WR's Legislative Endorsement Process
In June of every even-numbered year, we can count on two things…First, the warm days of summer will happen much later than most would prefer and second, Washington REALTORS® will hear the question, “Do we really need to endorse candidates for the State Legislature?” While there is not much that can be done on the first issue, the second is a valid question and deserves a response. The basis for this article will explain why and how we endorse candidates for the Legislature.
WHY does Washington REALTORS® endorse candidates for the State Legislature?
One of the bigger areas of focus of Washington REALTORS® is our advocacy work. We advocate for your profession, your brokerage and your clients. We think this is important…every year there are organizations and members of the Legislature that attempt to make your job harder. Usually, it’s because they don’t understand what you do nor the impact their actions have. Whether it’s like the recent attempt to completely eviscerate the Seller Disclosure Form, making your sellers liable for all unknown defects of a home, or working to remove the classification of real estate brokers as independent contractors…we face these and many other issues every year in the Legislature. When that happens, our Government Affairs team goes to work for you, stopping bad (and sometimes terrible) ideas from becoming law while simultaneously working on legislation that helps you and your clients. Sometimes the issues we work on are challenging…there are often individuals and groups on either side of an issue asking Legislators to vote “their” way. There are a number of Legislators, in both parties, that we work closely with to stop harmful bills or pass beneficial bills into law. There are also a few, in both parties, that we will disagree with for various reasons.
We strive to work with legislators who are not only receptive to our team, but also WANT to hear from REALTORS® as they pass legislation that regulates your industry. REALTORS® are experts with unique market knowledge that legislators appreciate when making decisions that can have large and lasting impacts on issues like taxes, availability of housing, housing affordability, brokerage practices, and more. Our entire industry is impacted by Legislators who are either willing to work with us or against us—we’d rather have the former.
How Does Washington REALTORS® endorse candidates for the State Legislature?
Every two years, our two Government Affairs Committees—Legislative Steering and the REALTOR® Political Action Committee—set the framework for these endorsements by analyzing voting records to determine who was in our corner when we asked them to be. Those incumbent Legislators who were with us on issues a large amount of time, or those who went out of their way to lead the way on a specific issue, are eligible for “early endorsement”. That means that it doesn’t really matter who might run against that person—their actions have shown us that they are a friend to the industry. Their opponent may have a great background and have great ideas on housing issues, but actions always speak louder than words. That is why many incumbents are early endorsed. For candidates who are not eligible for an early endorsement, or for open seats, we have an interview process where REALTORS® from the area the candidate comes from sits down and talks to the people running for office about housing issues—and only housing issues. Those REALTORS® determine, based on the candidates’ answers, who the best candidate for housing issues would be for each seat and that candidate gets our endorsement. It’s not always easy to make that decision…and yes, sometimes we might endorse someone that some of our members think is the second-best candidate in the race. People vote for and support candidates for all types of reasons and various issues. Washington REALTORS® (the most bipartisan large PAC in the state, by the way) only considers issues directly around housing and commercial real estate.
Politics has always been an issue that is difficult to talk about—even more so in recent times. Washington REALTORS® believes it is important to have contacts on both sides of the aisle in the State House that are eager to work with us. That is why we endorse and support candidates for the State Legislature. An adage of American Politics says it best, “If you aren’t at the table, it’s probably because you are on the menu.”