It was a painful election day for Democrats in Ohio as a red tide came in and took with it the Governorship, five Congressional seats and any sway in the state legislature. But what is most interesting is that when the tide receded it left a sea blue line across the northern border of the Great Lakes state. Every district bordering Lake Erie voted for their incumbent lawmaker and that means that districts 9,10,11 and 13 are held by Democrats and Steven LaTourette (R) still represents the 14th district.
That is great news for those of us who care about the restoration of the Great Lakes as these lawmakers have been educated for and advocate for our cause. The Districts carry names you’ll know well, such as, Marcy Kaptur (D), Dennis Kucinich (D), Marcia Fudge (D), Betty Sutton (D) and LaTourette (R). This delegation knows that investing in Great Lakes restoration is an investment in the economic recovery of the state and region. These tried and true lawmakers are going to have to continue to work in a bipartisan way and help their new colleagues understand the importance of the lakes.
In the US Senate, George Voinovich (R), a longstanding hero for Great Lakes issues decided to retire leaving Democrat Sharrod Brown with the institutional knowledge on restoration issues. He will be succeeded by another Republican, Rob Portman. Portman has supported the Great Lakes Legacy Act in the past and has expressed support for a number of Voinovich’s initiatives, such as his ballast legislation and efforts to halt the advance of the zebra mussel. During his campaign, Portman told sportsmen that he wants to protect the $7 billion fishing industry from the Asian Carp. He also expressed interest in Senator Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) proposal to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. These are all positive signs that Portman could become a real champion for the Great Lakes. Let’s not forget that the new Speaker of the House John Boehner is a Buckeye and that means Portman and LaTourette are in a unique position to create a powerful alliance with him that would make all the difference for Great Lakes restoration and the jobs that come with it.