By Peter Ricci
In an effort to better mobilize Realtors for the coming elections in November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has formed the Realtor Party, a group that aims to forgo party politics in the name of it’s own brand of leadership.
According to the Realtor Party website, joining the party carries with it several conditions:
- Members vote for Realtor Party candidates, meaning they vote for candidates at the local, state and national levels who support the same issues and causes as NAR, such as the mortgage interest tax deduction, the National Flood Insurance Program and net neutrality.
- They act on Realtor Party initiatives, meaning they act when called upon to support the Realtor Party at the local, state and national levels.
- And finally, they invest in RPAC, NAR’s political action committee.
Agents can join the Realtor Party through its website, and download a mobile app, which features Realtor news and “Call to Action” reports and alerts, among other features.
According to OpenSecrets.org, only three organizations have donated more to political campaigns than NAR in the last 23 years, so the fact that it would consolidate its political efforts with the Realtor Party is not exactly a surprising development; however, it has still proven controversial, with some arguing that with its Party, NAR is attempting to override its members’ personal political interests for the sake of its own.
Obviously, NAR disagrees with that characterization, as Tom Salomone, NAR’s 2012 director of Realtor party activities, explained in an Agent Genius article.
“The local Realtors decide what’s important in their communities,” Salomone said, clarifying where Realtors’ allegiances ultimately lie. “Realtors on the street decide which candidates are best for their communities after thorough research and vetting. The national association does not decide for them. You won’t see the national association dictating to the local members who they should vote for or which party to support.”
Local Realtors are also, Salomone continued, perfectly willing to not donate to RPAC; though often, upon learning of RPAC’s influence, Realtors are quite committed in their support.
“The initiatives and campaigns Realtors take on are partially funded by voluntary investments in the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). The key word here is ‘voluntary,’” he said. “The wonderful thing is that once Realtors hear about the amazing campaign and community outreach successes from fellow Realtors across the country, they invest in RPAC willingly.”
But what’s your take on it? Is this a savvy, new-age move by NAR to better galvanize its base and focus their efforts on the issues that count, or has the association gone too far in its emphasis on the political process? Let us know.