Shooting geese kills Kerry, Voting machines steal greyhound victory in Florida

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2004:

CLEVELAND–Democratic Party presidential
nominee John Kerry either forgot or took for
granted the 40% of Ohio voters who supported a
failed 1998 ballot initiative that sought to
reinstate a ban on dove hunting. The initiative
was heavily supported by young voters and women.
On October 21, 2004, Kerry in the words
of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd “cooked
his own goose.”
Wrote Dowd, “In yet another attempt to
prove to George W. Bush that he is man enough to
run this country, John Kerry made an animal
sacrifice to the political gods in a cornfield in
eastern OhioŠTromping about in a camouflage
costume and toting a 12-gauge double-barreled
shotgun that shrieked ‘I am not a merlot-loving,
brie-eating, chatelaine-marrying dilettante,’
the Democratic nominee emerged from his shooting
spree with three fellow hunters proclaiming,
‘Everybody got one,’ showing off a hand stained
with goose blood.”

Dowd, no fan of Bush, waxed sarcastic
about Kerry for most of 1,000 words.
The young voters and anti-hunting women
of Ohio didn’t need 1,000 words to be convinced
by the photos of Kerry red-handed that there was
no difference between him and Bush big enough to
be worth casting ballots.
Kerry won the Humane USA Political Action
Committee endorsement despite shooting two
pheasants in a Halloween 2003 photo-op, during
the Iowa primary campaign.
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucin-ich, a
longtime vegan, was the only non-hunter to enter
the primaries, and was never a strong contender.
But Kucinich is strong in Cleveland.
Elected mayor at age 31, after two terms as a
city councilor, Kucinich later served in the Ohio
Senate. On November 2, 2004 Kucinich won 60% of
the votes in his fifth election to the House of
Kerry took 67% of the record turnout in
Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located,
and actually won two and a half times as many
votes as Kucinich–but the county is divided
among four House districts.
What Kerry did not do is win enough votes
from young voters and women, either in Cleveland
or elsewhere in Ohio, to overcome the numbers of
hunters who were going to oppose him no matter
Kerry could have won if young voters and
women had turned out proportionate to new voter
registration. They did not.
Internet bulletin boards, blogs, chat
rooms, and e-mails to ANIMAL PEOPLE indicated
that the bird-shooting episodes kept them home,
and kept President George W. Bush in the White
The National Shooting Sports Foundation
claimed 60% of hunters and shooters voted for
Bush over Kerry in Ohio.
“Sportsmen did not buy into John Kerry’s
johnny-come-lately hunter disguise,” National
Shooting Sports Foundation president Doug Painter
said. “Sportsmen clearly saw through the

House & Senate

The pro-gun turnout for Bush carried over
to the House and U.S. Senate races.
Of 251 House of Representatives
candidates endorsed by the National Rifle
Association, 241 were elected. Fourteen of the
18 U.S. Senate candidates endorsed by the NRA
won, for “a net gain of four pro-gun senators,”
according to the NRA web site, “with additions
in Florida, Louisiana, North and South Carolina
and South Dakota, and a loss in Colorado.”
Both the NRA and Humane USA claimed as a victory
the re-election of Pennsylvania Republican
Senator Arlen Specter–by a very narrow margin.
Humane USA was formed in 1999 by
executives of the Humane Society of the U.S. and
the Fund for Animals, which have now all but
completed a merger, joined by representatives of
Farm Sanctuary, the American SPCA, the Doris
Day Animal League, the Animal Welfare Institute,
and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.
Humane USA-endorsed candidates won 18
Senatorial races and lost 6. In the House,
Humane USA-endorsed candidates won 209 races and
lost 5.
“Humane USA scored a major victory in its
most high-profile race,” the PAC claimed, “by
narrowly ending U.S. Represent-ative Chris John’s
run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.
John, a Democrat, is an outspoken advocate of
cockfighting,” a PAC release explained. “Humane
USA sent more than 300,000 pieces of mail to
Louisiana voters, and ran TV ads in New Orleans,
Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette urging
his defeat. Under Louisiana’s open primary
system, it was assumed that no one would get 50%
of the votes and that the top two candidates
would face each other in a runoff. Thanks in
part to Humane USA, U.S. Representative David
Vitter, a Republican who opposes cockfighting
and has supported other animal protection bills,
won 51%.”
Said New Orelans activist Pinckney Wood,
“Vitter has been a disappointment on a number of
animal issues, but just about anybody would be
better than Chris John.”
Humane USA also claimed to have helped to
defeat U.S. Representative Charles Stenholm, the
ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture
Committee, but Stenholm was among the main
targets of redistricting directed by Republican
Representative Tom DeLay. Shunted into a
district redesigned to exclude Democrat voters,
Stenholm was rated only an outside chance of
political survival.
Stenholm, Humane USA recalled, “was the
leading voice in Congress against the Downed
Animal Protection Act.”

