November 8, 2006
The 2006 midterm elections will forever be known as historic, as the Democrats returned to power in the Congress. But 2006 will also be known as the year that the animal protection movement achieved a new level of political traction and influence.
|Humane Society Legislative Fund|
"bears down" on the nation’s worst
(and now former) governor—Maryland's
Bob Ehrlich. Ehrlich repealed the
state’s 51-year ban on trophy hunting
of black bears.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, in its first year working to influence candidate elections, scored resounding victories for animals at every level. Through television and radio ads, mailings to voters, and grassroots door-to-door canvassing, we helped to defeat the nation’s worst member of Congress, the nation’s worst Senator, and the nation’s worst governor. We helped to elect new humane leaders to Congress, and send some enemies of animal welfare back to the private sector. And we helped to win landslide victories for animals on statewide ballot measures where we faced vigorous opposition campaigns from the agribusiness and hunting lobbies.
In the U.S. Senate, 86% of HSLF endorsed candidates won, and 91% in the U.S. House. This is a remarkable start for the first year of HSLF political activity. Highlights of the key races are below.
Rep. Richard Pombo Goes Back to The Ranch
In California’s 11th District, U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (R), named the “leading opponent of animal welfare in Congress” by HSLF, was defeated by energy expert Jerry McNerney (D) by a margin of 9,000 votes. Pombo, the powerful chairman of the House Resources Committee, has wreaked havoc on nearly every animal welfare bill in his fourteen years in office. He has traveled internationally to support the resumption of commercial whaling in Japan, and he has defended horse slaughter, trapping in national wildlife refuges, bear baiting on federal lands, and countless cruel practices.
Pombo was HSLF’s top target for defeat, and was also targeted by environmental groups such as Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. HSLF aired radio ads in Pombo’s district, sent mailings to tens of thousands of voters, and walked door-to-door in the district pointing out his extreme record on animal welfare. Jerry McNerney is a supporter of animal welfare, and we are thrilled that he will be coming to Washington in place of Pombo. Before HSLF and Defenders got involved, Pombo was considered invulnerable and not a candidate for defeat.
Sen. Conrad Burns Falls Off His Horse
What Pombo was to the U.S. House of Representatives, Conrad Burns (R) was to the U.S. Senate. As chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he slipped a rider into an omnibus bill in 2004 that repealed the protections held by wild horses and burros for more than three decades, and allowed these animals to be sold for commercial slaughter legally. Not only did he take an anti-animal position, but he did it in an un-democratic way, with no hearings or public debate.
Burns has been the leading opponent of legislation to stop the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in France, Belgium, and other countries. Even though the Senate voted last year 69-28 to stop horse slaughter, and the House has voted five times to stop horse slaughter, Burns has managed to block the legislation from becoming law. Burns lost a squeaker to state Senate President Jon Tester (D), by a margin of about 3,000 votes. With Burns out of the way, the prospects for the passage of the anti-slaughter legislation improve dramatically.
HSLF Bears Down on Gov. Robert Ehrlich
Only one gubernatorial race in the country rose to the level of HSLF’s attention, and it took place in Maryland. Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) has changed Maryland’s landscape for animals, for the worse, in his four years in the state’s top job. Due to his allegiance to the NRA and other trophy hunting groups, he repealed the state’s 51-year ban on trophy hunting of black bears, repealed the state’s 280-year ban on Sunday hunting, and repealed the state’s centuries-long ban on crossbow hunting. Before he was governor, he voted in Congress to subsidize the trophy hunting of African elephants and give millions of dollars to the luxury coat industry, and he opposed legislation to protect dolphins from drowning in tuna fishing nets.
HSLF ran television ads in Maryland on the opening day of Ehrlich’s bear hunting season, urging voters to oppose his reelection. HSLF sent mailings to 70,000 Maryland voters, and volunteers canvassed door-to-door in every corner of the Free State. Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley (D), a supporter of animal welfare, defeated Ehrlich by a vote of 53% to 47%. Humane issues clearly played a role in this close race.
Animal Welfare Enemies Sent Packing
In addition to Pombo, Burns, and Ehrlich, HSLF targeted a few others for defeat through mailings, ads, and grassroots outreach, and our efforts paid off in a big way. In Missouri, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent (R) had consistently done poorly on animal welfare issues. He voted to allow the slaughter of American horses so the French can eat horse meat as a delicacy, and has refused to support the most modest animal welfare reforms. He is being replaced by State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D), who won narrowly by just 40,000 votes out of more than two million cast. McCaskill is a strong animal welfare advocate, who has gone after the state’s notorious “puppy mills” and has pledged her support for other humane issues.
In North Carolina’s 11th District, HSLF worked to defeat U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor (R), who had voted against nearly every animal welfare bill, including one to ban pornographic “crush” videos; he was defeated by ex-football player Heath Shuler (D) by just over 17,000 votes. In Pennsylvania’s 10th District, HSLF worked to defeat U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood (R), another opponent of animal welfare issues; he was defeated by professor Chris Carney (D) by just over 22,000 votes.
Friends of Animals Hang On to Victory
Many leaders for animal welfare from both parties in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House faced very tough reelection efforts. HSLF was there for them, with ads in their districts, mailings to voters, and grassroots outreach, and we helped them remain in office. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington, one of the most reliable supporters of animal welfare in the Senate, has been declared the victor in her re-election race which was slated to be especially close. Other strong champions of animal welfare were also reelected in the Senate, including Sen. John Ensign (R) of Nevada, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, Sen. Robert Byrd (D) of West Virginia, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) of New York, Sen. Herb Kohl (D) of Wisconsin, and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts.
