In 2010, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) endorsed Randy Altschuler in the First District race for U.S. Congress. A longtime supporter of Rep. Tim Bishop, the RFA instead chose to throw its support to Altschuler in advance of the 112th Congress, because important legislation which would’ve assisted our struggling recreational fishing community languished in the Democrat-controlled 110th and 111th Congress from 2007 through 2009. Even an East End fundraising stopover by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just a few years ago in support of Rep. Bishop couldn’t highlight the critical need for fisheries reform in the House of Representatives.
The sportfishing industry should not be a partisan issue, but when a party representative fails to move legislation through the House when controlled by his own party, it’s easy to understand how a core constituency can get frustrated with that elected official. Regrettably, – perhaps it’s time for Mr. Bishop to take a look at what his own “party loyalty” has accomplished during his last several terms.
Congress is currently ‘enjoying’ a dismal 17% approval rating, modestly higher than the all-time low of 10% recorded by Gallup back in February. Americans are frustrated by partisan gridlock, and we’ve grown tired of legislators making promises during campaign stops, only to disappear from the grid for the next 18 months before re-emerging in the months before the next election to make a whole new suite of promises.
Securing federal dredge funds to clear vital coastal waterways is what you call low hanging fruit; such actions require very little political capital in DC, and they won’t offend any of the constituency bases back in the home district. Rattling cages in Washington DC on the other hand, becoming a vocal proponent of your district’s needs and concerns, and showing the intestinal fortitude to choose a side and fight a principled battle for a cause - even a cause célèbre – is what the First District fishing community sorely needs in the 113th Congress beginning in January.
It’s time to end the gridlock in Congress; it’s time to make the hard decisions, to take a stand, and fight for the people instead of the party. The individual saltwater anglers, the charter/head boat industry, tackle shops, and all those who support a robust recreational fishery would do well to support Randy Altschuler in the First District race for U.S. Congress this November. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next election cycle for a few token pieces of over-ripened fruit to fall from the tree. We need real change, and we need it now.
Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
Forest Hills, NY
Managing Director, Recreational Fishing Alliance
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization with the official mission "to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation’s saltwater fisheries."