What should hunters look for in a politician at election time?

It’s election time again.  And all over America various interest groups are discovering that our local politicians do in fact still know we exist.  And more important, that they think just like us.  Now is the time of year when the congressman who normally wears the $1,000 Brooks Brothers suits gets the Starter jacket featuring the logo from the area’s prominent NFL team out of moth balls, and shows up at the local sports bar to make sure we all know that he is just like us.

As hunters we ought to be familiar with this song and dance.  Over the next six months we will see plenty of freshly creased flannel shirts and shotguns, that have not been used enough to open easily,  broken awkwardly over shoulders.  And while all of this conversation takes place with us “regular folk,” young Washington DC staffers who look 15, but are actually probably 25, will be snapping photos to be used in campaign brochures, emails and websites.

John Kerry, 2004

The problem with all of this is that it really doesn’t matter whether they hunt, or claim to be a hunter.  Of course it is good that your elected officials would take the time to give a speech at your rod and gun club.  These kinds of visits should be taken with a grain of salt though; especially if they take place within 180 days prior to Election Day.

Of course it would be nice to know that all of my elected officials actually know the business end of a firearm.  It would be even better to know that they have actually hunted and killed anything.  But those things are not really what matters on Election Day.

On November 6, 2012, the folks on the ballot are not auditioning to be our hunting buddies.  They are trying to convince us that we should trust them in the halls of Congress or the state legislature.

Rick Santorum, 2011

How they vote is what really matters.

The above photo features former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum hunting pheasant in Iowa where he just happened to be campaigning for president of the United States coincidentally around the time of the Iowa Caucuses.  Notice that he is also wearing an orange cap emblazoned with the logo of the National Rifle Association.  Now as it turns out, Senator Santorum has been a strong supporter of the second amendment, which is terribly important to hunters and all of America for that matter.

But it is also true that he works with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s most powerful anti-hunting organization.  In fact, of all of Republican candidates for president, HSUS rated Santorum the highest, noting that he voted their way 80% of the time.

Many sporting dog kennel owners have long been aware of his collaboration with HSUS after the Senator authored the S 1139, the PAWS act which treated law-abiding sporting dog kennel operators the same as large-scale commercial dogs breeders that HSUS labels “puppy mills.”  During our interview, on March 5, 2012, Santorum spoke proudly of his work on the PAWS act, and confessed that he had worked with HSUS during the process.  Sporting dog owners who attended the hearing he chaired on November 8, 2005, were tarred with the same brush as animal abusers, and were not allowed to testify.  HSUS and the Doris Day Animal League both offered testimony in support of the bill.

To sporting dog owners it doesn’t matter that there are pictures of Rick Santorum hunting pheasants in Iowa while running for president.  It matters that he was working with anti-hunting groups to shut their kennels down.

In California, sportsmen will have a chance to see whether their state senators stand with them. On Tuesday, April 23, 2012, the Senate Natural Resources Committee will hear Senate bill 1221, which would ban hunting bears and bobcats with hounds.  The bill is sponsored by HSUS, and may come to a vote.  On that day it won’t matter how many plaid shirt/shotgun pictures are in the mail to sportsmen households.  It will only matter who stood with sportsmen and protected their hunting rights.

We deserve to have pro-gun AND pro-hunting elected officials. 

Of course we’d love it if there were more legislators who hunt or shoot.  But what we are really looking for are legislators who vote right when we are under attack.  Those are the guys who deserve our support on November 6th.

11 comments on “What should hunters look for in a politician at election time?

  1. Sue Tabor says:

    Amen. “Looks can be deceiving” when it comes to those who are really our friends.

  2. JS says:

    Rick Santorum is practicing gun safety in the photo shown, finger beside and not on trigger and gun pointed up away from any dangerous situation and appears to be wearing safety glasses. John Kerry is breaking every gun safety rule imaginable: he is not looking at his target, has his finger on the trigger and gun pointed out where it may discharge at something at which he is not even looking and is not wearing eye protection!

  3. Rob Sexton says:

    You’re right JS. I think Rick Santorum has probably done some hunting in his life.

  4. allen says:

    Santorun may have hunted once,but he’s not a friend of sportsmen,for sure.

  5. Tom says:

    I think a good question to a politician is, “how long have you been an NRA member?”.

  6. Rob Sexton says:

    Thanks for the comment, Tom. Belonging to the NRA could be a good indicator, but it’s how they vote that is the true measure. We’ve seen legislators who claim to be NRA members vote against hunting.

    • Tom says:

      Yes that would be the ultimate test, check their voting record. Here in AZ. we have a lot of newbies running that have no “voting record”, that makes it harder.

      • Rob Sexton says:

        It sure does make it harder. And if there is no candidate survey or interview that can get a newbie on the record, then at least knowing they belong to a pro-gun / pro-hunting organization would definitely help, you’re right.

  7. Dr. David A. Sartwell says:

    Your commentary is right on target! Do not be fooled by those that wear labels. You can be a fiscal conservative, believe in the basic rights of the Second Amendment and still be a social liberal when it comes to protecting the rights of the young, old, and disenfranchised. Keeping land open, working to educate on the difference between a weapon and a tool, and being part of a movement to help young people understand the wonderful opportunities recreation in the outdoors can bring us is not a “right-wing” or left-wing” cause. It is something all different folks can support. Be careful in your study of each candidate and vote according to your beliefs. As an outdoor columnist for years, I have heard them all.
    Dr. Dave

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  9. [...] On the floor, Wolk voted no, but her flip-flop earns her no points by sportsmen whom she deserted when she could have made a difference. [...]

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