The summer of an election year is a busy time, and not just for candidates ringing doorbells, marching in parades and working the phone to rally support. It’s also a busy time for the Association of Washington Business.
Over the past two months, our government affairs team has coordinated and arranged dozens of interviews with legislative candidates across Washington. It’s a lot of work, but it’s one of the most important things we do every two years on behalf of employers.
Indeed, even though media coverage tends to focus on national politics and the possibility of a “red wave” in Congress, what happens in Olympia is sometimes just as important – or even more important – for people who own or operate a business here in Washington.
These candidate interviews, which include local business owners in each community, give employers the opportunity to hear directly from candidates and determine for themselves who best understands the issues they care about.
And employers are currently facing many challenges, from spiraling inflation to persistent workforce challenges, to continued supply chain disruption and concerns about the possibility of a recession. As we approach next year’s legislative session, it is critically important that we elect candidates who understand what employers are up against and who are committed to being champions of the economy.
Our election process actually began in May, before candidate interviews, when we announced the first endorsements of 45 incumbent legislative candidates. These are legislators who have a voting record of 80% or more with our association, demonstrating their continued support for a strong private sector.
The process will conclude in September with another round of approvals based on the results of the candidate interviews we conducted over the summer.
And sandwiched between the two, the AWB will organize a debate between the candidates for the post of Secretary of State. The debate will be broadcast live on the AWB website at 11 a.m. on August 17 and will feature the top two candidates from the August 2 primary election. Veteran political journalist Melissa Santos of Axios will serve as moderator.
Normally that office wouldn’t be up for election now, but former Secretary of State Kim Wyman resigned in November to take up a post in the Biden administration. Gov. Jay Inslee nominated Sen. Steve Hobbs for the position in December and Hobbs is now defending the seat in a special election that includes a total of eight primary ballot candidates.
Hosting debates like this is nothing new to AWB. For more than 30 years, we have considered our role as organizer of candidate debates – including Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Commissioner of Public Lands and Superintendent of Public Instruction – an important part of our mission. to be a unifying voice. economic prosperity throughout Washington.
Politics is messy and not always fun, especially in this age of growing polarization. And now, with the scorching summer days approaching, the November election may not be a priority for small employers and entrepreneurs who are focused on keeping their business going and, perhaps, a family trip before school starts.
But employers would be wise to use some of their time to get to know candidates and be more knowledgeable about issues that affect their results. Next year’s legislative session is likely to be particularly difficult, and we need legislators who will be champions of the economy.
Kris Johnson is president of the Washington Business Association, the state chamber of commerce and manufacturers association.
For more information on AWB’s election resources for employers, visit www.bit.ly/AWB2022election.