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Thanks to you, our oceans are better off today!

As we’ve said again and again, elections matter for the oceans, and this one was critical.  Thanks to you, it was also victorious!  

In our effort to take back Congress for our oceans we endorsed 46 candidates, hoping to elect 40 champions, significantly expanding the ocean footprint in the House and the Senate.  Why this goal?  Simple math.  In the 112th Congress, there were too many intractable anti-ocean votes in the House.  By electing more champions, we can change the math.  Having more ocean champions also means getting more champions on the ocean-relevant committees in both chambers.  Leadership on ocean issues – for better or worse – starts on these committees.

Thanks to you the results exceeded our expectations!  Your support enabled us to spend more than ever before, including significantly increasing contributions to our much larger group of endorsed champions.   Now, with 43 of 46 races called, 41 of our endorsed champions won, including 31 in the House and all 10 in the Senate.  The Ocean Champions-endorsed candidate is also leading in 2 of the 3 races still too close to call.  This gives us a lot more potential pro-ocean votes at a time when we really need them.  But this is about more than just numbers.  The group’s overall strength and each individual’s commitment is the real story.  These 41 (likely 43 soon) champions include:

  • Hall of Famers like Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), who overcame an incredibly challenging race, thanks in part to your great response to our call for support.
  • Brand new members like Jared Huffman (D-CA), who was an incredibly effective champion at the state level and is now ready to lead change at the federal level; and a trio of new faces from Washington state:  Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Suzan DelBene, who are all focused on addressing the ocean acidification that is killing their state’s important shellfisheries.
  • Newly minted Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI); rising stars in the Democratic party who built impressive ocean records in the House, and who will now strengthen the Senate’s commitment to ocean conservation.
  • Newly elected Independent Senator Angus King, who will work to build consensus across Parties.
  • Republican Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), who consistently supports ocean conservation initiatives regardless of partisan politics.
  • Ten Senators to join the Senate champions who were not up for reelection.  This means that ocean champions now occupy nearly 1/5th of all Senate seats (18).

As we got to know all the endorsed candidates, we were impressed by their energy and passion for turning the tide.  With more champions, better champions, and more on the right committees, we’re looking forward to working with the 113th Congress.

As we all know, in politics there are losses, but every loss is not a failure.  Our campaign to defeat Congressman Steve Southerland fell short.  There’s no getting around it – this one hurt.  Congressman Southerland earned his title of Ocean Enemy #1 by trying to gut fisheries conservation laws, kill clean water standards for the state and expand risky offshore oil drilling. His return to Congress could mean more of the same.
Yet it is also possible Congressman Southerland heard from the same people we did during the campaign.  Fishermen from the District told us that the conservation standards in current U.S. fisheries law saved their fishery and that Southerland’s proposed changes threatened their livelihood.  Other individuals let us know they feared the impact of Southerland’s policies on coastal water quality and tourism. We will be watching to see if he listens to his constituents and works for ocean policies that will help them today and tomorrow.

We’re confident that the full body of our electoral work will continue to heighten accountability for decisions affecting our oceans.  We’ll never shy away from the challenge of defeating ocean enemies, and losing the Southerland race only strengthens our resolve to knock out the worst ocean offender in two years.  Combined with our endorsements, this sends a strong signal to pro-ocean and anti-ocean Members of Congress that the ocean community is watching, and is ready and able to reward them for positive action or to bring our full force to bear to punish them for harmful action.  With your help, our capacity to win will to continue to grow.  In the mean time we’ll keep our eyes on Mr. Southerland and any other Members whose policies threaten our oceans and the people who depend on them.

We know that challenges remain, but with the largest and strongest incoming class of ocean champions headed to DC in January, the oceans are better off today.  Thank you for helping make this happen.  Of course, there is much work to do, so enjoy today’s victories, and prepare to continue the fight!

7 November 2012, 8:00 pm