Politics & Media
May 31, 2017, 07:02AM

No Clear Choice for Animals in Virginia Governor Primary

The Sanders candidate, Tom Perriello, is no ally.

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Virginians who care about animals are faced with two bad choices for governor in the state's Democratic primary. Even by the standards of our speciesist society, the candidates—Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and former Representative Tom Perriello—have awful records on non-human issues. Which of the two men would be better for animals is simply unclear. Progressives shouldn’t feel guilty staying home during the June 13 primary, so long as they hold their nose and vote for the eventual Democratic nominee on November 7.

Northam is a proud, life-long hunter and fisherman. While in the state senate, he joined the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Alliance and sponsored a bill allowing hunting on Sundays. As lieutenant governor, Northam became the first person in the country holding such a position to join the Governors Sportsmen's Caucus. "I am eager to begin working with the other members of the GSC to advance our collective hunting and angling interests, as well promote effective fish and wildlife management practices," he said, according to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

On the other hand, Perriello—the so-called anti-establishment candidate in the race, backed by Bernie Sanders' group Our Revolution—was previously in the House of Representatives, where the Humane Society Legislative Fund rated him. Perriello got a 46-percent grade one year and a 47-percent grade the next. He repeatedly voted to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from collecting greenhouse gas emission data from factory farms, to allow loaded firearms in national parks, and to allow the slaughter of wild horses and burros, among a host of other anti-animal positions.

Though Northam and Perriello are awful, I encourage Virginians who care about animals to ultimately vote for whoever is the Democratic candidate for governor. So far as I can tell, there are no progressive third-party candidates in the race, let alone one who has a chance of winning. When it comes to animals, and just about everything else for that matter, the Republicans are abominable. Thankfully, both Northam and Perriello have significant leads over the presumed Republican nominee, Ed Gillespie, according to Washington Post-Schar School polling.

That said, if a Democrat secures the governorship, animal activists should aggressively begin recruiting pro-animal candidates to primary the state executive in 2021. 

  • You're actually hammering a pol for not coming out against hunting and fishing, two activities that provide sustenance? That must mean you want them to speak out against meat and fish being sold in grocery stores. Good luck in finding a candidate who meets your expectations, which will be never.

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  • While yes Jon Hochschartner is being idealistic, I do think there's room for animal-friendly rhetoric in politics, especially among the left. Speciesism—and our consumption habits that stem from it—is one of the few untouched, willfully unacknowledged horrors of humanity. In 2017, there is no reason for *most* Americans to be eating meat, at least on a regular basis.

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  • If you start talking about banning hunting or fishing as a politician, you lose automatically.The Democrats almost always lose these days, and this would be one way to guarantee this trend continues. To make this a political issue rather than a matter of personal choice is political suicide.

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  • "Speciesism", LOL. The word you're looking for is "anthropocentric."

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  • I'll eat whatever I want.

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