New Democrat Evan Bayh decided not to seek reelection this year opening up a US Senate seat for Indiana that veteran republican lawmaker Dan Coats handily won. An old school Republican Congressman, former US Ambassador and Lobbyist, Coats promised to limit government, lower taxes and balance the budget while continuing to provide the Department of Defense with as much cash as necessary. In the end, republicans took two Congressional seats from the democrats leaving the GOP with six and Dems with 3, but the two Great Lakes coastal districts remain with incumbents.
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) and Rep. Pete Visclosky (D) will continue to represent the first and second districts in Indiana. Both are members of the Great Lakes Task Force. Donnelly was the co-sponsor of the Great Lakes Compact and Visclosky fought long and hard for the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative calling it a “landmark investment” in the Great Lakes.
“I have always been committed to protecting and preserving the lakes, and I am proud to commit these new funds for their restoration,” said Visclosky, adding “A healthy and vibrant Lake Michigan means a better quality of life in Northwest Indiana.”
We can only expect these two lawmakers will continue to work doggedly to keep the GLRI money flowing to our region. But what will Coats do for the Great Lakes? That is a good question; he is a veteran politician and would have an easy time working both sides of the aisle which is desperately needed these days. But in years past, when representing Indiana in the early 1990s, the League of Conservation Voters gave him low ratings. Perhaps Reps. Donnelly and Visclosky should send Senate-elect Coats the Brookings Report and an invitation to join them supporting Great Lakes restoration.