Candidate Todd Akin’s – shall we say unenlightened – comments on women.  The blowback was deservedly huge, with Republican Party leadership calling for him to step out of the race (which he summarily rejected).  The immediate effect on his own race was big. Polling has had him slightly ahead of incumbent Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill since March, but a Rasmussen poll conducted just after Akin’s comments showed McCaskill up 48 – 38.

The issue (and opinion) Akin expressed appears to be sticky and is becoming a problem for GOP candidates in other races (BTW, if you want to see Akin’s equally uninformed views on climate change, click here).  We don’t know yet whether this will impact any of the races where we’ve endorsed a Democratic candidate against a far right Republican, but we’ll be watching.

Quick update on the New Mexico Senate race (on which we’re heavily engaged):  Congressman Martin Heinrich continues to receive good news.  Despite even more SuperPAC attacks, a Rasmussen poll that came out this week again shows him to be up 48 – 41 against former Governor Heather Wilson.  This was confirmed by an internal poll, which had Congressman Heinrich up 51 – 44.

No other new polls of note have come out, but as a quick aside, if you don’t think elections matter for the oceans, .  Mr. Clements has picked up on our tag for Congressman Steve Southerland, calling him Ocean Enemy #1, and outlining some of the bad stuff he’s done on fish issues lately.  Think how much better we’d be if Florida’s second district had a good ocean Rep in place instead of Mr. Southerland…

Date Posted: August 24, 2012 @ 1:32 pm Comments Off

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

Happy Friday, Champs!  In keeping with our new tradition, here’s the latest intel on some of the key races for ocean politics:

Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate may not appear to have any relationship to building champions for ocean conservation, but it just may.  The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) has found that the Ryan budget is highly unpopular in some critical swing races and is beginning to play it up.  In New Jersey’s third district, where we’ve endorsed challenger Shelley Adler against incumbent Congressman Jon Runyan (a really, really bad guy on ocean issues), the DCCC is calling voters to let them know that Runyan voted FOR the Ryan budget, and its changes to Medicare.  This race is close, with most insiders giving the edge to Runyan, but we’ll see if this tactic has any impact.

In addition to New Jersey, the Ryan budget is being highlighted in California’s 52nd District where we just endorsed challenger Scott Peters against ocean bad guy, Congressman Brian Bilbray.  Bilbray voted for the Ryan budget as well, and polling has found that 35% of independent voters and 42% of swing voters were opposed to this plan.  Previously, polling showed Bilbray behind “Anyone else” by a count of 51-42.  Peters is a strong candidate and an excellent ocean champion, so hopefully these trends will continue.

Florida held its primary this week, setting up two important races.  First, we found out state Senator Al Lawson will be the Democratic challenger to Ocean Enemy #1, Congressman Steve Southerland in Florida’s 2nd District.  Lawson beat his closest challenger (Leonard Bembry) 52 – 28 and is a strong campaigner.  Stay tuned for lots more as we get busy in FL-2!

In addition, the Florida Senate race is now set, with Congressman Connie Mack winning the right to challenge incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.  Both Nelson and Mack have been endorsed ocean champions for years, setting up the first head to head matchup of champions since we started in 2004.  A Rasmussen poll conducted just after the primary showed Senator Nelson with a 47 – 40 lead over Congressman Mack.

Hawaii also held its primary last week, and Ocean Champions-endorsed Mazie Hirono beat Ed Case to earn the right to face Republican primary winner Linda Lingle.  A pre-primary poll conducted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (the same poll that correctly predicted the margin of victory for Hirono against Case) showed Hirono up on Lingle by 19 points (58 – 39).  That gives us hope, but we expect this to be a close race with lots of Super PAC activity, and we’ll be doing everything we can to help Congresswoman Hirono.

A poll from environmental groups was just released for the New Mexico Senate race, showing Ocean Champions-endorsed Martin Heinrich opening up a 9 point lead on Republican candidate Heather Wilson.  Most recent polling has showed Congressman Heinrich up by 4 – 6 points, so it appears that Congressman Heinrich is weathering the $1.7 Million Super campaign against him.

That’s all for now.  Keep checking out our list of endorsed candidates as they’ll be new announcements each week, and check back on Fridays for the election updates!


Date Posted: August 17, 2012 @ 9:27 am Comments Off

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

As November approaches, we’re working harder than ever to take back Congress for our oceans by electing 40 champions and beating ocean enemies.  We’ve announced a number of endorsements recently, and you’ll continue to see more each week through September.  With all that activity, I thought it’d be good to give periodic updates on key races where we’ve made an endorsement, starting today!

First off, Washington state just wrapped up its primaries (all candidates run; top two advance to the general).  We endorsed three new candidates in the state, and two won their primaries outright (Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck).  These guys will be strong, strong champions and they’re well positioned for the general.  One of our endorsed candidates, Darcy Burner, finished third and thus won’t advance.  Fortunately, Susan DelBene, another Democrat who will advance to the general also has the potential to be an ocean champion.

Congresswoman Lois Capps is in the fight of her life after redistricting.  With only the general election before her, she’s facing a strong challenge from former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado.  Maldonado has released internal polling that shows him down only 2 points (48 – 46), while Democratic party polling has Capps ahead by 11.  We’ll be watching this closely, as Congresswoman Capps is one of the strongest ocean champions in the House and we need to protect her.

Another champion impacted by California’s redistricting is Congressman John Garamendi. Initial polling has Garamendi in front, but redistricting gave him an almost entirely new constituency, and according to Charlie Cook, dropped the Democratic performance of his seat by 10 points.

On the Senate side, we’re paying close attention to New Mexico and Hawaii, key races where we’ve endorsed two current House members with great ocean track records.

In New Mexico, polling consistently shows ocean champion Martin Heinrich with a 5 point lead over Heather Wilson, but the state is a Presidential election toss up, and SuperPACs have already started hitting Congressman Heinrich.  Fortunately, Heinrich is a strong campaigner and his poll numbers have improved slightly during the attack.

All eyes will be on Hawaii on Saturday for the state primary.  Our endorsed champion for Senate, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono must withstand a Democratic primary challenge from Ed Case if she is to compete in the general against former Governor Linda Lingle.  A recent Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll showed Hirono with an 18 point lead over Case, and an internal campaign poll confirmed those findings.  Case is pointing to a Hawaii Civil Beat poll that shows him 1 point ahead, although the

We’ll keep you all up to date throughout the summer and early fall because elections truly do matter for our oceans.

Date Posted: August 10, 2012 @ 10:58 am Comments Off