League Hosts Advocacy Forum to Prepare CU Champions for Coming Elections, Lobbying Work in Richmond and Washington
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan: Educate Lawmakers Before Going To Richmond
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-9) told 30 credit union champions assembled for the League’s Advocacy Forum that “it’s up to you to educate lawmakers” and it’s best to start the process before the General Assembly session begins.
Once the legislature is in session, she said, it’s like drinking out of a fire hose for lawmakers with myriad meetings with committees and constituents as well as the House or Senate sessions.
“You’re competing with everything else” if you wait until your organization’s advocacy day to make first contact with a lawmaker. She suggested inviting lawmakers to visit credit unions well before legislative sessions.
She added that even though she is a long-time credit union member, she never worked at one, nor is there any current legislator who is a credit union employee, which makes it even more critical for credit union advocates to talk to their elected officials.
“You are also on the front line of seeing individuals struggling with problems. You need to be part of the solution,” she said.
She clued the audience into what she considers when deciding how to vote on a bill. “What problem are you trying to solve? How does this legislation solve that problem, and are their unintended consequences? Who benefits?”
Responding to a question as to what factors play into lawmakers’ decisions on supporting legislation, she said that they do consider how it will affect re-election chances. She said lawmakers don’t believe their elections rise or fall on credit union issues.
Veteran Politico Gives Advice
Nationally recognized political pundit Bob Holsworth also urged Forum attendees to get to know their lawmakers.
He said, there are many new lawmakers in the legislature. “In the House, half of them have been there 4 years or less. What that means is they don’t know you. You have to talk to these people before they get to Richmond. Many don’t have business agendas. You need to educate them. You need to build the relationship.”
He also noted that since Virginia legislators are part-time, they have a limited range of knowledge.
Holsworth, the first speaker at the Forum, previewed Sen. McClellan’s appearance by saying she is considered a strong candidate for statewide office. During her appearance, she was asked if she intended to run for governor. She said that she is now focusing on her Senate campaign and is not ready to make an official announcement.
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