Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you live in the Great Lakes region, you have benefited from the leadership and commitment to restoration that Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) brought to Washington.
Rep. Obey is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and has secured much-needed funds for Great Lakes restoration. Last year, he led the charge to fully fund the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Obey indicated that now that the health care bill passed – an issue he had championed since coming to Congress – he was ready to retire.
At a press conference announcing his decision not to run for re-election, Rep. Obey said he was “bone tired” after a long life of public service, according to the Washington Post. “There is a time to stay and a time to go. And this is my time to go.”
Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl (D) said, “We will feel his absence more than I can describe.”
The Republican Party has speculated that Rep. Obey’s departure has more to do with his opponent, Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy – once a cast member on the Real Life. But the Washington Post reports that Duffy was considered a long-shot against Rep. Obey due to the Wisconsin Democrat’s tenure and large campaign war chest.
There has also been some speculation that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) may be chosen to assume the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee upon Rep. Obey’s departure. Rep. Dicks has been a supporter of Great Lakes restoration as well as the effort to restore America’s great waters. He most recently moved from chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior to chairman of the House Defense Subcommittee.
The Great Lakes restoration campaign will also have to say goodbye to Great Lakes supporters Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). All will be retiring at the end of this year. What a loss.