People in Utah who care about animals should support Democrat Kathie Allen in the November 7 special election for the state’s third congressional seat. The seat is up for grabs following the unexpected resignation of Republican Jason Chaffetz, who received an atrocious 7-percent rating from Humane Society Legislative Fund last year. While many of her positions are unclear, Allen supports a federal prohibition on fur sales, which, if enacted, would be a major step forward for animal welfare in this country. Her conservative rivals, who likely hold views similar to those of Chaffetz, must be stopped.
In response to my questions, Allen was straightforward in her opposition to fur. “I would support a ban on fur sales,” she said in a message relayed by her campaign manager Emily Bingham. So far as I’m aware, only two US cities — Berkeley and West Hollywood — have the type of ban in place which Allen supports at a national level. It’s a boldly compassionate stance. She wouldn’t, however, commit to outlawing animal circuses across the country. “It would depend upon how much you demonstrated to me that animals are treated cruelly by most circuses,” Allen said. “I would need data.”
She was similarly circumspect when asked whether she would support federal funding for cultured-meat research, saying she needed to look up information on the topic. “I certainly would support it if it is economically and ecologically valid, and found to be safe for human consumption,” Allen said. “I had an animal platform on my initial Crowdpac page. I took it down because people criticized me for caring about animals more than people. I actually do not see it as an either/or choice. We should care about both. I love my pet cats and they are treated royally.”
While Allen has already been chosen as the Democrats’ standard bearer, Utah Republicans have yet to select their nominee for the state’s third congressional district. This will be achieved through an August 15 primary, featuring three candidates — Chris Herrod, John Curtis and Tanner Ainge. Herrod received the endorsement of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a bonafide animal hater, who received a 0-percent rating from HSLF last year. Curtis’ and Ainge’s campaign websites make no mention of animal welfare, and absent further information we must assume they share their party’s retrograde perspective.
For animal lovers, the choice is clear: Allen must be elected to Congress. Her candidacy is a long shot, as a Democrat hasn’t represented the district since 1997. But it’s definitely one worth taking. Whatever hedging she might do on other issues, Allen’s support for a national ban on fur sales would put her at the forefront of the legislative struggle for animal welfare. Activists who care about nonhumans should donate to and volunteer for her campaign, while making clear its her animal-friendly stance inspiring them to do so. In the event she’s elected and doesn’t live up to her commitment, those activists should recruit a more progressive challenger for 2018.