My newest story for Roanoke Business magazine hit the stands this month. It looks at who businesses in the Roanoke and New River valleys supported during Virginia’s 2013 elections.
While most of the media attention focused on the competitive statewide races, most local businesses went the other way, with most of their dollars going to candidates in the lower-profile General Assembly elections.
1) Those races tend to be less competitive. Even when there’s a challenger (and in many cases there’s not) it’s usually easy to pick the winner. That makes campaign giving less of a gamble.
2) The stakes are lower and the districts are smaller, meaning that dollars (and potential influence) stretch farther.
3) Most importantly, the General Assembly is where laws and policy are made. The vast majority of bills that come through the legislature get hashed out at the committee level and pass with little or no controversy. Having a sympathetic ear at that level makes sense for businesses who may be affected by said laws and policy.
Final observation: A lot of businesses effectively outsource their campaign research, donating to trade organizations and their political action committees, which then focus their giving to the most influential legislators (often defined by seniority on a relevant committee).
You can read more in my story, either online or in Roanoke Business magazine, which is available on the way out of regional grocery stores or in the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.