The National Association of Realtors backed the winning candidate in eight of 11 Congressional races where the group had directed its greatest resources.
NAR’s Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC) made more than $6 million in independent expenditures on behalf of incumbents in both parties who have supported the group’s causes in the past.
In the 11 races where RPAC’s independent expenditures exceeded $300,000, NAR threw its weight behind six Democrats and five Republicans.
On election night, with voter sentiment running against the party in power, half of the Democrats NAR pulled out the stops for lost their re-election bids, while all five Republicans the RPAC went to bat for will be returning to the House and Senate.
RPAC placed its biggest bet — $1.2 million — on U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat who is the second-most-senior Democrat serving on the House Financial Services Committee.
Kanjorski is also the chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, which has jurisdiction over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Obama administration is expected to roll out a proposal for restructuring Fannie and Freddie and the entire mortgage finance system next year, and Kanjorki’s defeat "means Democrats lose an expert in an area where Republicans are expected to play offense immediately," the Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta blogged on election night.
In general, Democrats support a continued role for government in the securitization and sale of mortgages to investors, while Republicans want Fannie and Freddie abolished and the government’s role in mortgage finance minimized.
Kanjorski was soundly defeated by Republican Lou Barletta, who nearly unseated him in 2008. With more than 99 percent of precincts reporting, Barletta captured 55 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District.
With 83,422 votes, Kanjorski trailed Barletta by nearly 17,000 votes. NAR’s independent expenditures in the race amounted to more than $14 for each vote cast for Kanjorski.
The next-biggest beneficiary of RPAC’s independent expenditures, Illinois Democrat Rep. Bill Foster, also went down to defeat on election day.
Foster was defeated by Republican state Sen. Randy Hultgren, who with Tea Party support bested former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s son, Ethan, in the primary election.
Hultgren cruised to victory with a 14,000-vote cushion, capturing 51 percent of ballots cast to Foster’s 45 percent. RPAC made $797,000 in independent expenditures on Foster’s behalf, and contributed $10,000 directly to his campaign.
Like Kanjorski and Foster, the other losing candidate backed by RPAC — New Jersey Democrat Rep. John Adler — serves on the House Financial Services committee.
Adler was defeated in a tight race by former National Football League lineman Jon Runyan, who was running for office for the first time. Runyan ended up with about 50 percent of ballots cast to Adler’s 47 percent. RPAC made $574,000 in independent expenditures on Adler’s behalf, and $10,000 in campaign contributions.
RPAC was on the winning side in eight other races, five of which were somewhat lopsided.
Georgia Republican and longtime NAR ally Sen. Johhny Isakson won 58 percent of the vote to Democrat Michael Thurmond’s 39 percent.
Although the race was never considered a close one, RPAC made $377,000 in independent expenditures on Isakson’s behalf and contributed $3,000 to his re-election campaign.
In California’s 44th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert cruised to victory with 56 percent of the vote, thanks in part to $606,236 in independent expenditures by NAR’s RPAC.
In Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, RPAC made $475,508 in expenditures on behalf of Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach, who captured 57 percent of the vote.
In Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, RPAC backed Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi to the tune of $323,756 in independent expenditures, helping him win by more than 40,000 votes.
In California’s heavily Democratic 18th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza captured nearly 58 percent of the vote, his re-election campaign benefiting from $320,658 in independent expenditures by RPAC.
In September, Cardoza introduced legislation that proposed using the federal government’s conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie to allow up to 30 million homeowners to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of current low rates.
Three races where RPAC’s role may have been more crucial included Washington’s 8th Congressional District, where polls showed former Microsoft corporate vice president Suzan DelBene had a shot at unseating Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.
Reichert ended up with more than 54 percent of the vote, thanks in part to $576,388 in RPAC independent expenditures on his behalf. Reichert serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over several issues important to Realtors such as tax policy, health care, and trade.
In Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter captured 53 percent of the vote, with RPAC making $429,908 in independent expenditures on his behalf.
In Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Joe Donnelly undoubtedly appreciated RPAC’s $331,658 in independent expenditures on his behalf, as he bested his Republican challenger, Jackie Walorski, by only 3,000 votes.
Independent Expenditures by RPAC in Federal Elections
|Kanjorski, Paul E.||House||Democrat||$1,202,164||Defeated|
|Adler, John H.||House||Democrat||$573,729||Defeated|
|Perlmutter, Edwin G.||House||Democrat||$429,908||Won|
|Tiberi, Patrick J.||House||Republican||$323,756||Won|
Source: Center for Responsive Politics.