Animal Wellness Action celebrated the overwhelming passage of two animal protection ballot measure wins in Florida and California, and the defeat of its top two political targets in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Florida voters went all in for a ban on greyhound racing, approving it with a stunning 69 percent of the vote and winning majority votes in more than 60 of the state’s 67 counties. Animal Wellness Action was one of the primary sponsors of the measure, donating nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the campaign and helping direct its strategy. Given that 11 of 17 operating tracks in Florida race dogs, the passage of Amendment 13 is a potential death-blow to the entire national industry, which is about to lose its major venues. In California, voters approved Proposition 12 with 61 percent of the vote, expanding space requirements for millions of farm animal and barring the sale of veal, pork, or eggs in the state that are raised in extreme confinement operations. The sales restrictions will help accelerate the national transition to a cage-free future in American agriculture.
The wins in California and Florida mark the second consecutive election cycle where voters swept pro-animal ballot measures, and it further establishes that animal protection issues have among the highest win rates for any category of ballot measures in the contemporary political era. We’ve won the five ballot measures in 2016 and 2018 – all on tough, cutting edge issues – with the support of 60 percent of more of state voters.
Animal Wellness Action helped defeat two virulently anti-animal lawmakers in Texas and California. In a north Dallas area district, Colin Allred defeated House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, ending a 20-year career for a lawmaker who blocked countless animal welfare reforms as the gatekeeper of House floor action. Congressman-elect Allred is a staunch animal advocate who broadcast his views about animal welfare on his website and in other communications. Action targeted 40,000 swing voters with a mix of mail, phone, digital ads, and grassroots activism, and that work proved decisive in securing a key win that helped the Democrats reclaim the House majority.
In California, it appears we had success in helping Harley Rouda oust 30-year incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California in a wealthy swath of Orange County. Election officials are still counting late ballots, but Rouda is ahead by more than 2,000 votes and is expected to hold on. As with the Sessions race, we targeted 40,000 key voters, and made in difference in exposing Rohrabacher’s unconscionable record of supporting the dog meat trade, animal fighting in U.S. territories, and horse slaughter. Rouda’s service will provide a sharp contrast to Rohrabacher’s, especially on animal issues.
We are also excited to work with a range of lawmakers Animal Wellness Action PAC supported, including Cindy Axne (Iowa-3), Ben McAdams (Utah-4), Kim Schrier, (Washington-8), Susie Lee (Nevada-3), and Steve Horsford (Nevada-4). McAdams ousted Congresswoman Mia Love, who had a zero score on our Congressional Accountability Tool, and Horsford defeated Crescent Hardy, who in a prior House term aligned himself with the NRA and agribusiness interests. All of these Representatives-elect will be staunch advocates of animal protection and fortify our already robust support in the House.
Pro-animal Republicans Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1-PA) prevailed in tight races. Each of them has carried far-reaching and critical animal protection legislation, and their active work on our issues is crucial to our future success. They deserved re-election, and we are delighted that they’ve prevailed in close races in a tough political environment for Republicans.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night for Animal Wellness Action was Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s Senate victory in Tennessee. Blackburn has been a staunch foe of animal protection, but her challenger was not able to overcome the political advantages she leveraged in the Volunteer State. We are also worried about Missouri’s Attorney General Josh Hawley’s defeat of Claire McCaskill, a two-term Senator who had a strong record on animal issues. Hawley has not demonstrated a sensitivity to animal issues in his prior public service, and we hope as he comes to the send he will gain an understanding that there’s never a defense of cruel or any other forms of harsh exploitation of animals.
Nevada Senator-elect Jackie Rosen had a perfect record on the Congressional Accountability Tool and we know she’ll be a big ally in the Senate. We look forward to working with Florida Governor and now Senator-elect Rick Scott, who has always demonstrated an open mind on animal issues. In fact, he publicly endorsed the greyhound racing ban during this election cycle, and his support, along with outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi and Lara Trump proved important in shoring up conservative support for the ballot measure. In Arizona, Congresswoman Martha McSally is ahead in the race for Senator Jeff Flake’s seat. McSally, a vegan, is the author of the Humane Cosmetics Act, and is an ardent animal protection advocate. She’ll be a crucial ally to animal protection in that chamber if she prevails.
Animal protection made some of its biggest gains in governor’s races, with pro-animal leaders Jared Polis of Colorado, Michele Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan prevailing in key battles in crucial states for us. We expect Gavin Newsom in California and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois to bring strong leadership on animal issues, too. Pro-animal incumbent Republican governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire won their re-election campaigns, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to continue to work with them to make their states even safer for animals.
Taking a broad lens to the national elections, animal protection advocates made enormous gains, setting our cause up for even more progress in Congress and the states, driving home the message that disregarding animal issues are a political hazard to entrenched lawmakers, and in ballot measure campaigns yet again demonstrating that mainstream Americans favor animal protection by lopsided margins and want reform.
In our first six months of operation, Animal Wellness Action has proven we can – and will – make a difference for all animals. We are a powerful new force to be reckoned with in the realm of politics and policy-making.
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