Election Season is Upon Us!

Posted By: Dustin Engelken Government Affairs,

It’s late August and as we begin to turn the page on beach season, we are quickly moving into…election season? Yes, I’m afraid you read that right.

Now that primaries are completed, and head-to-head matchups are set, we have officially moved into election season with less than eighty days between now and November 6. Before your eyes glaze over and you quickly close this email, don’t worry, this post will not touch upon the most recent presidential tweet or the most recent lawsuit in Raleigh. Instead, we wanted to take this opportunity to inform you all about the election-related work that your Government Affairs Committee is taking on in the coming weeks on your behalf.

By now, I am sure you have all seen or heard the pitches from your friends and colleagues to give money to TAA-PAC and many of you have given generously (it’s never too late to click and donate here!). Last month, we talked a little about how PAC money is used and why it’s important for the industry to donate to like-minded candidates. However, we didn’t give much insight into how the decisions are made on not only which candidates to support, but how much support should be provided. Today, as we prepare for candidate interviews, we want to pull back the curtain on this process, but first, we need to start with a little background on these elections.

The 2018 election in North Carolina is what is called a “blue moon” election, meaning there are no statewide races for offices like Governor or the US Senate. Instead, the races on the ballot in November are for legislative offices in the US House of Representatives and the North Carolina General Assembly. Many county-level offices are also up for election across the state, including county commission, school board, sheriff, and more. To see what offices will be on your ballot this fall, check your sample ballot here.

Traditionally, the TAA-PAC has been utilized for contributions to local candidates, while our friends at NAA and AANC maintain their own PACs and provide contributions to candidates for Congress and state offices. Our PAC focuses primarily on state and local races, and to that end, TAA has invited candidates for both the General Assembly and the Wake County Board of Commissioners to interview with us.

As many of you know, TAA has a footprint that is far larger than most people would associate with "the Triangle", and as a result, we have many legislators in our area. In fact, in the General Assembly, our Association touches thirteen state senate seats and twenty-seven seats state house seats.

Given our limited resources, we decided early on that it wouldn’t make sense to try and interview the one hundred candidates running for these seats or to make contributions in fifty races. Instead, we have decided to focus on “open” seats in which there is no incumbent legislator running for re-election. As a result, we have invited the candidates for two local Senate seats (Johnston and Wake counties) and three local House seats (Durham and Wake counties) to interview with us.

In addition to the five state races, we have also invited all the candidates for contested races on the Wake County Commission to interview with us. These races include two “open” seats where the incumbents lost in the primaries and three other contested seats where the incumbents are running for re-election. Durham’s County Commissioners are not up for re-election this year and there were few contested races in our other core area of Orange and Johnston Counties, which is why the only county-level candidates are from Wake County this year.

The ten candidates who win these races will make critical decisions on state legislation and county policy that could have a large impact on your business. It’s important that we make good decisions in the interview process and that we have a strong showing of members participating. Our candidate interviews will be held on Thursday, August 23 in the TAA office and will be conducted by members of the Government Affairs Committee. However, any TAA member is welcome to sit in on the interviews and to engage with candidates. If you would like more information on the interview process, or if you would like to volunteer to participate, please contact me at dengelken@triangleaptassn.org.

After our interviews are complete, we will be making recommendations for support to the TAA Board of Directors. Once the Board has signed off on recommendations, the PAC will start cutting checks and setting up events with the candidates whom we are supporting. Even if you aren’t able to join us on Thursday, there will be plenty of opportunities to participate in the process so stay tuned for more information on our endorsements and future candidate events!

For more information or questions, contact Dustin Engelken at dengelken@triangleaptassn.org.