In the last issue of the C.A.S.H. Courier we talked
about setting up a voters’ database of people committed to voting
for candidates who will promote animal rights issues. This time,
we’ll focus on how to pick a contest and a candidate for optimum
In general, what we do is this:
We approach candidates involved in an upcoming election – either
a general election or a primary. We introduce ourselves as the League
of Humane Voters, and let them know how many voters we represent
in their district. We ask for a meeting with the candidates for the
purpose of evaluating whether we should endorse them. At the meeting,
we inform them that we would like a general commitment of support
for Animal Rights legislation regardless of their past voting record.
We also ask for their sponsorship or endorsement of a particular
bill that we would like to see introduced or that is pending from
a prior legislative session. If they agree and give us the impression
that they are in favor of our agenda, we then agree to endorse them
to our voters in their district. We then issue a press release in
which we endorse the candidates and quote them as gratefully accepting
our endorsement. They pledge to support a general Animal Rights agenda,
and to work for the passage of specific Bills. We then do a postcard
mailing to our voters in our database in their districts and ask
them to vote for the endorsed candidate.
Let’s start looking at some of the basics rules for
a picking a candidate to support:
Rule #1: Seek tight races.
The best race for our purposes is one that’s close – the
closer the better. We can only bargain effectively in a close race
since we can only swing about 3% to 5% of the voters in any given
election. Consider that if a candidate is expected to win with 60%
or more of the vote, there isn’t much we can do for him or her with
our 3% -- or even 5%. This candidate doesn’t need us. If we were
to endorse popular candidates, they would give us a handshake and
a “thank you,” but they would not be under any obligation to support
our issues as they come up. By the same token, we can’t anything
for the opponent. So there is very little point in actively getting
into that race. If, on the other hand, one of the candidates is projected
to win by 1% or 2%, or the race is “too close to call,” then we can
be effective power brokers for either side.
There are many benefits to having endorsed a winner
in a tight race. The local politicians will know that your AR-PAC
helped put a candidate over the top, so they may seek out and value
your endorsement in future elections. The candidate will be beholden
to you, since he knows he cannot afford to lose your support in future
elections. Paradoxically, a candidate who wins by a whisker has more
clout with his party leadership than a shoo-in candidate. If he needs
his party leaders’ support to pass a Bill, he can say something like: “Look
here guys, the opposition is going to run somebody with real deep
pockets against me next time – we may lose the district. I’ve got
to support my constituents. My constituents want to see the no-trapping
bill (or whatever bill) passed. If I can’t deliver we’re in real
trouble in the next election. Please help me out and get this bill
passed.” A candidate who wins year-in and year-out is taken for granted
by the party leadership. They expect him to be able to hold his seat
and, in their view, he doesn’t need any special favors or support.
There are other rules we will expand on in the next
installment of “Animal Rights and Effective Political Action”:
Rule #2: Go with the winner.
Rule #3: Get over party politics.
Rule #4: Forget past voting history
Rule #5: Ignore personal habits of the candidate.
Rule #6: Remember this is politics. You’re not here
to make friends, to reward good behavior, or to punish bad behavior.
Your sole purpose is get laws passed that promote Animal Rights.