Robert Freedman is the former director of multimedia communications at NAR.
RPAC Gets out the Vote
September 1, 2004
When Johnny Isakson took to the podiumafter winning his hotly contested Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat from Georgia in July, he thanked his family and his staff—and the hundreds of REALTORS® gathered in the room.
“REALTORS® were the one group whose work he acknowledged because he really did see the importance of what we did for him,” says Shea Zimmerman, CRS®, GRI, chair of the REALTORS® for Isakson steering committee and managing broker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta.
The role REALTORS® played for Isakson—a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry and a past NAR director—spanned the primary campaign of the three-term congressman: hosting candidate meet-and-greets, registering voters, attending rallies, and launching a TV, radio, and mail campaign to educate voters on the election’s stake for real estate.
The effort was a key test for NAR’s Opportunity Race Program. It’s through this program that the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) channels contributions from real estate brokerages and industry organizations—soft dollars—into mobilizing REALTORS® on behalf of a campaign.
Under the program, NAR provides issue advocacy ads and technical assistance, including on-the-ground field workers, to help local practitioners marshal support for a candidate.
NAR chalked up a host of key opportunity race victories this year. It helped Jim Costa, a California Democrat running for the U.S. House, win a tough primary fight. Costa, a 24-year veteran California legislator, has been a staunch supporter of REALTOR® issues in the state. And it helped Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., win his primary battle and prepare to hold his seat in November.
By the time the general elections arrive in November, NAR will have helped in more than two dozen races.
“As these victories show, we’re using the Opportunity Race Program to go the extra mile for candidates who go the extra mile for REALTOR®,” says 2004 RPAC chair Bill Brown of Oakland, Calif.
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Updated: September 24, 2021