In the U.S. House, there were dozens of competitive races, and many of our good friends were in jeopardy. Rep. Chris Shays (R), the co-chair of the Friends of Animals Caucus and the lead sponsor of three animal protection bills, held on in Connecticut’s 4th District by just 6,500 votes. Rep. Deb Pryce (R), a strong animal advocate, was locked in a very competitive race, and she prevailed by 11,000 votes in Ohio’s 15th District with the help of HSLF. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), author of legislation to crack down on abusive “puppy mills” and supporter of numerous other humane issues, defeated Lois Murphy (D) by just 3,000 votes in Pennsylvania’s 6th District. Rep. John Spratt (D), the co-author of legislation to stop horse slaughter, won reelection in South Carolina’s 5th District. And Rep. Mike Ferguson (R), a 100% supporter of animal protection and lead sponsor of legislation to require labeling of fur-trimmed garments, won in New Jersey’s 7th District by just 3,000 votes. Other House leaders on animal welfare issues such as Rep. Gary Ackerman (D), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D), Rep. Elton Gallegly (R), and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) were reelected.
Losses For The Animals
It wasn’t all good news, unfortunately. Some leaders on animal welfare issues faced very tough fights, and even though we pulled for them, it wasn’t enough. We’re very sad to report that some of our best leaders will be leaving Congress this year. Sen. Rick Santorum (R) of Pennsylvania, the lead author of legislation to crack down on abusive “puppy mills” and a stalwart supporter of animal welfare issues, lost his reelection bid to Robert Casey, Jr. (D). Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) of Rhode Island, a good friend to animals and the co-author of legislation to stop the commerce in primates for the exotic pet trade, lost his reelection bid to Sheldon Whitehouse (D).
Rep. John Sweeney (R), the lead author of legislation to ban horse slaughter, lost his bid for reelection in New York’s 20th District to Kristen Gillibrand (D). And Rep. Charles Bass (R), a supporter of Sweeney’s horse slaughter bill and the lead author of legislation to protect Yellowstone bison, lost to Paul Hodes (D) in New Hampshire’s 2nd District. HSLF was not against their opponents so much as for these animal-friendly lawmakers. We will congratulate the victors in these races and ask these newly elected lawmakers to match the commitment of their predecessors on animal welfare issues.
Direct Democracy at The Ballot Box
In addition to working on candidate races, HSLF also won two landslide victories in statewide ballot measures. Michigan voters crushed Proposal 3, a measure that would have allowed mourning dove hunting. Doves have been protected in Michigan since 1905, although groups such as the NRA have worked for years to reverse the state’s longstanding tradition of protecting these gentle, backyard songbirds. The legislature narrowly passed a bill in 2004 to allow dove shooting for the first time, and Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the bill into law after initially promising to veto it. More than 5,000 Michigan volunteers, led by humane and conservation groups, gathered more than 275,000 signatures to place the issue before voters.
The NRA and other hunting groups supported a “Yes” vote to allow a dove shooting season, while HSLF, The Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Humane Society, Michigan Audubon Society, Michigan State Grange, and many other groups urged a “No” vote. Most major newspapers in the state, including the Detroit Free Press, Traverse City Record-Eagle and Kalamazoo Gazette, urged a “No” vote. Proposal 3 went down in flames by 69 percent to 31 percent. All 83 counties in Michigan went “No” on Proposal 3, and the dove protection campaign eclipsed the dove shooting campaign by nearly 1.4 million votes. More than 2.5 million Michigan voters said “No” to shooting doves, which is more than the number of people who voted for any single statewide candidate in Michigan.
Arizona voters approved Proposition 204 in a lopsided vote, giving the measure about 62 percent approval with only 38 percent opposing. The measure bans the intensive confinement of breeding pigs and veal calves in tiny crates on corporate factory farms, where the animals cannot turn around or stretch their limbs. It will provide more humane treatment of farm animals and will stop the spread of corporate factory farms in Arizona. The estimated 16,000 breeding pigs now housed on factory farms in Arizona are kept in gestation crates which prevent them from engaging in natural behaviors.
HSLF, The Humane Society of the United States, Arizona Humane Society, Animal Defense League of Arizona, and Farm Sanctuary led the effort to pass Proposition 204. The measure was endorsed by the Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, Arizona Daily Star and other major papers, and was supported by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Paul Harvey and many others. The National Pork Producers Council, Arizona Farm Bureau, Center for Consumer Freedom and other groups pumped $2.5 million into a deceptive campaign to fool voters into thinking Proposition 204 was backed by “extremist” groups, but Arizona voters clearly rebuked this blatantly dishonest campaign. Eleven of Arizona’s fifteen counties went “Yes” on Proposition 204, and the “Yes” campaign eclipsed the “No” campaign by more than 260,000 votes.
While doves “cooed” to victory in Michigan and farm animals will have better lives in Arizona, voters across the country also proved that the humane movement can have a real impact in candidate elections. To pass humane laws, we must elect humane legislators. Thank you for all your help, and for getting political for animals this election season.
Paid for by Humane Society Legislative Fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. HSLF, 519 C Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.