When the association representing the Maryland region due east of the nation’s Capital gets behind a County Council candidate, it doesn’t do so lightly. This spring, the Prince George’s County Association of REALTORS® (PGCAR) successfully backed three REALTOR® Champions: two REALTOR® members and one former REALTOR®, all three more than ready to tackle the private property issues facing the county in the upcoming 2019-2023 term.
“This was no small task, says PGCAR Executive Vice President Mike Graziano. “There were formidable opponents in each race, and we put plenty of thought in to our decision to back candidates. By the time we went to the REALTOR® Party for help, we were already heavily vested in these candidates.” PGCAR had conducted a Candidate Training Program late in 2017, in partnership with the Southern Maryland Association of REALTORS®; it was attended by one of the PGCAR members who won a seat in last month’s election. PGCAR also put together a REALTOR® ballot to guide and inform its 3,000 members, listing those it supported and endorsed in all of the county and state races. And then, with the support of the REALTOR® Party, it ran Independent Expenditure campaigns for the three REALTOR® Champion candidates running in open seats.
Dwayne Mingo, PGCAR’s Government Affairs Director, says “I’ve been involved in plenty of campaigns in my time, but this was my first rodeo with the REALTORS®. The Campaign Services team at NAR assisted me through the process the entire way. I made our pitch to the REALTOR® Party Trustees for Campaign Services Committee, and they turned it around quickly for us: we had our response the next day, complete with a suggested strategy and ideas about graphics.” A campaign was built to increase the branding and name recognition of each of the three candidates. Mingo worked closely with the team at NAR on language for the online advertising and the two carefully timed mailers promoting each one:
Jolene Ivey, a REALTOR® member who had represented Prince George’s County in the Maryland General Assembly, won her seat for District 5.
Monique Anderson-Walker, running against a current state delegate with significant name recognition, won the seat for District 8.
Sydney Harrison, a former REALTOR® who’d been supported by PGCAR in his successful 2014 bid to unseat the 18-year incumbent for the county Clerk of Court position, won the County Council seat for District 9.
Harrison’s election, in particular, was a very close shave: he won by a matter of just 55 votes. “There’s no doubt that the REALTOR® Party support helped to push Sydney over the top,” says Graziano. “We’d recognized during his first election, four years ago, that Sydney’s dedicated community spirit meant he was in this for the long haul. We know he’ll be a voice for REALTOR® interests for years to come, and we’re proud to have helped him to achieve his political aspirations this far.”
“Of course PGCAR was elated that our involvement assisted to elect three REALTORS® to our local County Council. This means that our voice will always be heard and relevant on property rights and land use issues. The process to make the IEs happen was simplistic but the results — social media posts and thousands of top quality mailers in three legislative districts — was huge and we believe made a big difference in putting these REALTOR® Champions over the top in tough races. Thank you to NAR’s Campaign Services Team,” said Cheryl Abrams Davis, 2018 PGCAR President.
PGCAR has a tried and tested process for vetting candidates for endorsement and support, including a comprehensive questionnaire on real estate issues. But, because of the strict rules prohibiting communication between candidates and independent expenditure campaigns, the support of the REALTOR® Party comes as a major surprise when it hits the mailboxes and screens of the chosen candidates, themselves. Says Mingo, “I saw Monique Anderson-Walker at a meeting not long after the election, and she gave me a big hug, telling me how shocked she’d been. Our vote of confidence and tangible support will clearly stay with her as she works for real estate issues in the coming four-year term.”
Those issues, says Mingo, will include such challenges as re-writing the county’s zoning regulations for the first time in 30 years; forming a comprehensive housing strategy; and keeping one of the highest transfer tax rates in the state of Maryland from getting any higher. While the REALTORS® did not conduct an independent campaign for the new County Executive, they did make a significant RPAC contribution to her campaign, notes Graziano. With three new champions on the Council, and a favorable relationship with the County Executive-elect, Prince George’s County REALTORS® can be assured that the issues that matter to them are in good hands.
To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Prince George’s County are using REALTOR® Party resources to support REALTOR® Champions, contact Government Affairs Director Dwayne Mingo at 301-306-7900.