NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Tom Campion is a donor with a cause who once hosted President Obama at his home. This week, he got to introduce Joe Biden.

The co-founder and CEO of Zumiez, Tom Cam­pi­on, once host­ed Pres­i­dent Oba­ma for a pricey fundrais­er with Sonya Cam­pi­on, his spouse, at their North Seat­tle home. On Mon­day night, Tom made a cross-con­ti­nen­tal con­nec­tion with Pres­i­dent Biden at a vir­tu­al fundrais­er for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee.

“I love this guy,” said Cam­pi­on, who effu­sive­ly intro­duced the nation’s forty-sixth pres­i­dent to fel­low Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty donors.

Cam­pi­on is a donor with a pur­pose. He is a pas­sion­ate conservationist.

Tom Campion

Tom Cam­pi­on takes in the view in Alas­ka (Pho­to: Cam­pi­on Advo­ca­cy Fund)

Years ago, I met the man who sells more skate­boards and snow­boards in this coun­try than any­one else. He was on a Pilchuck Audubon Soci­ety pick­et line in Marysville where then-House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich was rais­ing bucks for the Repub­li­can Par­ty and tout­ing strate­gic advice from World War II Ger­man tank com­man­der Colonel Gen­er­al Heinz Gud­er­ian in his book Panz­er Leader.

In recent years, Campion’s advo­ca­cy has cen­tered on pro­tect­ing Alas­ka, nick­named The Last Fron­tier, from envi­ron­men­tal destruction.

Tom Cam­pi­on had a tense four years with Don­ald Trump in the White House. Using a back­door pro­vi­sion insert­ed in Repub­li­cans’ 2017 tax scam bill, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion tried to ram through oil and gas leas­ing in the Arc­tic Refuge, just before leav­ing office. The regime also tried to roll back the U.S. For­est Ser­vice “Road­less Rule” with the objec­tive of open­ing open old growth forests of South­east Alaska’s Ton­gass Nation­al For­est to clearcutting.

Joe Biden is not a great out­doors­man, but he has come through on caus­es for which Tom and Sonya Cam­pi­on are passionate.

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion has declared a mora­to­ri­um on oil leas­ing in the Arc­tic Refuge. The new admin­is­tra­tion is rolling back the Trump roll­back so ancient forests of the Ton­gass will not be sun­dered by roads or logged.

Inter­na­tion­al­ly, the Unit­ed States is back in the Paris Cli­mate Accords.

U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Deb Haa­land, the first Native Amer­i­can to over­see man­age­ment of America’s pub­lic lands, is mov­ing to restore the Bears Ears and Grand Stair­case-Escalante Nation­al Mon­u­ments in South­ern Utah, cut to pieces by Trump at the behest of the min­ing and ener­gy industries.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic fundrais­er on Mon­day night was clas­sic Biden.

On vot­ing rights, the Pres­i­dent declared:

“It’s under assault in ways I haven’t seen in my entire career, and I was the guy who was able to get the Vot­ing Rights Act extend­ed twen­ty-five years before: We’re going to fight like hell so that doesn’t hap­pen.” (Biden chaired the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee when the Vot­ing Rights Act was extended.)

The Pres­i­dent, who served thir­ty-six years in the Sen­ate, defend­ed and praised the bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture com­pro­mise work­ing its way through Con­gress’ upper cham­ber. “I had to make some com­pro­mis­es, but it’s going to make a gigan­tic dif­fer­ence,” he said. “It’s going to trans­form the econ­o­my. It’s going to elim­i­nate all lead pipes in Amer­i­ca, so peo­ple can have decent drink­ing water.”

The actions of Pres­i­dents have a rip­ple effect across the coun­try. In read­ing the pool report on Biden’s talk, I thought of an Alas­ka vil­lage named Tena­kee Springs on Chicagof Island, not reach­able by any road and glad of it. The U.S. For­est Ser­vice has had on the books ambi­tious log­ging plans for the area. Across a bay sits a riv­er estu­ary renowned for its salmon runs and feed­ing Alas­ka brown bears.

Forests flank­ing the estu­ary were tar­get­ed for logging.

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion has decid­ed the wild­land ought to remain the pre­serve of salmon and bru­ins, and mar­veling vis­i­tors in boats just offshore.

The Biden-backed infra­struc­ture bill will com­mit bil­lions of dol­lars to repair­ing and build­ing new roads. But none will reach Tena­kee Springs.

Tom Cam­pi­on loves such places in the 49th State.

He has tak­en polit­i­cal lead­ers and busi­ness big­gies up to the Arc­tic Refuge, to wit­ness wild­lands where the oil and gas indus­try wants to put haul roads, drilling plat­forms and pipelines. On one vis­it, Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell peered into a spot­ting scope, saw a griz­zly on the low­er slope of a moun­tain, and a wolver­ine high­er up. “Is this unusu­al?” she asked Campion.

The Cam­pi­ons have raised mon­ey for Sen­a­tors, Sen­ate can­di­dates, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, and host­ed 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Clinton.

They’ve bond­ed with some guests. The Cam­pi­ons’ dog is named Har­ry Reid after the for­mer Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader. Sonya Cam­pi­on has served as lead on one of the advi­so­ry pan­els Gov­er­nor Inslee cre­at­ed to plan COVID-19 recovery.

The Cam­pi­ons also sup­port exhi­bi­tion books pub­lished by Braid­ed Riv­er, a divi­sion of Moun­taineers Books, and have under­writ­ten shoot­er Flo­ri­an Schultz’s wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy in the Arc­tic, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Steve Kazlowski’s study of polar bears, and Sub­hankar Banerjee’s sem­i­nal pho­to study of the Arc­tic Refuge.

They have con­sis­tent­ly sup­port­ed NPI’s research and advo­ca­cy, too.

Biden served up a lit­tle par­ti­san red meat on Mon­day night.

“The Repub­li­can Par­ty of today offers noth­ing but fear and lies and bro­ken promis­es,” he stat­ed. “We have to keep cut­ting through the Repub­li­can fog.”

Up on Alaska’s North Slope, mean­while, pho­tog­ra­phers backed by the Cam­pi­ons are shoot­ing cari­bou as they emerge out of the fog.

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