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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tuesday's Primary Results Fare Well for Animals

A number of states held primary elections yesterday, including competitive open seats and incumbent-versus-incumbent races, and there were several important outcomes for animal protection advocates. Here is a wrap-up of some of the noteworthy election results:

Gary Peters
Gary Peters won the Democratic primary
for Michigan's 14th Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters was the victor over U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 14th Congressional District, by a vote of 47 to 35 percent. Peters has been a leading champion for animal protection in Congress since he was elected in 2008, after defeating eight-term Rep. Joe Knollenberg in part due to HSLF’s campaign exposing Knollenberg’s extreme record on animal cruelty. Peters has sponsored legislation to ban the trafficking in obscene animal “crush” videos, to stop wealthy trophy hunters from shooting threatened polar bears in the Arctic and importing their heads or hides, and to save millions of tax dollars by ending subsidies for lethal predator control for ranchers, and worked to end the U.S. Army poisoning of monkeys for chemical warfare training. HSLF mailed to primary voters in support of Peters, and a dedicated group of volunteers canvassed the district for months letting thousands of households know about Peters’ leadership on animal protection.

Also in Michigan, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton won the Republican primary in the 6th Congressional District, and U.S. Rep. John Conyers won the Democratic primary in the 13th Congressional District, both by wide margins. HSLF endorsed both Upton and Conyers, who were facing competitive primary contests, and communicated with voters in the Kalamazoo and Detroit districts. Upton is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over many animal protection policies, and he has co-sponsored bills on crush videos, animal fighting, puppy mills, fur labeling, and others. As the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Conyers has helped to pass legislation on crush videos and animal fighting, and has sponsored legislation to ban horse slaughter for human consumption.

In state legislative races, HSLF supported a campaign to defeat puppy mill industry lobbyist Barbara York, who ran in a competitive Republican primary for an open seat in the Missouri House of Representatives. It would have been a setback for animal protection advocates in Missouri to have a leading opponent of animal welfare elected to serve in the state legislature. York lost her bid to move from lobbyist to lawmaker, and former Bates County Commissioner Randy Pike won the Republican race in the rural 126th District with 61.5 percent of the vote. On the other side of the state in St. Louis County, State Rep. Scott Sifton, backed by HSLF, won his Democratic primary for State Senate in the 1st District by a vote of 55 to 45 percent.

Joe Seng
In June, HSLF helped to defeat
Iowa “ag gag” sponsor Joe Seng.

Tuesday’s election results continued a largely successful primary season for animal advocates. In June, HSLF helped to defeat Iowa State Sen. Joe Seng, who had led the effort to pass the state’s notorious “ag gag” law to punish whistleblowers at factory farms, and he lost in the Democratic primary to U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. HSLF also ran independent expenditure campaigns to help leading supporters of animal protection with their primaries, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District; former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, who had a strong record on animal welfare when she previously served, in Nevada’s new 1st Congressional District; and New York State Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who sponsored the state bill to ban the trade in shark fins, in the open seat for the Queens-based 6th Congressional District.

In other election-related news from yesterday, North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty, a coalition working to strengthen the penalties for extreme cruelty to dogs, cats, and horses, submitted 25,318 signatures to the North Dakota Secretary of State—88 percent more than the number needed to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot. North Dakota is one of only two states (South Dakota is the other) that does not have felony-level penalties for even the worst acts of cruelty—such as maliciously or intentionally burning, crushing, suffocating, impaling and dismembering companion animals. The North Dakota ballot initiative will be a top priority for animal protection advocates, to bring us one step closer to having strong penalties against animal abuse nationwide.

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