We knew for certain coming into this election season that it would be a fateful one for animals, and at both the state and federal levels the Humane Society Legislative Fund made significant commitments, including endorsements, independent expenditures, and direct candidate contributions. We are thrilled with the results of our efforts to elect animal welfare champions, send anti-animal legislators packing, and remind the nation of the value and importance of political advocacy for animals.
Given the animal protection records of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our endorsement of their candidacy was critically important. But we did more, including the creation of a national ad campaign featuring HSLF volunteers who made the case for the Biden-Harris ticket. We are optimistic about what the new administration will accomplish in the interests of animal welfare.
We also did our best to help candidates, especially incumbents, who had showed their support for our work. Not all of the races in which we engaged have been called, but we can speak to a few key outcomes.
First and foremost, we worked to ensure the re-election of a true animal defender, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.). HSLF sent mailers and produced digital ads to support his re-election.
Several of the most prominent pro-animal congressmen made it clear that ours is a winning issue by securing re-election in the U.S. House, and we did our best to help them. First and foremost, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who co-chair the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, quickly secured victory in their respective races. They and other members of the Caucus have reinforced our primacy as a nonpartisan force for good when it comes to the protection of animals. We are excited about their continuing leadership and support.
Another strong ally, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) also won his election. Rep. Fitzpatrick has led efforts in the 116th Congress to crack down on problematic breeding facilities known as puppy mills. He’s the lead sponsor of the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 2442) to update federal standards of care for dog breeders, the Welfare of our Friends Act (H.R. 1002) to prevent problem breeders from receiving new licenses from the USDA, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380) to reduce the number of tigers, lions, and other big cats living in substandard conditions and protect public safety by banning public contact activities with these animals and prohibit their procession by individuals and entities lacking a USDA license. We put our shoulders to the wheel behind his candidacy because we stick up for those who stick up for animals.
The HSLF did not shy away from the tough fights either, we stood by our friends. Perhaps the best example involved our support for Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) who faced a challenge from Karen Handel, a onetime spokesperson for the cruel fur industry who would have become an opponent of humane causes in the U.S. House. HSLF wasn’t going to let that happen. We produced digital ads, sent mailers, and communicated with our membership to put our preferred candidate over the top.
We were disappointed to see several incumbents we supported lose their bids to return to the Congress. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) are among those good partners and friends to the HSLF who were not re-elected. They understood our work, they came through for us, and we will miss them.
We know elected officials at every level play a critical role in advancing animal welfare. That is why we are rapidly expanding our reach and impact for animals. This year we made over 180 endorsements at the state and local level—the most in our history. This includes humane leaders like Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-N.Y.), the prime sponsor of legislation to prohibit the sale of new products containing fur from animals in New York, and State Representative Tommy Brann (R-Mich.), who sponsored legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty.
At the HSLF, we get political for animals. Our agenda is a pro-animal agenda, and we favor those who vote and work sincerely on their behalf, be they Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. This year, we endorsed a record number of candidates, and in crucial instances, we put our money and our energy to work for them. So many of you did, too. If you voted or volunteered for one of these candidates, thank you. If you sent funds in support of our work to elect animal-friendly candidates, or made direct contributions yourself, we appreciate it. We wanted to swing for the fences this time around, and because of you, we were able to do it. We’ve updated our elections site to identify the victories which have been called—with more to come as the outcomes are determined.
I want you to know that the HSLF team is hard at work in the election’s aftermath. We are preparing for runoff elections for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, doing our best to advocate for animal protection before a lame duck congress, and working diligently to ensure that the Biden-Harris administration emerges as the most pro-animal one yet.