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Are you ready for the 2018 mid-term elections?

Whether it be a tsunami or just a high tide, will your boat be lifted or swamped?

Peter Molinaro
Robin Sexton

Once a new President takes office, the mid-term election can be a challenging time.  With 435 Congressmen, one-third of the Senate, 36 governorships, and over 6,000 state legislative seats being contested on November 6, 2018, the impact may be substantial.  Historically, the president’s party loses seats in Congress, and this year will be no different. Control of one or both houses of Congress is at stake, and thus the course of the remainder of President Trump’s first-term agenda.  Early indications from polling and election analysts are that the Democratic Party will make significant gains at all levels.

If you are enjoying the benefits of tax reform, smarter regulations and the general increase in confidence in the economy, this election will have consequences.  The fortunes of your company and your employees may be determined by the results.  What can you do about it?  Here are some actions you can take to engage in this most precious of civic duties:

Let your employees know about the implications of various policy decisions

With today’s skepticism of the news media, the government, and other institutions, employees may find the information you provide highly credible in determining for whom to cast their ballot. The Business and Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) found that in 2016 83% of employees found information provided by employers helpful in deciding how to vote. Straight talk about the implications that various policy decisions have on your company will help employees to personalize their choices. Care should be taken to avoid an overly partisan message. Stick to the issues and the qualifications of the candidates without expressly advocating for their election.

Meet with your key elected representatives

Are your congressman and state representatives aware of the contribution your company makes to the local and state economy?  If you need them to help you on an important matter, will they know who you are?  Arrange for a “meet your legislator” session, such as a brown bag lunch, or a plant tour and have them speak on issues that are relevant to your organization.  If they are running for re-election they will often want to visit your facility and meet with voters.

Meet with the challenger(s)

If the primary election is tantamount to the general election, it might be wise to meet with the key primary challengers. It benefits everyone to engage the challengers on issues important to your company’s success, especially if the candidates are not well-known.  It also provides employees with a frame of reference as they head into the election.   The same principle applies to credible challengers in the general election.

Contribute personally to the candidates of your choice

The average U.S. Senate race costs over $10 million and the average House race is a bargain by comparison at $1.7 million.  Some critical races can be far more costly, and attract significant “independent expenditures” from outside groups.  But candidates still need, and appreciate, direct contributions to their campaigns because they can control where and how the money is spent.  Don’t just mail a check, consider attending a fundraising event and make sure the candidate knows you are there.

Encourage political activism:  Operate a Get-Out-The-Vote Drive (GOTV)

Political analysts are saying that voter turnout will greatly impact the size of the “wave” (rise in the Democrats in elective office) in the 2018 mid-term election.  Encourage greater participation by providing information on registration and publicizing the dates of relevant primaries and the general election.  This can be done on your intranet site, or with information sent with paystubs or via email.  Again, it should be non-partisan and purely informational, but it is a great way to remind everyone of their civic responsibilities.

Amplify your visibility: Consider forming a Political Action Committee (PAC)

If government policy is an important factor in the success of your business, you may want to consider forming a Political Action Committee.  This provides an avenue for your employees to engage fully in the political process, as well as to give your organization a stronger voice in the political arena. The company can use business funds to pay all costs associated with the administration of a PAC.  This in turn allows 100% of the money collected from employees to be used in support of candidates who are like-minded on issues related to your organization.

If you are looking for an affordable way to conduct some or all of these activities, HillStaffer, LLC can help with strategy and implementation.

Peter Molinaro, Senior Advisor with Hillstaffer, LLC served as Vice President, North America Government Affairs with The Dow Chemical Company.

Robin Sexton, Senior Advisor with HillStaffer, LLC, and Principal, Sexton PAC Consulting