Congressman Oberstar's Clean Water legislation was a defining issue in his defeat, and we were happy to have the opportunity to lead the battle in his district.
Oberstar's defeat was a political earthquake that very few people thought was possible. His district was deemed to be one of the safest in Congress, and he has won reelection by large margins since 1974. Prior to that, he was the AA to to John Blatnik, who had held the seat since 1946.
And Oberstar was not simply a victim of a republican tide, as democratic candidates for the state legislature in his district won reelection by large margins. We were finally able to get the print media to focus on the water issue, since very few people were even aware of it. A condensed version of an op-ed piece that was previously published in numerous newspapers is included below. Oberstar responded angrily and personally to this and essentially lied publicly about the bill in several respects. And to make matters worse, he totally lost his cool at a debate in Duluth and made a complete ass out himself. In other words, he showed his true colors, and the public was paying attention.
To be sure, his opponent, Chip Cravaak, who had never run for public office, ran a first-class campaign without much money. Chip is a great guy who will help restore sanity in Washington. We're going to try to convince him to request to be on both the Natural Resources and Transportation Committees. I hope some of you can help make that happen.
Meanwhile, we cannot afford to let our guard down on the Clean Water Act. The issue is not going to go away, and the EPA and Corps of Engineers will continue to expand their domain beyond the limits of their authority. This remains one of the best grassroots organizing issues foradvocates of property rights and local control, since it potentially affects all land and water in the country. The national environmental leaders are not going to give up on this. And there is still the slightly modified version of Oberstar's bill, the Baucus-Klobuchar Substitute, that was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last June.
The best strategy may be to go on the attack and try to take control of the issue at the grassroots level. This seems doable given the election results. The the immediate priority is to make sure this bill doesn't see the light of day during the lame duck session. Beyond that, we would welcome general or specific suggestions you may have, so please let us know your thoughts.