Big gains for pro-animal issues, candidates may send a message to the White House and Congress
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2002:
WASHINGTON D.C.–Anxiety intensified on November 5 about the
future of wild animals who depend upon protected habitat, as the
Republican Party won a one-vote U.S. Senate majority to go with their
majority in the House of Representatives.
There is no longer a partisan obstacle to advancing proposals
favored by the George W. Bush administration to weaken federal
habitat protections of every kind.
The Bush administration is on record as favoring oil drilling
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, weakening the Endangered
Species Act, exempting the U.S. military from having to observe it,
expanding access for off-road vehicles and speedboats to protected
land and water, and further expanding hunting, fishing, and
trapping in National Wildlife Refuges–although there are barely
enough refuges left that forbid hunting, fishing, and trapping for
any president to match the pace at which former President Bill
Clinton expanded hunting, fishing, and trapping access before the
1996 Presidential election.
Yet the Republicans have only a one-seat majority in the U.S.
Senate. The Bush family is sufficiently aware of the voting clout of
animal lovers that President Bush frequently posed with his
cats–since given away–during the 2000 election campaign. First
Lady Laura Bush even made a highly publicized May 29 appearance at a
benefit for the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, of Medina, Texas,
founded by songwriter and author Kinky Friedman. Tickets sold at
$1,000 per plate raised $125,000, nearly triple the receipts from a
similar benefit held at the ranch one year earlier.
Expected to seek re-election in 2004, Bush is likely to have
noticed the pro-animal positions of voters on five out of six
animal-related state ballot initiatives this year. He may also have
observed the overwhelming success of candidates endorsed by animal
protection groups. Despite the heavy White House debt to the oil
industry, habitat defenders might win many of the forthcoming
Congressional battles –if they emphasize the plight of animals, not
the scenic purity of remote rocks and ice.
The allegation that excluding motor vehicles from protected
habitat and restricting boat speeds amounts to denying access to
people other than fit young hikers and owners of sailing yachts can
be refuted by using visual images of wildlife fleeing from offroad
vehicles, and of manatees in particular suffering from
The way to victory was illuminated on November 5 in Arizona,
Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
Arizona voters crushed Proposition 201, to allow slot
machines at greyhound tracks, 80% to 20%.
“This is a monumental victory for the greyhounds,” said
Carey Theil and Christine Dorchak of Grey2K USA in a joint statement.
“Had Proposition 201 passed, several dog tracks that have been
closed for many years would have reopened. This would have meant
that more greyhounds would have been bred and killed.”
Grey2K credited Grey-hound Network News editor Joan Eidinger
and Stephanie Nichols-Young of the Animal Defense League of Arizona
with leading the coalition, called the Arizona Greyhound Protection
Alliance, which overcame an $8 million campaign waged by track
owners in favor of Proposition 201.
Florida voters approved Amendment 10, to constitutionally
prohibit sow crating, 54%-46%. The first law adopted in any state
to ban a standard factory farming practice for humane reasons,
Amendment 10 is largely symbolic. Nationally, about two-thirds of
the 80,000 U.S. hog farms use sow crates, according to industry
sources, but there are only two factory-style hog farms in Florida,
one of which had already announced it would quit raising hogs by the
end of this year. Amendment 10 may help to keep other hog farms out
of Florida, but water quality regulations have already had the same
Georgia passed Amend-ment 6, 71%-29%, to fund a statewide
subsidized pet sterilization plan by selling a special vehicular
license plate. Similar license plate-funded programs are already in
effect in 19 states.
Oklahoma became the 48th state to ban cockfighting, passing
State Question 687 handily, 56% to 43%. Only Louisiana and New
Mexico still allow cockfighting–and many counties in New Mexico ban
Oklahoma voters also rejected, 54% to 46%, State Question
698, advanced by the alleged cockfighting front group Oklahomans for
Freedom of Choice. This would have required proponents of pro-animal
initiatives to gather twice as many petition signatures as proponents
of other legislation in order to qualify their initiatives for the
Now comes the fight to win enforcement of the cockfighting
ban. Oklahoma Governor-elect Brad Henry, a Democrat, is already
on record as arguing that the penalties for cockfighting prescribed
by SQ 698 are too severe. State senator Frank Sherden (D-Henryetta)
has pledged to eliminate the chance that cockfighters might be
jailed. McCurtain County district judge Willard Driesel on
November 7 ordered that the ban not be enforced in McCurtain,
Pushmataha, and Choctaw counties, pending a November 18 hearing on
the constitutionality of the measure.
The only ballot-box defeat of a pro-animal initiative came in
Arkansas, where the proposed Arkansas Animal Cruelty Act drew just
38% of the vote, despite the support of retired state Supreme Court
Justice David Newbern. Seeking to establish a felony cruelty
penalty, the proposal by Citizens for a Humane Arkansas was opposed
by the Farm Bureau Federation, the state Game and Fish Commission,
the Arkansas Poultry Federation, Ducks Unlimited, the University of
Arkansas Medical Sciences branch, the Arkansas Sheriffs’
Association, and the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.
Even the Democratic loss of the Senate majority brought an
apparent net gain for animals. The only Senator leaving office who
consistently won humane group endorsements was Robert Torricelli
(D-New Jersey), who withdrew his candidacy due to allegations of
accepting illegal campaign contributions. He will be succeeded by
fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg, a former U.S. Senator who came out
of retirement with similar endorsements and a similar voting record.
Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) retired and will be
succeeded by fellow Republican Elizabeth Dole. Helms consistently
opposed federal animal protection bills, and in early 2002
introduced an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, passed as part of
the 2002 Farm Bill, which permanently excludes rats, mice, and
birds used in laboratories from AWA protection. This exclusion has
been observed by the USDA ever since the 1970 passage of the Animal
Welfare Act, but it previously existed only in enforcement
regulations, which the U.S. Court of Appeals held in September 1998
violated the intent of the law.
Dole, the wife of former U.S. Senator Robert Dole
(R-Kansas), was believed to have influenced her husband to include a
proposal to improve federal protection of laboratory primates in his
platform during an unsuccessful bid for the 1988 Republican
nomination for U.S. President.
Later, heading the American Red Cross, Eliza-beth Dole was
credited with helping to strengthen the animal rescue group role
within Federal Emergency Management Authority disaster relief task
In addition, Sen-ator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) retired and will
be succeeded by fellow Republican John Cornyn. Cornyn won no humane
group endorsements, but Gramm, an ardent hunter, in 1987 allegedly
pressured then-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chief Frank Dunkle
into transferring Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge manager Don
Perkuchin to the Okefenokee swamp, in Florida, after Perkuchin
interrupted Gramm and friends as they approached an illegally baited
field near the refuge, apparently to hunt waterfowl.
The incident came to light after Gramm announced his intent
to seek the 1996 Republican nomination for U.S. President. Falling
far short, Gramm reputedly made the Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Law Enforcement pay a steep price in budget cuts for
having embarrassed him.
Among the candidates endorsed by Humane USA, a coalition
formed by the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Fund for Animals,
at least 207 of 217 were declared winners as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to
press, including seven of eight gubernatorial candidates, 15 of 19
candidates for the U.S. Senate, and 185 of 191 candidates for the
U.S. House. The House winners included the auspiciously named Bob
Endorsed incumbent Governor Donald Siegelman of Alabama and
incumbent Senator Mary L. Landreau of Louisiana, both Democrats,
could add to the totals. Siegelman claimed a disputed 3,139-vote
margin over Republican runner-up Bob Riley, but both drew just 49%
of the total votes in a race possibly decided by the presence of a
third-party candidate on the ballot. Landreau won 46% of the vote in
a nine-way race, and now faces a runoff against Republican
challenger Suzanne Torrell, who drew 27%.
Govs get it
The gubernatorial races of most interest to animal advocates
were in New England.
Rhode Island governor-elect Don Carcieri “won the Republican
nomination after running television ads criticizing a
multi-million-dollar state subsidy for greyhound kennel owners.
Democrat Tony Pires lost his bid for governor after holding a
fundraiser at the Lincoln Park greyhound track,” Grey2K explained.
Massachusetts governor-elect Mitt Romney, a Republican,
previously headed the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics organizing
committee. In that capacity, he offended the Chicago-based activist
group SHARK by condoning the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo, held
as part of the Cultural Olympiad. After leading SHARK to believe
that calf-roping would be excluded, Romney allowed the rodeo to go
on as scheduled.
SHARK responded by taking the Tiger TV van to Massa-chusetts
for the final week of the election campaign.
“On our second night out,” said SHARK founder Steve Hindi,
“we happened upon a debate among the five Massachusetts gubernatorial
candidates. Mitt was among them. Our four big video screens were
showing graphic video footage of rodeo animal abuse, and our
programmable digital signs were flashing ‘Shame on Mitt Romney.’
There were hundreds of supporters of the five candidates outside the
TV station that was hosting the debate. One of the most vocal groups
was that of candidate Romney. ‘We want Mitt! We want Mitt!’ they
shouted. The Tiger slowly drove through the crowd, who spilled into
the street. All eyes turned toward the truck. The Romney supporters
fell into silence, their jaws dropping. Almost immediately the
supporters of the four other candidates began chanting ‘Shame on
Mitt! Shame on Mitt!’
“We stayed until the debate was over and Mitt and his wife
Ann emerged,” Hindi continued. “The look on Mitt’s face when he saw
the Tiger was absolutely priceless. He looked aghast, and then
ducked behind some parked vehicles. But then, perhaps thinking he
was hallucinating, he ducked his head around again a couple of
times, staring in disbelief.”
State legislative candidates endorsed by animal advocacy
groups fared well.
The Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network and Political
Action Committee endorsed winners in five of seven state senate races
and 22 of 31 state house contests.
In California, all 12 state senate candidates endorsed by
Humane USA won, along with 43 of 45 state house candidates and all
seven candidates for other offices.
The most prominent local animal-related items on the November
5 ballot were proposals to open Sunday hunting in six counties of
West Virginia, where 35 counties reaffirmed the traditional Sunday
bans in May.
Sunday hunting has now been defeated by margins averaging
about 2-to-1 in all 41 counties where it has been put to a vote.
Also of note was a $10.8 million bond issue proposed in
Washoe County, Nevada, to fund building a new regional animal
control center. The Nevada Humane Society had already put up $2.5
million of the projected $13 million total cost. Property owners in
Washoe County outside Reno and Sparks, not already paying a
significant portion of the animal control budget, would be charged
an additional $7.00 per year per $100 of assessed valuation, wrote
Jeff DeLong of the Reno Gazette-Journal. Reno and Sparks residents
have already been funding animal control. Anti-tax activists fought
the bond issue, in a conservative stronghold, and at one point were
reportedly close to defeating it, according to pre-election polls.
Supporters raised $14,800 to promote the shelter bond issue,
however, and it was eventually overwhelmingly approved.