For those who have dedicated themselves to tirelessly advocating for the Great Lakes, the President’s budget was disheartening to say the least. It became clear to most of us that the restoration of the Lakes and possibly the inspiration for a new vibrant economy in our region won’t happen until we have a Commander-in-Chief who is fully committed to our cause.
“This is not going to happen until we have a candidate for President committed to putting it in the budget,” Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) told us at the US Capitol last week. Just moments before Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D) made the same pronouncement.
Fortunately, due to the tireless work of some of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation, all the major candidates for president have signed a pledge promising to make restoration a priority during their administration. Both democratic front runners, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are from Great Lakes states and recognized the legitimacy of this ask and quickly signed on.
Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk (R) – keeper of the Great Lakes Pledge – called Senator John McCain – now the Republican nominee for President to get him on board. He signed up as soon as Kirk asked him too, which may have had something to do with his victory in Ohio last night.
“Regardless of who takes the oath of office we’re in!” Kirk said.
But that doesn’t mean we can rest until Election Day. As Levin so eloquently tutored us – we must remind those candidates when they come campaigning in our town during the primary and the general elections that this matters to us. Our vote depends on this commitment. “They must be reminded every chance we get,” Levin said.
Yesterday’s vote in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont leaves the democrats battling each other for the nomination. Obama leads in delegates, but Clinton had enough support to revive her campaign and halt Obama’s momentum. President George Bush is expected to endorse McCain today. Pennsylvania and Indiana are the next Great Lakes states to hold primaries. Let’s make sure to thank the candidates for promising to make the Great Lakes a priority and remind them we will be vigilant about following up on restoration.