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Ocean Champions: Political Champions for Ocean Conservation

Dear Friend,

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 night of the event, September 21st proved to be one of the most chaotic in DC in a long time.  Both the House and Senate had key budget votes, and there were innumerable fundraisers around the city.  With all the options available, the choices Members made about where to go would be purposeful and would speak volumes.  Would the oceans count for them?

Sen. Mark Begich talks about the Senate Oceans Caucus Sen. Bill Nelson provides an opportunity for ocean advocates to discuss oceans The OC Team:  Patrick Collins, Mike Dunmyer, Chris Laughlin, David Wilmot & Whitney Burns
Photos courtesy of Doug DeMark

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.

Rep. Lois Capps, her grandson, Oscar & David Wilmot Sen. Ben Cardin announces that the Senate EPW Committee has passed the National Endowment for the Oceans! David Wilmot, Sen. Olympia Snowe, Benson Chiles & Wendy Benchley
Photos courtesy of Doug DeMark

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.

Mike Dunmyer, John Racanelli  & Mike Sutton Rep. Kathy Castor, David Wilmot, Patrick Collins & Rep. Martin Heinrich Candidate Jared Huffman, Rep. Sam Farr, Kristen Borr & Dave Revell
Photos courtesy of Doug DeMark

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.

Mike Dunmyer introducing Rep. John Garamendi

Congressional Sealebrities mingling with Ocean Friends & Activists Rep. Nick Rahall having a great time, we did too!
Photos courtesy of Doug DeMark

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.

Thank You,

David, Mike, Chris and the entire Ocean Champions team

P.S. A special thank you to our host committee.  And remember, you can keep building political power for the oceans by joining them and giving to Ocean Champions today. 

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).

Capital Hill
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Ocean Champions
202 San Jose Avenue
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