As our wounded nation seeks to transcend the events of January 6, we’re turning our attention to the important work of helping animals, confident that the things we do, as engaged citizens and advocates for animals, are good for the democratic institutions of government. The actions we take in relation to public policy for animals contribute to the vitality and health of American politics, providing, among other things, an area of concern—animal welfare—that attracts people of all political persuasions.
You are doing your part at the federal, state and local levels, and we need your engagement more than ever. In the political arena, it amounts to this. Animals only win when humane candidates do. At the Humane Society Legislative Fund, we have been carrying the banner for animal welfare at the federal level since our formation in 2004. Thanks to the tremendous support of our members, we’re expanding our political footprint and influence to the state and local levels, too. We are thrilled to report that 2020 was another successful year for us, with a record number of endorsements at the state and local level. We issued over 180 endorsements for state legislatures and municipal offices and were the most active animal protection political entity in the nation.
Our endorsement does not come easy. The candidates who complete our questionnaires are asked to comment on a broad range of animal welfare issues. Often, our staff members meet with these candidates in one-on-one interviews to get acquainted and learn something about their interests and their understanding of our priorities. We review demographic data about their districts and past election results to evaluate their electability. Above all, for those who have previously held office, we carefully review their record on animal welfare.
When we’ve completed our analysis, we share our findings with our members, who look to us to provide guidance on political candidates in their communities. In recent years, we’ve received help from the candidates themselves as those who earn our endorsements actively share the news with their constituencies, adding the HSLF name to their list of endorsers.
Of the 180 endorsements HSLF made of candidates for state legislatures—an overwhelming 93% won their races. An impressive 100% of our endorsed candidates won in Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas. These include 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.
We made endorsements for local offices as well. For example, we endorsed Ross Licitra (R-N.J.) for the Board of Chosen Freeholders in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Licitra, the Executive Director and Chief Humane Officer of the Monmouth SPCA, worked with HSUS and others in the state to strengthen enforcement of humane laws. We can be sure of is that he will continue to be a champion for animals as an elected official.
Changing the composition of elected bodies that consider and pass pro-animal legislation is only possible because of your continued support for HSLF. Every time you write letters to elected officials, make phone calls to voters, or sign our petitions you are making a difference for millions of animals. Your donations and PAC contributions also strengthen our hand in securing the election of humane-minded candidates in every cycle. In short, you have made HSLF the most important voice in American politics for animals.
And here’s more good news. In 2021, together, we will get even stronger. We are preparing for gubernatorial and state legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia—and you can be sure that in those and other races, we will make certain that animals’ interests and the voices of engaged animal welfare advocates are a prominent part of the political conversation.