By SEMA Washington, D.C, Staff
The 2020 campaign season is nearing a close, and it is important that the men and women who make up the specialty automotive aftermarket make their voices heard on election day. The stakes couldn’t be higher on November 3. Before you head into the voting booth, please take time to learn about the members of Congress and state lawmakers who support the automotive aftermarket. The sections below highlight members of the congressional and state automotive enthusiast caucuses in addition to the members of Congress who are the aftermarket’s biggest champions.
The race for the presidency between incumbent President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has consumed the national media’s attention, although voters will also elect all 435 members of the U.S. House, 35 U.S. senators, 13 governors and thousands of state and local leaders in 44 states holding legislative elections. With the finish line so close, there is no better time to prepare for and fulfill our civic duty as Americans. The Voter Information tool on the SEMA Action Network (SAN) website provides you with information on your state’s voting dates and deadlines. In advance, find out if your state and federal representatives are affiliated with the automotive hobby-friendly, SEMA-supported federal and states caucuses at www.semaSAN.com/FederalCaucus (includes 71 members of Congress) and www.semaSAN.com/StateCaucus (comprised of more than 700 state lawmakers). You can also locate your elected officials under the “Legislators” tab at www.semaSAN.com.
Many of the racing and performance industry’s closest allies are up for re-election. It is imperative that these lawmakers are re-elected and back in office next year to fight for the industry and the hobbyists that make it possible. Please note the members of Congress profiled in this article and take time to research the people running to represent you in Washington and in your state capitol.
Why wait? Act today by planning to vote! If you won’t be able to make it to the polls on November 3, don’t forget to make plans to vote early or by absentee ballot. On behalf of our industry, take part in our democracy and make your voice heard on election day.
KEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
Congressman Sanford Bishop proudly serves as co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Bishop is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and has been serving in Congress since 1992. He’s been a longtime supporter of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which clarifies that it is legal for companies to manufacture, sell, distribute, and install race parts that modify the emissions system of a car, truck, or motorcycle that is being converted for race use only. He was also a cosponsor of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which created a streamlined regulatory process for small automotive businesses looking to produce classically styled replica vehicles. To learn more about Rep. Bishop’s support for the industry, click here.
U.S. Representative Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
A first-term member of Congress, Rep. Anthony Brindisi has proven himself to be a strong supporter of motorsports. He enthusiastically agreed to support the RPM Act shortly after becoming a member of Congress and has since worked with senior lawmakers to advance the bill. Rep. Brindisi has also fought to reopen New York racetracks to spectators. He is co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Caucus and is a member of both the Bipartisan Working Group and the Career and Technical Education Caucus.
U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC)
During his time in Congress, Rep. Richard Hudson has proven himself to be a defender of motorsports. As a passionate racing fan and the hometown congressman for Charlotte Motor Speedway and much of the race parts industry, Rep. Hudson is the only member of Congress who prominently displays the hood of a race car in his Washington, D.C., office. He is the leading Republican voice on the Energy & Commerce Committee for the RPM Act and has even questioned the two past U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrators during public hearings about their position on the conversion of motor vehicles for racing. To learn more about Rep. Hudson’s stalwart support for the RPM Act, click here.
U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
While there are more than a few gearheads in Congress, the zeal Congressman Doug LaMalfa has for the hobby and collection of classic vehicles puts him in a class of his own. Rep. LaMalfa started wrenching on cars during his formative years, and his passion for buying and personalizing vehicles continued to grow in the decades since. His fleet includes Ford trucks from ’34 and ’50, Mustangs (’65, ’68, ’03 and ’13), a ’69 Torino Talladega, a ’72 Pantera and ’55 and ’56 Thunderbirds that he maintains for his parents. Rep. LaMalfa is a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, and is a strong advocate for the RPM Act. To learn more about Rep. LaMalfa’s passion for everything automotive, click here.
U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
Elected to Congress at the age of 29, Rep. Patrick McHenry quickly rose through the ranks and distinguished himself as a leader in the House. A longstanding member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, Rep. McHenry contacted SEMA upon hearing about the EPA’s efforts to regulate race parts and prohibit motor vehicles from being converted for racing. Within a matter of days he had introduced the RPM Act, and he’s been a leading advocate for the bill ever since. To learn more about Rep. McHenry through a Q&A with the Congressman, click here.
U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Since being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, Congressman Markwayne Mullin has been a strong ally of automotive enthusiasts on the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee. He was the lead sponsor of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act and has advocated for the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement the law. Prior to running for Congress in 2012, Rep. Mullin grew his family’s plumbing company from a small business to one of the largest service companies in eastern Oklahoma. Rep. Mullin is an automotive enthusiast whose hobbies include rock crawling, working cattle, and mixed martial arts. To learn more about Rep. Mullin, here’s an interview and video about the Congressman.
U.S. Representative Bill Posey (R-FL)
A longtime racer, Rep. Bill Posey is also co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus. Growing up near Los Angeles, Rep. Posey spent his early days attending races with his father. Rep. Posey started racing midgets at age 5 and raced for many years afterward before running for Congress. He is the proud owner of a ’66 Chevelle Malibu and has been a champion for both the RPM Act and all things racing. To learn more about Rep. Posey, click here.
U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Before he was elected to Congress, Rep. Raul Ruiz spent his formative years working on the pit crew of his father’s Southern California midget team. The four-term congressman is the lead Democrat sponsor of the RPM Act and has been a prominent voice on the Energy & Commerce Committee for the bill. Prior to running for Congress in 2012, Rep. Ruiz was an emergency physician at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, and founded the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative, which brought together stakeholders from across the region to address local healthcare needs.
U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
As the proud owner of a midnight-blue ’14 Ford Shelby Cobra Mustang that’s equipped with a 662-hp engine and racing tires, Congressman Kurt Schrader has a passion for speed. He is a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus and is a leading voice for racing on the Energy & Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the RPM Act. To learn more about Rep. Schrader and his visit to Warn Industries, a SEMA member company, click here.
U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA)
As the longtime congressman representing Sonoma Raceway (and the surrounding communities), it is no coincidence that Rep. Mike Thompson is a champion of all things racing. Rep. Thompson is co-chair of the Congressional Motorsports Caucus and a co-sponsor of the RPM Act. He was the lead sponsor of the Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act, a bill that made permanent the seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Having become the first female U.S. Senator in West Virginia’s history in 2014, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has proven herself a strong advocate for the state. Sen. Capito chaired the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air during the 2017–2018 session of Congress, marshalling the RPM Act through a hearing on the bill. She has been a strong supporter of racing and is an original cosponsor of the bill. To learn more about why Sen. Capito served as an original cosponsor of the RPM Act, click here.
U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
A longtime motorcyclist, Sen. Gary Peters is a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus and co-chair of the Senate Motorcycle Caucus. When Congress is out of session in August, Sen. Peters is known for spending a week traveling across Michigan by motorcycle to meet with his constituents. He has been a strong supporter of the RPM Act during his first term in the Senate. To learn more about Sen. Peters and his visit to a SEMA member company, click here.
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Hailing from a state with a rich racing heritage, Sen. Thom Tillis understands the importance of motorsports to North Carolina, and is a passionate advocate for racers and the race parts industry. Sen. Tillis is an original sponsor of the RPM Act and has worked closely with North Carolina’s Senior Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) to support the bill.
*SEMA would also like to recognize U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who are among the strongest allies of the racing industry. It is important to highlight each of these senators while noting that they are not up for re-election in 2020. Senators Burr and Manchin serve as RPM Act lead sponsors, and Senators Braun and Tester have been tireless advocates for the bill. Additionally, Senators Burr and Tester serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus.