Big Change is a’coming to Congress. Are you going to be ready?

Are you ready for a new Congress? One is coming in less than 60 days.

There will be a new Speaker, no matter which party controls the House, as Paul Ryan is leaving Congress. There will be new committee chairs and ranking members. There will be new committee assignments. There will also be new congressional staff.

Capitol hill building at night illuminated with light, Washington DC. (AdobeStock 22160501)

According to Ballotpedia, as of today, there are 56 representatives not seeking re-election to their U.S. House districts, 38 Republicans and 18 Democrats. Additionally, 15 of the 2016 class in the House left office early to take another government position or simply resigned for one reason or another.

That leaves us with 71 House seats that have no elected incumbent running in the Mid-Term election, which represents over 16% of the 435 Congressional House seats, which is a pretty significant amount of change. Put another way:  1 out of 6 will be a new Member of Congress. And that is only if the 364 remaining Members of Congress all get re-elected.

No matter your issue, view or perspective, there will be a lot of new faces in Congress in January 2019. With new faces – come new staff. The congressional staff turnover will be high and this is going to require a lot of education, along with a targeted, focused approach to advocacy.

The Mid-Terms will also have a big impact on the state legislative races.: 46 states – representing 88 chambers, have elections this fall. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are nearly 10,000 candidates running to fill 6,066 open seats.

Whether this year’s elections are the most important in a lifetime, as some pundits have professed, is debatable. What’s is not, is that elections, which are the driving beat of a thriving healthy democracy –  have significant consequences.

What are the consequences to your organization? And what are they as a government affairs and grassroots professional? Or better yet, why should it matter to you? Here are just a few reasons why we think the answer is a resounding yes:

  • You, your staff, and your stakeholders will be expected to quickly develop relationships with each of the newly elected. You will need to get up to speed on their background, their experiences, their personal motivations, and their policy goals. In other words, just what makes them tick?
  • You will need to find out who is new on staff for all 435 Members of the U.S. House and the 100 Members of the U.S. Senate.
  • With this much change, you will also need to fully leverage an asset you may or may not have leaned in the past – your own stakeholders: employees, members or maybe even alumni who because of preexisting ties, can offer you insight and access to these new policy-makers and their staff. By tapping into this resource, you can determine:
    • Who knows whom, among the newly elected?
    • How well do they know them?
    • How are they willing to interact (advocate) with them?
  • Then you will want to keep track and report to your organization leaders how well you have been able to get your arms around this monumental tasks.

Twenty years ago, achieving even some of these tasks would have been a daunting, if almost monumental feat of success. Today, there are technology tools on the market that work as advocacy relationship managers (ARM) much like CRMs – customer relationship management. The best example of a CRM is cloud based Salesforce. The ARM – advocacy relationship management – allows you grow and track your grassroots and grasstops stakeholders in one convienent central location, link these stakeholders with elected officials within the state legislatures and the U.S. Congress and provides you with detailed information on elected officals, their staff, and your key stakeholders – all in one cloud based platform. Ultimately, a ARM solution is the game-changing piece of technology that every serious advocacy and governmental affairs team must give serious consideration. And if not now, with all this change, then when? Today’s tech offerings makes an old phrase even more appropriate and possible: Sometimes, where there is chaos, there is opportunity.

Change is a’coming – are you going to be ready?

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