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A Dealer’s Race to Washington

This year, four men, all of them republican, ran for congressional seats. Nothing new about that, but the unique story about these men, they’re all car dealers.

This year’s November congressional election was one for the books. As the party seats change to the Republicans, so do the faces behind the suits. This year, four men, all of them republican, ran for congressional seats. Nothing new about that, but the unique story about these men, they’re all car dealers.

Scott Rigell, a 50-year old “lifelong Republican,” according to his website, is the founder and Chairman of Freedom Automotive in Virginia Beach. He, along side of his wife, own dealerships in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake, and employ over 240 people. He is a past president of the Hampton Roads Automobile Dealers Association, and recent representative-elect of Virginia’s second district congressional seat, an area that includes Virginia Beach.

According to scottrigell.com, Rigell, a former marine, gives the nature of his initial intention when he decided to make the leap from car dealer to congressman. “I am running to meet the obligation we have to pass on to our children and grandchildren an America that is safe, strong, and truly free. […] I am running because I want to move forward an Energy Independence Plan that will allow American workers to tap American sources of energy, both traditional and renewable for America’s homes and businesses. I am running because three generations of military service in my family has instilled in me a profound respect for and desire to serve our men and women in uniform and their families, whose sacrifices keep us free.” He follows with, “To change Congress, we must change the kind of people we send to Congress.” And changing the type of people sent, he has.

So what does it mean for Congress, as they bring in three dealer-turned-representatives? In their campaigns, each made it clear they’ll be leaving the wheel-and-deal attitudes behind to focus on the change ahead.

Another new face to Congress, Ohio’s 16th district seat went to fellow car dealer Jim Renacci. Renacci grew up in a working class family outside of Pittsburgh, Penn. He earned a degree in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and moved to Wadsworth, Ohio post graduation. In Ohio, he formed a management service that owned and operated nursing homes throughout Ohio. In 2003, he formed a financial consulting firm that took ownership of several businesses, and provided guidance for those in financial trouble. In 2004 to 2008, Renacci served as Mayor of Wadsworth. According to his site, “Jim brought his vast business experience to his role in government, converting the city’s multi-million dollar deficit into a surplus and balancing Wadsworth’s $80 million budget—all without raising taxes.”
Renacci’s platforms are to cut spending, add jobs, reduce taxes and improve upon the health care reform. The people of Ohio’s 16th district have put his name on the ballot, and are ready to see his platform take action.  

Tom Ganley, another dealer from northeastern Ohio, ran for the 13th district House seat this fall. However, democrat candidate Betty Sutton defeated him in November. There were many mixed opinions when this dealer decided to take the plunge into the political spotlight. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched campaigns against him, accusing him of being a dishonest car salesman that is simply trying to buy his way into Congress. While the candidate did own a private plane, he often donated it to the local police force to bring in family members of fallen officers.
In May, there was much less disturbance as Ganley easily won the primary election. He had received several important endorsements, including one from Ohio’s Morning Journal newspaper.

The fourth and final dealer-turn-congressman is Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania’s third congressional district. As a freshman face to congress, Kelly is looking to change in the economy, directly related to the spending and taxes we’ve seen proposed in years past. He believes Washington should function as his business does, if a program is not working, then modify the program—don’t add money to it.

So what does it mean for Congress, as they bring in three dealer-turned-representatives? In their campaigns, each made it clear they’ll be leaving the wheel-and-deal attitudes behind to focus on the change ahead. Get ready America; we’re in for a ride.

Remember, treat all your dealers’ accounts with equal respect and dignity, no matter your personal opinions, who knows, you might be influencing the next congressman!