Business owners and CEOs have always been an important part of the fabric of American politics, back to when a scrappy entrepreneur named Ben Franklin ranked as one of the most important founding fathers.
The last several campaign cycles have seen a strong representation of current and former company chiefs and owners getting directly involved as political candidates, on the national level as well as on the state and local levels where they’ve typically been populous. They have scored some important successes, such as Gateway CEO Rick Snyder’s victory in the Michigan governor’s race in 2010, as well as some high-profile failures, including former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful bid to wrest a U.S. Senate seat in California away from Barbara Boxer in 2012.
Anecdotally at least, the number of such candidates, especially on the Republican side, seems to have crescendoed over the last six years out of a conviction by business owners that their leadership in Washington, D.C., could help a listless economy and, often, out of abject opposition to President Obama’s economic policies and attitude toward the contributions of business.
This campaign season, which kicked off officially on Labor Day weekend, hasn’t seen much let-up in the intensity of interest in higher political office by entrepreneurs and CEOs. Those who survived the primaries and are their party’s candidate for the November elections for the House of Representatives, for instance, include French Hill, founder of Delta Trust & Bank in Little Rock., Ark., who’s running on the Republican ticket in the 2nd Congressional District in Arkansas. “A conservative business leader—not a politician—fighting Washington’s attacks on Arkansans” is how Hill is running.