Election 2018: Engage Now 

Every two years politicians, pundits and newspaper editorial boards proclaim the importance and high stakes of the upcoming election. As the 2018 campaigns hit full throttle, this year is proving no different. While all elections have consequences, the approaching midterms are shaping up to be incredibly important, particularly for the construction equipment industry.

Democrats need to flip 23 congressional districts in the House (more if they lose current Democratic seats) to have the majority. To take control of the Senate, Democrats must keep all of the states they currently occupy and win two from the Republicans. Most will agree, the Senate map strongly favors Republicans and the House is currently considered up for grabs. 

Unlike previous midterm elections, such as 2010, even though Republicans are playing defense, as of now it’s looking like it won’t be a wave election. Candidates matter, and the battle will be fought in individual districts and states and likely not necessarily determined by a big national issue (think the Affordable Care Act in 2010).

As I’m meeting with aspiring members of Congress, it’s clear that the 2018 election is different from prior midterms and is reflective of the political polarization in the country. Generally, in safe or solid Democratic or Republican districts, it’s always expected that the candidate will be either solidly liberal or solidly conservative. However, in the approximately 50 competitive congressional seats across the country, the general rule was that the contenders would be more “conventional” members of their parties and lean toward the center of the political spectrum. This year it’s definitely different.

I’ve met with formidable candidates where nominees in close races are taking positions that lean to the extreme of their respective political parties. For example, I recently met with a pair of Democratic candidates running in competitive congressional districts with a retiring Republican incumbent. Both are running on a platform of repealing the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act and enacting single payer healthcare. To address the workforce shortage, one of the candidates suggested expanding labor unions. These aren’t fringe candidates or disciples of Bernie Sanders. They’Election 2018 bre legitimate contenders in districts that can easily flip parties in the fall.

Similarly, I’ve met with countless Republican candidates, many seeking to replace exiting GOP lawmakers or challenging current members of Congress in primaries. A shocking number of these individuals have asserted that current levels of infrastructure investment are perfectly adequate. Several even described their belief that the nation’s infrastructure needs are drastically overstated and it’s time to look at cutting the highway program! Again, these are candidates that have a very real chance of serving in Congress next year representing swing districts with positions outside the mainstream of their party.

The result of this trend doesn’t bode well for the political center where deals on big issues, such as infrastructure investment, come together. However, there are members of the House and Senate and new candidates that are committed to the construction equipment industry’s legislative priorities such as pro-growth tax, energy and labor policies, commonsense regulations, workforce development, and strong infrastructure programs. Nonetheless, many of these industry champions are at extreme risk of losing their elections this fall.

The days of assuming that candidates in swing districts will be mainstream members of their political parties are over. Consequently, regardless of political party, it’s important to examine candidates closely before donating to campaigns and heading to the polls. It’s also crucial to learn more about the AED PAC, the Association’s political action committee. By allowing AED members to pool personal contributions to support candidates seeking federal elected office, the AED PAC is a tool to increase the effectiveness of the Association’s government affairs program by helping elect federal candidates that support common policy goals.

There’s too much at stake for the industry in November to be a casual observer. AED members must get involved to ensure the next Congress has a pro-AED majority.

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