In the 2016 congressional elections, the Society of American Florists achieved a nearly perfect score in supporting candidates for federal elective office, with 10 out of the 11 candidates SAF backed winning their races by an average of 62 percent of the vote.
“SAF supported a total of 14 candidates in this election year, two whom were not up for reelection and one who subsequently announced his retirement from the House,” said SAF’s Senior Director of Government Relations Shawn McBurney. “The 91 percent success rate was better than in either 2012 (87 percent) or 2008 (81 percent).”
SAF promotes and protects the floral industry by supporting congressional candidates who support the industry and small business. SAF’s support is bipartisan and bicameral and is based on where candidates stand on issues important to our industry.
“This year many of the candidates SAF supported have backgrounds in agriculture,” McBurney added. “This was important because of SAF’s work on the STARS Act, immigration reform and research funding. In addition, the number of candidates SAF supported this year dropped from previous years due primarily to the gridlock on Capitol Hill and the uncertainties of the presidential campaign.”
Candidates supported by SAF who won:
Rep. Jim Costa (D-California) – Rep. Jim Costa represents California’s 16th District which is largely agricultural. He was raised on a dairy farm and understands agriculture and the issues involved. Mr. Costa serves on the House Committee on Agriculture. He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally-conservative Democrats. Importantly, Mr. Costa has been a steadfast supporter and original cosponsor of the STARS Act during the last and current Congresses and has resisted efforts to stop his support as demanded by organized labor. He is also supports immigration reform and understands the need for agricultural labor. Mr. Costa won reelection with 57.7 percent of the vote.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) – A native of Bakersfield, California, and grandson of a cattle rancher, Rep. McCarthy is the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. As a representative of an agricultural district, McCarthy understand issues affecting farmers and is also working on legislation to address California’s drought. Rep. McCarthy won reelection with 70.4 percent of the vote.
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) – Rep. Dan Newhouse is a hops-growing farmer who owns 600 acres in his home state and previously directed Washington state’s Agriculture Department. He has said the federal government’s environmental and land-use policies should be made less burdensome for agriculture, businesses and landowners. He serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. Rep. Newhouse won reelection with 57.4 percent of the vote.
Jimmy Panetta (D-California) – After Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) announced he would retire from Congress, Mr. Panetta decided to run for that seat. The son of former White House Chief of Staff, CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta who held the seat prior to Mr. Farr, Jimmy Panetta currently serves as a Deputy District Attorney in Monterey County, California. He is an associate member of the Monterey and Santa Cruz County Farm Bureaus and is committed to protecting California’s coastal environment. He has expressed an interest in serving on the House Committee on Agriculture and House Committee on Appropriations, and he has ties to local flower growers. Mr. Panetta won his election with 70 percent of the vote.
Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Pennsylvania) – Before being elected to Congress, Mr. Renacci was a certified public accountant with diverse business interests including owning all or part of about 60 businesses employing more than 3,000 people. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over tax legislation. He is also the sponsor of the STARS Act. Rep. Renacci won reelection with 65.4 percent of the vote.
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) – Mr. Schrader works hard at bipartisan solutions to problems and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. Schrader says Environmental Protection Agency rule-making proceedings should accord more weight to the economic impact of regulations. A veterinarian by trade, Mr. Schrader is very responsive to small business concerns and is the primary Democratic cosponsor of the STARS Act. Rep. Schrader won reelection with 53.6 percent of the vote.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Georgia) – Rep. Austin Scott sits on the House Committee on Agriculture. He has gained a reputation as steadfastly protective of his rural district’s farmers. He has been highly critical of the Environmental Protection Agency which he says is stifling farmers’ ability to produce crops. Rep. Scott won reelection with 67.7 percent of the vote.
Rep. David Valadao (R-California) – Mr. Valadao is a dairy farmer. The family business now consists of two dairies, as well as over 1,000 acres of farmland, on which Valadao and his family grow alfalfa, corn, and wheat as dairy feed stock. Valadao sits on the House Appropriations Committee and is Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture. He’s spent much of his short congressional career on efforts to address extreme drought in California. He backs investments in California’s water infrastructure, and in July 2015, the House passed Valadao’s legislation to accelerate reviews of permit applications and environmental studies for new water projects. Mr. Valadao supports SAF’s position on immigration. Rep. Valadao won relection with 57.8 percent of the vote.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) – Senator Moran is the junior senator from Kansas, a major agricultural state. Sen. Moran serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, which determines federal agricultural spending priorities. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served on the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the Senate Water Caucus and has opposed the highly controversial “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” rule that would greatly expand government control over private land. Sen. Moran won reelection with 62.4 percent of the vote.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) – Sen. Scott emphasizes restraint in federal spending, taxation and regulation. He serves on the tax-writing Finance Committee and supports reducing the corporate tax rate to 23 percent from 35 percent. He also would cut individual tax rates as a way of boosting the economy and increasing revenues. The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the STARS Act and is critical to that legislation’s fate. Sen. Scott won reelection with 60.5 percent of the vote.
Candidate supported by SAF who lost:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) – Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate, Ms. Ayotte served as Attorney General of New Hampshire. She helped her husband create a small landscaping and snow removal business and has been an advocate for lowering taxes and removing obstacles to creating small businesses. She had visited with SAF member Doug Cole, D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., on several occasions. She was the sponsor of the STARS Act in the Senate. Sen. Ayotte lost her bid for reelection by 47.9 to 48 percent, a razor-thin margin of 743 votes out of 738,483 cast.
Other candidates supported by SAF:
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) – Mr. Gardner served in the U.S. House of Representatives where he sat on the House Committee on Agriculture prior to being elected to the Senate. He hails from a family that has owned a farm implement dealership for over a century. After the election to the Senate, he secured the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and, as such, is a senior member of the Republican leadership team. Sen. Gardner was not up for reelection in 2016.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) – The senior senator from Michigan, Sen. Stabenow serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. She also sits on the Senate Committee on Finance which has jurisdiction over tax legislation. As the highest-ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, Sen. Stabenow has a strong voice in the upcoming debate on the Farm Bill. She was not up for reelection this year.
Rep. Sam Farr (D-California) – Rep. Farr has been one of the strongest supporters and closest friends of the floral industry since his assuming office in 1993. Representing a central California coastal district, he has long appreciated the benefits and challenges of floriculture. Rep. Farr serves on the House Appropriations Committee is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. Rep. Sam Farr announced that he would retire from Congress and not run for reelection. SAF will miss his presence on Capitol Hill very much.