Tales From the Trail

SEMA News—June 2018


By Christian Robinson and Eric Snyder

Tales From the Trail

SEMA-Affiliated State Legislators Run for Congress in 2018

Most political coverage centers on Washington D.C.; however, less visible decisions made in state capitols profoundly impact lives and businesses. Statehouses are especially critical for SEMA members, as many—perhaps most—specialty auto products are directly regulated at the state level.

SEMA formed the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus in 2005 to expand the association’s relationships in state legislatures and to assist its advocacy on the issues that matter most to its members. With current membership of more than 750 legislators representing all 50 states, the caucus has been critical in achieving SEMA’s policy objectives in state capitols around the country while also helping SEMA develop close ties to elected officials before they run for federal office. In fact, many of SEMA’s closest allies in Congress were members of the state caucus before they decided to run for federal office, including U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Paul Cook (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mimi Walters (R-CA), and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who previously served in the U.S. House.

The 2018 mid-term congressional elections this November are fast approaching. With party primaries scheduled anywhere from early March to mid-September, it’s time to start looking at the candidates running for office. Nine of the current State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus members are among the field of candidates running for U.S. Congress this year. Here is a brief look at what each brings to the table.

  Geoff Diehl
Massachusetts State Representative Geoff Diehl is running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on September 4.

Geoff Diehl

Massachusetts State Representative Geoff Diehl is hoping to knock off U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a 2020 presidential hopeful, before she can even announce her candidacy. Diehl is one of several Republicans competing in the Republican primary on September 4.

An advertising and television executive by trade, Rep. Diehl was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2010. Diehl’s signature achievement was leading 2014’s successful “Yes on 1” campaign, which repealed the state’s annual automatic increase in the gas tax.

In 2016, he served as co-chairman of his state’s effort to elect Donald J. Trump president. To learn more about Rep. Diehl’s candidacy, visit his website at www.diehlforsenate.com.

Dan Hamilton
South Carolina State Representative Dan Hamilton is running in the June 12 Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District.

Dan Hamilton

South Carolina State Representative Dan Hamilton is one of seven Republican candidates competing in the June 12 primary to succeed U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Gowdy announced in January that he would not seek re-election in November.

Hamilton is the owner of a Greenville real estate firm and has represented South Carolina’s 20th district in the state’s House of Representatives since 2009. In the House, he serves on the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and the Rules Committee.

Hamilton is no stranger to the inner workings of Congress. He served as a congressional aide to then U.S. Representative Jim DeMint (R-SC) prior to becoming a candidate for office himself. Visit www.votedanhamilton.com for more information on Hamilton’s campaign.

  Mike Kowall
Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall is running for Congress in the August 7 Republican primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional district.

Mike Kowall

Michigan legislator Mike Kowall is hoping that his track record as Senate majority floor leader will propel him to the Republican nomination on August 7. The incumbent, U.S. Representative David Trott (R-MI), who has represented the people of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District since 2015, announced his intention to retire at the end of his current term.

Kowall first heard the call to public service after a career as the president of a family-owned business, Accurate Woodworking. Since then, he has won several awards for his work in public office, including the Michigan Manufacturers Association’s Legislator of the Year in 2017. Visit www.mikekowallforcongress.com for the latest from the campaign trail.

Bobby Nardolillo
Rhode Island State Representative Bobby Nardolillo is competing in the September 12 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Bobby Nardolillo

Rhode Island State Representative Bobby Nardolillo is one of two Republican candidates competing to take on U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the general election. Rep. Nardolillo has represented the people of District 28 (Coventry) since 2015. In addition to serving in the state legislature, Nardolillo helps manage his family’s funeral homes in Cranston and Narragansett.

While Nardolillo faces an uphill climb in his race to represent Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate, he’s proven that he’s a relentless campaigner, knocking on the door of every house in his district during his 2014 campaign (roughly 14,000 people in the district). With Rhode Island’s primary occurring on September 12, Rep. Nardolillo has the summer to canvass the Bay State. To keep up with Nardolillo’s campaign, visit www.bobby4senate.com.

  Andy Sanborn
New Hampshire Senator Andy Sanborn is competing in the September 11 Republican primary to represent the 1st District.

Andy Sanborn

New Hampshire Senator Andy Sanborn is no stranger to the automotive specialty-equipment aftermarket industry. Sanborn previously owned and operated a SEMA-member company and has attended the SEMA Show several times. Sen. Sanborn is a certified gearhead, as his hobbies include riding motorcycles, racing cars, and working on them as well. In addition to serving in the State Senate for the past seven years, Sanborn can be found working at his restaurant, The Draft Sports Bar and Grill.

Sen. Sanborn is hoping to capture the Republican nomination on September 11 to replace retiring U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) in Congress. Sen. Sanborn is one of four Republican candidates in the race, which also includes eight Democrats looking to be the next representative for the 1st District. To learn more about Sanborn and his campaign, visit www.andysanborn.com.

Van Taylor
Texas State Senator Van Taylor won the Republican primary for Texas’ 3rd Congressional District on March 6.

Van Taylor

Texas State Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano) handily won the Republican primary on March 6, capturing 84.7% of the vote. Sen. Taylor is heavily favored to win the 3rd Congressional District seat in November, which is located north of Dallas. It is being vacated by 14-term U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX).

Sen. Taylor is a decorated Marine officer who served as a recon platoon commander and intelligence officer during the war in Iraq, earning the Combat Action Ribbon, a Presidential Unit Citation, and the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” for valor for his service. Taylor has worked in real estate investment banking for more than 15 years and has served in the Texas State Legislature since 2010, first as a House member and then in the Senate (2015–present). Learn more about Taylor’s campaign for Congress by visiting www.vantaylor.com.

Marty Gearheart
West Virginia State Representative Marty Gearheart competed in the May 8 Republican primary to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.
Carol Miller
West Virginia State Representative Carol Miller competed in the May 8 Republican primary to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.
Rupert Phillips
West Virginia State Representative Rupie Phillips competed in the May 8 Republican primary to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.

West Virginia

With U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-WV) vacating his seat to run for the U.S. Senate, the race to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional is hotly contested. Seven candidates are competing for the Republican nomination, including State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus members Marty Gearheart, Carol Miller and Rupie Phillips. The primary election took place on May 8, after the print deadline for this issue of SEMA News. Be sure to check next month’s issue for information on the contest’s winner.

SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Sean Crawford  

Sean CrawfordSean Crawford is the vice president of marketing and business development at Race Winning Brands, which is based in Mentor, Ohio. Crawford joined the SEMA PAC President’s Club in 2017 and currently serves as chair-elect of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC).

“As a third-generation car enthusiast, my reason for involvement is simple: I want to do everything I can to ensure that there is a fourth, fifth and beyond,” Crawford said. “The regulatory threats to our industry are very real. All of us spend a tremendous amount of time focusing on the now, but a small fraction of those resources directed toward the future will pay off big. SEMA PAC is the best equipped to address these issues head on, but they need our support.”

SEMA PAC helps you keep pace by supporting the candidates and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who understand the importance of what SEMA members do. For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC and Congressional Relations Director Christian Robinson at 202-794-8279 or christianr@sema.org

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