Prairie dogs

A possibly more noteworthy defeat, in a
race where there was no pro-animal candidate,
was the ouster of former Senate minority leader
Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), by Republican
challenge John Thune.
Washington Post staff writer Blaine Harden
predicted on October 10 that the race would go to
the candidate who convinced ranchers that he most
hates prairie dogs.
“Daschle has moved on several fronts this
year to demonstrate his profound antipathy toward
the rodent,” wrote Harden. “He has pressured
the Interior Department to drop the black-tailed
prairie dog as a candidate for protection as a
threatened species, supported a controversial
plan for them to be poisoned on federal land,
and says they are ‘threatening the quality of
life in western South Dakota.'”
The state of South Dakota was eventually
allowed to kill prairie dogs on 13,000 acres of
private land surrounding the Buffalo Gap National
Grasslands, and 5,000 acres inside, within the
last wild bastion of the endangered blackfooted
ferret. Twice believed extinct, the ferret eats
prairie dogs.
Calling prairie dogs “A symbol for
everything that is bad about how the government
takes care of its lands,” Thune claimed Daschle
only hated prairie dogs “after he was boxed into
a political corner.”
Friendly faces
Humane USA mentioned as animal-friendly
Senators who won re-election Barbara Boxer
(D-California), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas),
Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Harry Reid
Animal-friendly Representatives as
defined by Humane USA who were re-elected
included Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio (both
D-Oregon), Elton Gallegly (R-California), Marcy
Kaptur (D-Ohio), Jim Moran (D-Virginia), David
Price (D-North Carolina), Chris Shays and Rob
Simmons (both R-CT), and Ed Whitfield
Humane USA also saluted the election of
first-time Representative Joe Schwartz
(R-Michigan) and first-time Senator Barak Obama
The California political action committee
Paw-PAC endorsed three ballot propositions with
indirect implications for animal issues, two of
which passed; 15 state senate candidates, 10 of
whom won; and 51 state assembly candidates, 41
of whom won, including Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley).
In 1972, as a Berkeley city councilor,
Hancock introduced the resolution that made
Berkeley the first U.S. city to stop killing
impounded animals by decompression. The
resolution was seconded by Ron Dellums, who had
a strong pro-animal record as a 14-term member of
the House of Representatives.


The closest approach to a clear win for
animals on Election Day 2004 came in Florida.
Grey 2K USA initially appeared to have had a
decisive role in defeating proposed Amendment 4
by about 6,000 votes. Guised as a way to
increase school funding without raising taxes,
Amendment 4 would allow greyhound tracks to
operate slot machines, subject to local voter
The Amendment 4 campaign split
conservative voters. Anti-tax elements favored
it. Track owners spent $25 million to pass it,
but evangelical churches mostly opposed it.
For 24 hours Grey 2K USA volunteers
thought they had helped to tilt the balance by
walking ex-racing greyhounds and distributing
literature near polling stations, much as the
Arizona Greyhound Protection Alliance did to
defeat a comparable initiative in 2002.
“Then, mysteriously, an additional
78,000 votes appeared in Broward County,” Grey
2K founders Carey Theil and Christine Dorchak
e-mailed to supporters. “90% of these were
counted as ‘Yes’ votes.”
Instead of losing, Amendment 4 passed by
enough votes to escape the mandatory recount that
Florida now requires if issues are decided by
less than 5% of the ballots.
“Broward County corrected a computer
glitch that had miscounted thousands of absentee
votes,” reported Erika Bolstad and Curtis Morgan
of the Tampa Tribune.
“The bug, discovered two years ago but
never fixed, began subtracting votes after the
absentee tally hit 32,500–a ceiling put in place
by the software makers,” ostensibly to prevent
ballot box stuffing.
“The problem,” Bolstad and Morgan wrote,
“resulted in the shocking discovery of about
70,000 votes for Amendment 4, a measure allowing
a [local] referendum on Las Vegas-style slots at
parimutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward. It came
to light just after Broward’s canvassing board
shut down.”
“Maybe this was a string of
coincidences,” state representative Randy
Johnson (R-Celebration) told Dara Kam of the Palm
Beach Post. “If it is, that’s amazing.”
Johnson heads No Casinos, Inc., formed to oppose Amendment 4.
“Amendment 4 opponents are pre-paring legal action,” Thiel and Dorchak said

