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How did NAR impact political campaigns this year?

As part of its mission, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) lobbies on behalf of Realtors regarding bills and campaigns through the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). There are a variety of reasons RPAC contributes to financial campaigns ranging from specific issues candidates support that would advance the NAR goals to contributions to seats (despite who is in the seat).

This year was a rocky road for anyone in the political arena and many targets lost as the tides changed on the Hill.

NAR/RPAC targets that lost

Three candidates that RPAC targeted this year that lost were Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Representative John Adler (D-NJ) and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL). NAR contributed $10,000 to Kanjorski and Adler and $10,250 to Foster while NAR employees contributed an additional $1,000 to Kanjorski.

Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta (Republican) won control of the 11th Congressional District after two previous unsuccessful attempts at the seat, beating one of the most-senior Congressmen, incumbent Kanjorski.

Republican Jon Runyan unseat incumbent John Adler in what some are calling New Jersey’s most expensive and most bitter House race.

Career politician, Randy Hultgren defeated incumbent Bill Foster with a campaign centered around “wasteful” government spending.

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These three targets that lost show a party swing toward a more conservative group of Representatives.

NAR/RPAC targets that won

Sidenote: we did not mix up pictures, apparently, Donnelly and Gerlach are twins.

All eight of RPAC’s winning targets were incumbent races, some of which were close, others of which were won with ease. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) was reelected and it is interesting to note that his top campaign contributor was not NAR/RPAC, rather Realogy whose total contribution in this election cycle was $40,800.

Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) was well supported by the real estate sector with the top two contributors being construction related and the third highest contributor being NAR at $10,000 with an additional $1,000 chipped in by individual employees.

Representative Dennis Cardoza’s (D-CA) top campaign contributor this election was NAR at $9,000 with an additional $6,000 contributed by employees. He is also supported well by the American Bankers Association and his fifth largest campaign contributor is the Blue Dog PAC.

Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) was reelected with NAR support as well as a great deal of support from retailers and the medical industry. Representative Joe Donnelly (D-IN) won his seat, but mostly in part to heavy contributions from unions.

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Representative Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) saw a $10,000 contribution from NAR. Tiberi is on the Ways and Means Committee which is important to the real estate sector. Also important is the Financial Services Committee which Representative Jim Gerlach (R-PA) sits on who was supported by NAR this election cycle.

With campaign contributions from NAR but even bigger contributions from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) also won reelection.

Why REALTORS should care

Not only is it important for dues paying members to understand where those dues are going, especially politically, it is important to know how NAR as well as members involved in committees are influencing public policy. NAR is one of the biggest lobbies in the nation and many people in the industry do nothing more than go pull a lever to vote party lines.

Whether you like the outcomes of this election cycle, where RPAC dollars went (or didn’t go) or not, the question is what will you do about it? The first step is to be educated about the issues, the races, and ultimately how your PAC is contributing. Get angry, get giddy, just get some education so you can opine! That critical step is as far as some people will go and it is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with that because an educated membership is better than a blind/ignorant membership.

The second step is getting involved in committee life if you’re called to do so or even contributing on your own to political campaigns, acting as your own PAC. Write your local Representative about issues that have an impact on your business and make your opinion known.

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The third and final step is to always be vigilant. There are countless issues on the table right now that directly impact your bottom line and RPAC’s 11 targets should be closely followed over this next political cycle for how they respond to the real estate community. Visit the Realtor Action Center website and absorb as much as you can, volunteer where you can, or do whatever you’re called to do, but at a minimum, know what is going on in the world around you because these politicians hold your money in their hands.

AG is not affiliated with any individuals, companies or associations mentioned above.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Jane Page Thompson

    November 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Congratulations to Realtor Duncan on his election to Congress!
    South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District will have a REALTOR in the seat for the 112th – Jeff Duncan. So, NAR and RPAC not only supported a candidate with a strong platform, but a Realtor, to boot! South Carolina Association of Realtors does a great job encouraging agents to run for office and this year it paid-off nationally and statewide we sent Realtors to Columbia to fight for property issues. Keep-up the good work NAR, RPAC & SCR!

  2. Matt Carter

    November 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    If you want to gauge NAR’s impact on the election, you should also look at RPAC’s independent expenditures, which according to, totaled $6 million in the 2010 election cycle — $3.66 million to Democrats, and $2.37 million to Republicans.

    RPAC’s independent expenditures in each of the 11 races that you have highlighted here exceeded $300,000. In each case, NAR supported incumbents it’s been able to rely upon in the past. Among the six Democrats and five Republicans that RPAC went to bat for in a big way, all of the Republicans were reelected, but only half the Democrats.

    NAR made more than $2.5 million in independent expenditures on behalf of three Democrats who went down to defeat on election day: Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Penn. ($1.2 million); Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill. ($796,891); and Rep. John Adler, D-N.J. ($573,729).

    All three serve on the House Financial Services Committee, where many bills affecting housing are referred — often to be amended or killed.

    RPAC helped three other members of the Financial Services Committee win their reelection bids: Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo. ($429,908).; Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. ($331,658), and Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa. ($475,508).

    At NAR’s annual meeting, Jerry Giovaniello, NAR’s chief lobbyist, said, “Frankly, those three owe us, because I’m not sure they would have won” without RPAC’s support.

    Donnelly beat Republican state Sen. Jackie Walorksi — who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and supported by local Tea Party groups — by less than 3,000 votes.

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