Every year around this time we hold our annual reception honoring ocean champions in Congress, and every year the event gets bigger and better. This year, however, was different. Sure, it was bigger and better than ever, but this year it was more than just a party. This year’s celebration was also an acknowledgment – the oceans matter politically, and our champions need us now more than ever.
The answer was a resounding “yes!” Senators, Representatives and candidates came in waves throughout the evening. Some of our strongest champions, indeed, some of Capitol Hill’s biggest players all came to the event because Ocean Champions has helped them win in the past and because they’ll need our help in 2012. They came because they care about healthy oceans and because they need the ocean community to fight for them next year.
Members and candidates attending (see list below and additional pictures on Facebook) took their time to move through the crowd and get to know the 100+ ocean leaders, philanthropists, and activists in the room. Nearly all of them also took the time to address the crowd, and when they did, the message was direct and crystal clear. They thanked Ocean Champions for putting our money where our mouth is by supporting them and they thanked those in the room for supporting Ocean Champions. They talked about the clear choice voters would have in 2012 – a choice that will affect ocean health for years to come, and they challenged the ocean community to make its voice heard.
Those in attendance were part of something special. Like any good party, they enjoyed good wine and food; renewed old friendships and struck up new ones. Unlike other parties, they were able to witness a milestone: The evolution of ocean political power, recognized by some of Capitol Hill’s most influential Members.
We know that you are as excited and proud as we are today because we did this together. And together we will continue to build on our momentum.
P.S.S. If you happen to run into any of the congressional champions who attended the event, please thank them for their tireless work on behalf of ocean health and for helping make the evening such a success: Senators Mark Begich (AK), Ben Cardin (MD), Bill Nelson (FL), Olympia Snowe (ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Representatives Shelley Berkley (NV), Lois Capps (CA-23), Kathy Castor (FL-11), Sam Farr (CA-17), John Garamendi (CA-10), Martin Heinrich (NM-1), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Ed Markey (MA-7), Nick J.Rahall, II (WV-3), and candidates Val Demings (FL-8) and Jared Huffman (CA-2).