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Candidates Multiplying as Is the Rhetoric


Apartment Industry Colleagues,

And then there were…17? The GOP field for President of the United States continues to expand and thank goodness! I had been wondering why a one-term, purple-state governor who last served in public office a decade ago was not yet part of the field. Check that box. 

Meanwhile, the rhetoric from the candidates now resembles one of the more entertaining episodes of Morton Downey, Jr. Denigrating an entire race, dismissing the military service of prisoners of war and likening the Iran nuclear agreement to a replay of the holocaust are apparently the preferred tactics for making sure you poll in the top 10 of candidates and can participate in the GOP presidential primary debates. This event is shaping up to be a big win for the Fox television network that will air that first debate to a likely record audience. As far as the candidates themselves, I'm not sure who wins - the one who keeps it classy and stays above the incendiary commentary or the bomb-thrower who "tells it like it is."

Perhaps more interesting (aka has me completely flummoxed) is that a recent focus group of New Hampshire GOP primary voters revealed that the outrageous statements from the most boisterous of the GOP candidates (I think you know who I mean) actually resonated. They said he “speaks the truth,” is “Reaganesque,” is “one of us” and that his name means “success.” According to this group, he is not in the same box as other politicians and that his presidency would allow us to be proud as Americans again. I thought voters would not respond to the kind of buffoonery that dominates the conversation right now. While it’s still early and the only way to know for sure is to wait for the votes to be counted, I was clearly wrong about the psyche of the American voter.

While not as dramatic, the Democratic side of the equation is also expanding though so far the spotlight is really focused upon Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) versus former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The coronation that was anticipated for Secretary Clinton as the presumptive candidate is now in question as Senator Sanders speaks to one packed house of primary voters after another. Could the liberal left, like their cousins on the right, begin taking hold of the primary process? Secretary Clinton may need to tack left to keep up with Senator Sanders before ultimately coming back to the middle if she survives to the general election. Sound familiar? Oh, and this just in, Vice President Joe Biden is not necessarily out of the game. Reports are that he has not ruled out a run if the Clinton campaign implodes. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Washington, D.C., it’s that time of the election cycle where I usually say something about the clock running out on how much Congress will be able to accomplish because of the campaign. That is especially true this time for four reasons. First, there are so many sitting members of Congress running for their party’s presidential nomination that inevitably the rhetoric gets tainted. Second, this is the end of the Obama era so pols on both sides of the aisle are especially amped up about the presidential race. That impacts focus, rhetoric and available bandwidth. 

Third, there was already very little on which the President and the GOP Congress could agree which means those issues where there still may be a compromise to be made will take up most of the oxygen in the room. Finally, we are once again in a situation where control of the Senate is in play. A net loss of five seats will cost the GOP control and there are 22 Republicans running for re-election and two who have already bowed out. The candidates and the party need time to campaign at home and are incented to avoid any controversial votes that could undermine those campaigns.

The good news is that the Administration has generously provided us with lots of regulatory proposals to occupy our time and resources. The list includes: overtime pay, high-efficiency furnaces, affirmatively furthering fair housing, disparate impact, small area fair market rents, Waters of the United States and more! These more reactive efforts are coupled with our proactive work on emotional support animals, employee criminal background checks and music licensing. NAA members and staff are hard at work positioning the industry to secure some improvements in all of these areas.

Speaking of disparate impact, last month I talked about the Supreme Court’s Inclusive Communities decision. NAA recently cosponsored a webinar on the decision with the National Multifamily Housing Council where two leading fair housing attorneys reviewed the decision and its implications for operator policies, industry practices and the HUD rule. We had nearly 500 participants on the call. You can watch a replay of the webinar and download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation (member login required). 

As always, thanks for reading. Talk with you next month.