If you care about animals, Jimmy Gomez is the best bet in the June 6 general election — which pits two Democrats against each other — for California’s 34th congressional seat. Gomez, who currently serves in the state assembly, doesn’t appear to have been a leader on animal-welfare issues, in that he wasn’t credited as authoring any legislation. But he appears to have been a reliable vote in favor of animal protection.
On the other hand, his opponent, Robert Lee Ahn, is a completely unknown quantity. Ahn’s campaign website doesn’t mention animal welfare as an important piece of his platform. He has no history in elected office which can be examined to better understand his views. And perhaps most tellingly, until 2012, Ahn was a registered member of the Republican Party, a political force which is objectively awful for animals. (For instance, in 2015, of the 71 senators and representatives who achieved a 0-percent rating from the Humane Society Legislative Fund, 70 were Republicans.)
Over the course of his political career, Gomez seems to have consistently supported pro-animal legislation. I say ‘seems’ only because a 2014 scorecard for California isn’t available on the HSLF website. In 2013, Gomez voted in favor of bills promoting the development of dog parks, restricting the sale of animals at swap meets, protecting wildlife from lead poisoning, banning certain trapping methods, restricting bobcat trapping, and requiring non-lethal options for the removal of mountain lions deemed a safety hazard.
In 2015, according to HSLF, he supported legislation protecting elephants and rhinos from poaching, promoting the adoption of research animals, permitting out-of-state veterinarians to help in cruelty cases, allowing temporary animal shelters in disaster situations, raising funds for spay/neuter services and cruelty prevention, protecting pets from domestic violence, protecting sea otters, prohibiting the use of antibiotics on farm animals for weight-gain purposes, and banning the use of elephant bullhooks.
The following year, Gomez voted in favor of improving animal-cruelty reporting, removing a provision deeming former fighting dogs to be vicious, establishing a right to rescue animals from cars, ending the release of shelter animals to laboratories, and closing the loophole on the gas-chamber ban, according to HSLF. He also supported banning elephant bullhooks again, as the previous legislation was vetoed.
“As the owner of a shelter dog, Austin, Jimmy Gomez is a huge proponent of animal adoption from shelters and rescues,” the state assemblyman’s website states, before noting he’s hosted a number of pet adoption and care events in his district. “In Congress, Jimmy will push to increase enforcement funding to protect endangered species from poaching, [and] add penalties for animal cruelty.”
It should be mentioned that while Gomez’s campaign says it’s been endorsed by the HSLF, I’ve found no evidence of this on the latter organization’s website. HSLF endorsed Gomez in 2014 for the state assembly, but I see no sign of the group’s preference in this 2017 special election. Perhaps HSLF made an endorsement but forgot to upload it to their website. Regardless, one hopes that if he’s voted into the House of Representatives, Gomez joins the Animal Protection Caucus, something he didn’t seem to do while in the state assembly.