October 23, 2018

Endorsements and Analysis for the November Elections –  U.S. House of Representatives

Animal Wellness Action, a non-partisan entity that looks solely at the stances and voting, leadership, and cosponsorship records of candidates on animal issues, has announced approximately 200 endorsements of candidates for Congress and for governor’s races, forecasting that Democrats are likely to regain the majority in the House after 8 years in the minority and that strongly pro-animal Democrats are poised to win races for governor in a half dozen states. Action believes that the Senate will stay in the Republican hands, but there are some particularly important some key races in that chamber.

Action has endorsed pro-animal Republicans Jeff Denham (CA-10)Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1)Vern Buchanan (FL-15), and Peter Roskam (IL-6). Each of these incumbent Republicans, fighting for their political lives in this cycle, has demonstrated outstanding leadership on animal issues, advancing a series of pro-animal bills and amendments and advocating within their caucus for a more meaningful focus on animal issues.

Serving on both the Agriculture and Natural Resources committees, Denham has led the fight in the House against the King amendment to the Farm Bill and pushed for the enactment of a separate amendment to the agriculture measure to ban the sale of dog and cat meat. He’s also one of the leaders of the Pet and Women Safety Act, which would provide protections for pets of domestic violence victims, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would ban the trade in lions, tigers, and other animals for the pet trade.

Fitzpatrick is one of only two Republicans to score a perfect 10 of 10 on the Congressional Accountability Tool, and he’s also the author of two anti-puppy mill bills. Buchanan is the co-chairman of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, the lead sponsor of the anti-horse slaughter bill, and opponent of several Republican-led bills to gut the Endangered Species Act. Roskam led the successful floor amendment to the Farm Bill that would crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting in U.S. Territories, such as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, where dogfighting is legal.

We are also in favor incumbent Republicans Fred Upton (MI-6) and Peter King (NY-3) for their outstanding records of support on animal protection.

On the other side of the political fence, Action has launched independent expenditure campaigns to oust three incumbent Republicans – Pete Sessions (TX-32), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), and Mike Bost (IL-12). Along with Marsha Blackburn (TN-7), Don Young (Alaska-At Large) and Steve King (IA-4) they are among the worst anti-animal politicians in the U.S.

Sessions has leveraged his position as House Rules Committee chairman to block consideration of a series of pro-animal House bills and amendments – to stop horse slaughter and horse soring, for example – even though the measures commanded enormous bipartisan support. He also blocked a bill from being considered on the Farm Bill that would have stopped the extreme confinement of laying hens in battery cages. On the floor, he even opposed Roskam’s amendment on animal fighting, supported a Republican amendment to block an Obama-era rulemaking effort to curtail the ivory trade in the United States, and backed de-listing of wolves in the Great Lakes region.

Rohrabacher joined Sessions in opposing efforts to crack down on animal fighting and the ivory trade and to promote the killing of wolves and bears. He’s also spoken out in favor of the eating of dogs and cats, and he’s been adamantly against the ban on the slaughter of wild and domesticated horses, even though California forbids the practice.

Prior to his service in Congress, Bost opposed an effort in the Illinois legislature to forbid horse slaughter there, and he helped with an effort to open up trophy hunting of bobcats in the state. In his first term in Congress starting in 2017, he didn’t waste any time in supporting efforts to reverse bans on the inhumane and unsporting killing of grizzly bears and wolves on national wildlife refuges and national preserves.

Former NLF player Colin Allred is running a competitive race against Sessions in the north Dallas area, and businessman Harley Rouda is challenging Rohrabacher in a wealthy, suburban district in Orange County. Brendan Kelly has a steeper climb to defeat Bost in southwest Illinois, but pundits consider the race competitive. All three Democrat challengers are strong animal advocates and would finally represent their constituents in a way that is consistent with their animal protection values.

We are also excited about other pro-animal candidates, including Cindy Axne (IA-3), Kim Schrier (WA-9), and Ben McAdams (UT-3), who is facing off against anti-animal freshman Republican Mia Love. In a battle between two former U.S. House Members, we strongly favor Steven Horsford over Crescent Hardy in Nevada’s 4th Congressional district. And in an open seat in southern California, Mike Levin (CA-49) looks like he’s in a strong position to win the seat long held by the departing Darryl Issa, who had a miserable record on animal issues.

In terms of party control, the Democrats would almost certainly do far better for our cause than the Republicans if they win the chamber. Republican leaders in the House have been weak in advancing animal protection priorities. In the current Congress, there are bipartisan majorities of the House that have signed onto six separate bills; yet House leaders have allowed a vote on just one of them, partly because of the recalcitrance and anti-animal ideology of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-1). If Democrats take the House, pro-animal lawmakers Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) would take over the Natural Resources and Judiciary committees. Based on their past performance, these lawmakers and other top Democrats would drive forward strong animal protection agendas in their committees.

To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We hope you’ll consider our assessment in making your voting choices. It’s critical that all humane-minded voters get out and vote in this election.

In our next edition of The Political Animal, there will be more to come on races for the U.S. Senate. 

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