“Three strikes” law

Animal advocates also claimed a role in
defeating California Proposition 66, 53% to 47%.
Proposition 66 would have amended the California
“three strikes” law to release three-time felons
from life sentences if not all of their felonies
were “violent” or “serious.”
Los Angeles Times staff writer Claire Luna may
have decisively tipped public opinion against
Proposition 66 with an October 9 expose of how
the bill would affect felons whose strikes
included cruelty to animals.
“Prosecutors say James Andrew Abernathy
once forced his sister to play Russian roulette.
He stabbed two men. Six years ago, they say,
police stopped him in his car with a samurai
sword that he planned to use on his ex-wife’s new
husband. Reflecting on this history,” Luna
wrote, “an Orange County judge used the
California three strikes law to give Abernathy,
43, a heavy sentence for the relatively lesser
crime of animal cruelty. Convicted of beheading
his dog to spite a girlfriend, Abernathy is to
spend 25 years to life in prison. If state voters
approve Proposition 66, he will be released soon
after the new law takes effect.”
Superior Court Judge Kazuhari Makino said
he took into account in rendering his sentence
that Abernathy beat the dog with a golf club and
drove a stake through her heart before beheading
her, involving a considerable amount of
sustained, deliberate behavior. Abernathy’s
sister wrote to the court that as a teenager
Abernathy had beheaded a pet boa constrictor to
scare her, and filled the family refrigerator
with the bodies of skinned animals to scare their
“No one has ever said that 25 years to
life is a suitable punishment for animal
cruelty,” McGeorge School of Law professor
Michael Vitiello told Luna. Voters disagreed.

Hunting initiatives

November 2004 was the first general
election since 1992 in which voters failed to
approve any pro-animal state ballot initiatives.
Right-to-hunt amendments, however, were
added to the constitutions of Louis-iana and
Montana. Both amendments were approved by
margins of approximately 4-to-1. The Montana
amendment drew 81% after polling only 53% support
in a September 2004 survey commissioned by the
Billings Gazette.
Ballot initiatives seeking to ban baiting
bears in Maine and Alaska drew just 47% and 41%
of the vote, respectively. The Maine measure
would also have prohibited hunting bears with
Seventeen of the 28 states that permit
hunting bears already prohibit baiting them into
shooting range, but pro-baiting campaigners
successfully framed the issue as a stealth attack
on hunting of any kind.
“If they do that [ban baiting], the next
thing they’re going to do is take away our guns,”
71-year-old Maggie Ross of Two Rivers, Alaska,
told Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Tim
Mowry, repeating precisely the impression that
trophy hunting outfitters had labored to create.
“Opponents spent eight times more money
than ban supporters,” Humane USA pointed out.
Confirmed Anchorage Daily News reporter
Joel Gay, “Various chapters of the Safari Club
International, including several in Alaska, gave
more than $100,000,” to defeat the anti-baiting
initiative, “and the Ohio-based U.S. Sportsmen’s
Alliance gave $50,000. The biggest single
contributor was the Virginia-based Ballot Issues
Coalition. Formed in 1998 to fight ballot
initiatives on wildlife issues, it gave Alaskans
for Professional Wildlife Management more than
$150,000. In 2000 it helped finance an
unsuccessful effort to ban all Alaska citizen
initiatives about wildlife.”
The proposed bear baiting ban failed just
before the Alaska Board of Game on November 5
expanded predator control to make more moose and
caribou available to hunters. Encouraged by
Governor Frank Murkowski, whose daughter Lisa
Murkowski inherited and kept his former U.S.
Senate seat, the Board of Game allowed airborne
hunters to kill 144 wolves last winter in the
McGrath and Nelchina Basin areas. This winter,
hunters may kill up to 400 wolves and 80 grizzly
bears, over much expanded territory.
Supporters of the Maine anti-bear baiting
initiative were also hugely outspent.
“We´re not going to go away,” pledged
Robert Fisk of Maine Citizens for Fair Bear
Hunting. “Never before has the public known as
much about these practices. Never have so many
people wanted them ended.”
A related issue that did not seem to be
going away, however, was the funding and
purpose of Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting.
Most of the money invested in seeking the
anti-bear baiting initiative came from the Humane
Society of the U.S., with some contributions
from the Fund for Animals, soon to complete a
merger with HSUS, and from the American SPCA.
Several HSUS trustees are Maine
residents, but the relatively small sum donated
to the campaign by individual Mainers allowed the
Maine Sportsmen’s Alliance to portray Maine
Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting as a duplicitous
front for committed anti-hunters.
New Jersey animal advocate Stuart
Chaifetz meanwhile objected in the October 2004
edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE that the rhetoric HSUS
et al used in support of the anti-bear baiting
initiative “not only endorsed hunting, but
defended actions against specific forms of
hunting with the argument that the changes will
lead to more hunting.”
The purpose of the Alaska and Maine
anti-bear baiting initiatives was a bit obscure.
Prohibiting hunting bears with hounds clearly
reduces painful injuries to both the bears and
the dogs, but initiative supporters appeared to
deny that their goal was to keep bears from being
killed, and never made a clear case that
shooting bears over bait–typically at closer
range, with fewer shots–is more cruel than
shooting them any other way.
“This campaign has exposed the
good-old-boy network that is managing our
wildlife,” Fisk told Associated Press.


