Markets & Economy

NAR betting Mitch McConnell will become Senate majority leader

Realtors shower 'soft money' on Republicans

The National Association of Realtors is betting on Republicans to take control of the Senate in today’s election, spending nearly $2 million in soft money in the hopes of re-electing the man who is likely to lead it if they do.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is the top beneficiary of independent expenditures by NAR in the 2014 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

NAR — which likes to say it backs “Realtor party” candidates who support homeownership — is careful to divvy up its “hard” money campaign contributions evenly between the parties. Candidates’ campaign committees can spend hard money campaign contributions — limited to $5,000 each in the primary and general elections — as they see fit.

In the House, NAR’s Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) is doling out up to $10,000 each to the campaigns of dozens of incumbent Democrats and Republicans. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, RPAC’s contributions to House Democrats totaled $1.51 million through Oct. 15, and $1.59 million to House Republicans. In the Senate, RPAC was a little more inclined to help Democrats ($143,000) than GOP candidates ($114,000).

But since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the sky is the limit on independent expenditures in support of candidates — NAR raised its annual member dues by $40 starting in 2012 to keep pace with what it expected to be a soft money arms race.

6 ways empowered agents embrace disruption to drive success
Using technology to generate leads and win listings READ MORE

Another NAR PAC, the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund, has made $10.3 million in independent expenditures to date in the 2014 elections, with $6.53 million in spending in support of Republican candidates and $3.45 million in support of Democrats.

Top beneficiaries of NAR independent expenditures (Senate, 2014 election cycle)

Candidate Party, state Total
McConnell, Mitch R-Kentucky $1.89 million
Begich, Mark D-Alaska $1.39 million
Peters, Gary D-Michigan $886,282
Cochran, Thad R-Mississippi $781,144
Roberts, Pat R-Kansas $718,309

Source: Center for Responsive Politics

Polls show McConnell, the current Senate minority leader, ahead in a closely contested race.

NAR’s also put some big dollars behind Senate Democrats Mark Begich of Alaska and Gary Peters of Michigan.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

Begich, who serves on the Appropriations and Commerce committees, among others, won election to the Senate in 2008 by a margin of just 4,000 votes, and is in another tight race. Peters — the only Senate candidate to have President Obama appear at a campaign event — is expected to cruise to victory today.

In Mississippi, NAR is pulling for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran to hang on to his early lead in polling and win his seventh term.

In Kansas, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, 78, struggled to win the primary and is now in a dead heat with millionaire Greg Orman, an independent.

Top beneficiaries of NAR independent expenditures (House, 2014 election cycle)

Candidate Party, state Total
Murphy, Patrick D-Florida $809,606
Heck, Joe R-Nevada $795,285
Costello, Ryan R-Pennsylvania $778,734
Reed, Tom R-New York $621,349
Sinema, Kyrsten D-Arizona $358,200
Simpson, Mike R-Idaho $299,197
Tisei, Richard R-Massachusetts $256,237
Sessions, Pete R-Texas $211,514

Source: Center for Responsive Politics

NAR’s Congressional Fund has made six-digit soft money expenditures in eight House races, backing Republicans in six of those contests.

In the 2012 elections, NAR made $3.6 million in independent expenditures on behalf of eight House candidates — five Republicans and three Democrats — backing the winners in seven out of eight races.