Perhaps What Congress Needs Now Is - You! - Washington Insider
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Perhaps What Congress Needs Now Is - You!

Christian Klein

Article Date: 01-01-2011
Copyright(C) 2011 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

The AED members I know are every bit as qualified as any of Washington’s newest arrivals.

I recently sat down to look at
every new representative and senator’s bio. It’s a pretty diverse group. The incoming freshman class includes everything from Bible camp directors and owners of a funeral home, cherry orchard, and pottery company, to lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officials, insurance agents, and military officers. They’re overwhelmingly Republican, and many of them have no previous political experience.  Then I noticed something else about the new members of Congress: A good number come from industries related to ours.

  • Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Lou Barletta (R-PA) started and ran highway construction companies. Reid Ribble (R-WI) ran a roofing company. Jesse Kelly (R-AZ) was a construction project manager.
  • Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) come from farm equipment dealership backgrounds.
  • Bill Huizenga (R-MI) co-owns an aggregate operation.
  • David McKinley (R-WV) is a civil engineer who owns his own design/build firm.
  • David Schweikert (R-AZ), Billy Long (R-MO), Tom Reed (R-NY), Rick Berg (R-ND), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Quico Canseco (R-TX) all have backgrounds in real estate or development.
  • Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Scott Rigell (R-VA) own car dealerships. 
That’s good news. These new members of Congress will be natural allies for us as we work to reauthorize the highway, sewer, drinking water, and airport programs; promote independent distribution; turn the housing market around; reform the health care law; and generally pursue pro-growth tax and regulatory policies.

But as I thought about the list – contractors, ag equipment dealers, quarry operators, engineers, developers, car dealers – I noticed something was missing: construction equipment distributors. 

I’ve met a lot of the people listed above. They’re intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, and they worked hard to win last November. But if you look at their backgrounds, they’re generally not any more qualified for political office than you are. The reason they got elected was that they stood up and said, “Stop the madness! We deserve better from our government.”

You’re Every Bit As Qualified
That’s a sentiment I know many AED members share. So why aren’t there more equipment distributors in politics? After all, the AED members I know bring a lot to the table. You understand how to make tough management decisions and balance a budget. You know how to sell products and ideas. You understand the real world impact of infrastructure, tax, environmental, and labor policy. You’re visible in your community.

You have contacts (and maybe even employees) throughout the state. And if you’re reading this, you’ve survived the worst times our industry has seen in generations and lived to tell the tale. That means you’re smart, tenacious, and/or lucky, all of which help if you’re in politics!

So why not step up and run for office? If you’re thinking about it, keep in mind that the best oppor-tunities for pro-business, challenger candidates in the upcoming election cycle will be in the Senate. Of the 33 seats up for grabs, 23 are held by Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats), while Republicans will be defending just 10. View list of senators whose terms are up in 2012. 

Don’t get me wrong: A Senate campaign isn’t something to be entered into lightly, and politics isn’t for everyone. But if a newcomer like Ron Johnson, a plastics manufacturing company owner in Wisconsin can come from nowhere and defeat a three-term incumbent like Sen. Russ Feingold (D), then anything is possible in the new political environment.

The 2010 elections remind us that you don’t need to be a lawyer or career politician to get elected to Congress. You just need to have energy, strong character, and good ideas. I’ve met more than a few AED members who meet that description.

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Article Categories:  Business Outlooks  »  Public Policy