No U.S. Presidential administration has
been exposed more, on more fronts, than that of
George W. Bush–including good-old-boy management
of wildlife and habitat.
Within a week of the November election,
127 scientists including primatologist Jane
Goodall and entomologist E.O. Wilson, plus 110
economists including Nobel laureate Kenneth
Arrow, petitioned against Bush administration
plans to open 58 million acres of national forest
to roadbuilding and logging.
EarthJustice and Defenders of Wildlife
sued the Bush administration for canceling a 1982
rule requiring the U.S. Forest Service to
maintain “viable populations” of non-endangered
wildlife, as well as to avoid harming endangered
The National Wildlife Federation sued the
Farm Service Agency over how Bush appointees
interpret language in the 2002 Farm Bill that
allows grazing and haying on federal Conservation
Reserve Program land during the nesting seasons
for ground-nesting birds.
Aware that exposure alone will not change
anything, if not translated into votes,
Colorado activist Judy Reed issued nightly
updates on Bush administration policies about
animals and habitat throughout the election
campaign, c/o <>.
New Jersey bird photographer Ted Cross’
web site <> claimed
35,000 hits a day.
The Forest Ecology Network distributed a
16-page newspaper all about “Bush vs. the
The Sierra Club and League of
Conservation Voters registered more than half a
million environmentally conscious voters in the
11 “battleground” states.”

Good old boys & girls

Meanwhile Florida Governor Jeb Bush,
brother of the president, rewarded Southeastern
Legal Foundation chair Kathy Barco for reportedly
donating more than $10,000 to Republican
candidates by naming her to the Florida Fish &
Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Founded in 1976, the Southeastern Legal
Foundation is a leading opponent of environmental
regulation affecting property rights. A trustee
of the foundation since 1995, Barco became chair
in 2000.
Barco, 45, a realtor, heads
Barco-Duval Engineering, which according to St.
Petersburg Times staff writer Craig Pittman has
done at least three recent construction jobs for
government agencies in ecologically sensitive
“Barco is an avid angler who also enjoys
skeet shooting and, occasionally, hunting and
water skiing. She owns a 45-foot boat. She
belongs to Safari Club International and Ducks
Unlimited, and is a former Florida member of the
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission,”
Pittman reported.
As well as regulating hunting and
fishing, the seven-member Florida Fish &
Wildlife Conservation Commission oversees
nautical speed limits in manatee habitat.
Barco replaced builder John Rood, “a
major fundraiser for the Bushes who was recently
named ambassador to the Bahamas,” Pittman said.

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