Midterms 2018: Looking Ahead to Boating Politics in 2019 and 2020

Some waterfront communities elected new representatives, but what does this means for boaters?

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – The dust is finally settling on 2018 and the political landscape of the next two years will start to take shape almost as soon as the upcoming holiday season has come and went. These 2018 Midterm Elections, like the presidential canvas two years ago, was filled with a few twists and surprises. Some of those electoral shakeups occurred along the Southern California coast. Whether a new wave of political leaders in local city halls, Sacramento’s halls of legislation or Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. will positively or negatively affect the Southern California boating community remains to be seen.

Democracy requires action and participation, regardless of who you voted for or whoever won the election in your district. The only way to ensure local, regional and national politicians don’t overlook you entirely is to maintain an active and engaged voice. Be sure to communicate with those who represent you (we’re providing contact information for some of those leaders at the end of this column). Let’s take a look, nonetheless, at some of the changes voters endorsed on Nov. 6.

Newport Beach City Council

Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield narrowly lost his re-election bid to stay on the City Council dais (see full news report on page XX). Tim Stoakes won the Newport Beach 3rd District Seat, edging out Duffield by a mere 335 votes. Duffield was one of two boaters on the dais, giving the local boating community a strong voice, seemingly, at Newport Beach City Hall. The outgoing Newport Beach mayor made a name for himself by inventing the “Duffy” electric boat, which is regularly found navigating in and around the city’s harbor area.

Voters elected Duffield to the City Council in 2014; he was elected by his colleagues as the Newport Beach mayor at the end of 2017. The Duffy inventor vowed to bring several harbor-themed issues to the forefront during his tenures as council member and mayor, but Duffield recused himself from several waterfront issues — effectively canceling out his voting power on a few boating issues. The recusals were always attached to Duffield’s business interests on the Newport Beach waterfront.

There were still a few significant changes on the Newport Beach waterfront during Duffield’s tenure. The city, for example, decided to no longer allow jetpacks in the bay, revamped the local harbor department, opened Central Avenue Pier (which includes valuable boat docking space), earned the power to grant local eelgrass permits and clarified speed limit rules (as they relate to regattas). None of these issues were specifically heralded by Duffield, though. The Duffy inventor, instead, positioned himself as a council member capable of giving his colleagues insight on what issues matter most to boaters.

At least one local publication called the Stoaks-Duffield race too close to call, but if the current vote count maintains then the only boater left on the Newport Beach dais is Council member Brad Avery.

House 48th District

Newport Beach City Hall was not the only place where a seismic shift occurred on Nov. 6. The city’s congressional district also saw an incumbent go down, as Democrat Harley Rouda defeated multi-term Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-48th District.

Rohrabacher was elected to the House of Representatives in 1988; his loss ends 30 years of representing portions of Orange County (including Newport Beach) in Washington, D.C.

Most of Newport Beach Harbor’s affairs would be handled at City Hall, the county office in Santa Ana or even Capitol Hill in Sacramento. Of course there are those times when city officials or local developers have to appear in front of the California Coastal Commission. Yet there are still federal issues pertaining to Newport Beach Harbor, such as dredging or the broad environmental issue. City officials might even rely upon federal funding to help pay for seawall repair or help restore an endangered species within harbor waters.

Rouda still has to withstand Rohrabacher’s lack of concession. Whoever ends up representing the 48th district will certainly have a lot on his plate, making it easy for the representative to focus on issues other than boating. The Log will keep boaters updated of when they should reach out to Rouda (assuming he is indeed the winner of the 48th).

House 49th District

Democrat Mike Levin defeated Republican Diane L. Harkey in the race to succeed Darrell Issa and represent Oceanside and Dana Point boaters in Washington, D.C. Federal issues are a little more common in Oceanside, what with the city’s harbor abutting a military base and dredging constantly being an issue. Dana Point Harbor, meanwhile, is about to undergo a major overhaul. The revitalization, of course, is a local project backed by private developer money, but boaters at Orange County’s southernmost harbor still have to deal with dredging and the occasional military presence. Will Levin lend his ears to boaters in Dana Point and Oceanside?

Governor’s Race

Gov. Jerry Brown will be wrapping up his second two-term stint as California’s top executive. Filling in for him during the next four years will be Gavin Newsom. Boaters were not high on Brown, especially after Cal Boating was stripped of its powers as an independent state department for boaters and whittled down to a division under the controls of another agency.

Will boaters see Newsom as an extension of Brown? Newsom, like Brown, is a Northern California politician. Questions, accordingly, might be raised as to whether Newsom will pay any mind to the Southern California electorate (let alone Southern California’s boaters). Various issues, though, are in play at the state level, such as the potential reorganization of State Parks, continued implementation of the Boater Education Card, copper regulations and invasive species management, among others. How will these issues take shape under Newsom’s leadership?

State Senate District 8

This State Senate district is outside of Southern California (it covers Fresno and much of the Sierras). What makes this district significant, however, is it was the one represented by Tom Berryhill (who has been termed out). Berryhill was the biggest advocate for fishing license reform, consistently pushing for his colleagues to support an annual fishing license regime (as opposed to calendar-based). Succeeding Berryhill is Andreas Borgeas, a fellow Republican who most recently sat on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Will Borgeas take the torch from Berryhill and continue to advocate for fishing license reform? His district is certainly home to many anglers and outdoors enthusiasts. A large contingency of anglers from Southern California visit portions of this district, as well, so it would certainly behoove anglers to be in touch with Borgeas.

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Standing Watch/Take Action

In this section you will find resources and supplemental information on what you can do to Take Action. Submit additional information or tips on this issue to editor@thelog.com

There were clearly other elections in play, all of which couldn’t be addressed in this column. The Log will, of course, use this Standing Watch space to keep you updated on specific issues boaters should know about, and stay in touch with your representatives. Contacts for newly elected officials will be available as soon as they assume office. Here is a list of people, nonetheless, you should reach out to and discuss major issues directly affecting you and your fellow boaters.


Orange County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (Dana Point)

Supervisor Michelle Steel (Newport Beach)


Newport Beach
Council member Brad Avery


U.S. Senate
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Twitter: @SenFeinstein

Sen. Kamala Harris
213-894-5000, 619-239-3884
Twitter: @KamalaHarris


House of Representatives
Rep. Ted Lieu (Los Angeles)
323-651-1040, 202-225-3976, 310-321-7664
Twitter: @TedLieu