SBAM is Your Trusted Source for Pro-Small Business Political Endorsements
April 13, 2022
Originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS Magazine
It’s no secret that 2022 brings with it a politically charged, contentious election season. This fact, coupled with newly redistricted maps for the State House, State Senate and Congress will make for an expensive election cycle. Getting involved in the endorsement process isn’t for the faint of heart but is critical to the success of the Small Business Association of Michigan’s (SBAM) relationships and influence in Lansing.
Many of you may be familiar with SBAM’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Our work through the PAC has been a pillar of the SBAM government operations agenda and has been a large and growing success. In the 2020 election cycle, 73 of the 77 candidates we endorsed won their election. This 95 percent win rate, and over $100,000 invested through our PAC process in 2020, has contributed to SBAM’s influence in Lansing.
Our PAC is governed by a separate board of small business owners appointed by the SBAM Board of Directors. In the PAC bylaws, it specifically states that we must ensure to the best of our ability that the PAC board is bi-partisan. SBAM has multiple staff members that work in some capacity to ensure a successful PAC process—from fundraising to endorsement roll out.
Each election cycle, SBAM sends out a candidate survey to statewide seats, State House and State Senate candidates. We’ve recently expanded to include judicial elections into our PAC process. Our candidate surveys include questions to gauge opinions on several small business issues, like taxes, regulations and workforce and health care policy. These surveys, along with voting records (if applicable) and additional research, all funnel into the decision-making process. Once a candidate submits their survey, that’s a signal they’re seeking SBAM’s endorsement.
From the candidate questionnaire, we pull together teams made up of our PAC Board to interview candidates seeking endorsement. This is an opportunity to dive deeper into specific policy areas and ask campaign-based questions. PAC Board members are encouraged to ask questions to help paint a clear picture of how a candidate would support small businesses if elected into office.
These questions are shaped by our legislative priorities and the candidate’s response to the questionnaire. Interviews are a great way to gauge not only the candidate’s understanding of the issues that small businesses face, but it’s also a great opportunity to educate them on what those issues are and how SBAM advocates on behalf of its membership.
With the information presented to our PAC Board, the Board then votes on which candidates to endorse. The PAC Board can also vote not to endorse in a particular race. Decisions are made by a simple majority. From endorsement to the actual election, we work with endorsed candidates to promote them as small business allies and ensure they are elected.
We are proud that a SBAM PAC endorsement holds merit in Lansing, and we hold those that receive the endorsement accountable to our legislative priorities. Voting records while in office are an important part of what goes into continued endorsement of any candidate.
But with power brings greater responsibility, and having a PAC brings extensive duty to the overall organization. We believe a thorough process with multiple channels of input is the best way to consider endorsements. Because of the process we set forth, we can stand behind the results that come of it.
At SBAM, our legislative work is intentionally bi-partisan, and that goes for our PAC process as well. SBAM proudly endorses both Republicans and Democrats committed to be a voice for small business. Over the past couple of years, with a Democratic Governor and a Republican-led Legislature, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of carrying a bi-partisan message and working collaboratively with key stakeholders regardless of the letter behind their name. SBAM has been the trusted business voice to bring this common-sense approach to the table, and this is something we intend to continue into this year and beyond. The 2022 election with newly redistricted maps will likely result in more fighting between and within the political parties. Still, SBAM stands firm in its commitment to identify and strongly support pro-small business candidates regardless of party affiliation. Please join us.
Alexa Kramer is SBAM’s Director of Government Operations. You can reach her at email@example.com.