Like most lobbyists, Chuck Merin, executive vice president of the Prime Policy Group, already has met some of the new arrivals at fundraisers or client events. He said one-on-one interaction to assess the newly elected members is vital.
“Part of the decision-making process for me, as I get to know new members, is to try and gauge their interests and capabilities and their willingness to take the lead on issues of mutual interest,” he said.
Merin has numerous clients in the travel and tourism business, so he will likely start with freshmen from states such as Florida, California or Hawaii (think Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard) that have a big tourist economy. “As a lobbyist since 1976, I fully appreciate the importance of developing relationships with new members on both sides of the aisle,” Merin said
After all, every future leader started off as a freshman lawmaker.
J.C. Scott, senior executive vice president of government relations for the medical device lobby AdvaMed, said his group begins with the members-elect from states in which his industry has a major presence, such as Massachusetts and Indiana. Both states have new incoming Democratic senators in Elizabeth Warren and Joe Donnelly, respectively.
“That is a good starting point, but we certainly don’t limit ourselves,” Scott said.
He added that already his group has reached out to some incoming freshmen, looking for opportunities to meet with them. AdvaMed, along with other industry groups, has scheduled a lobbying fly-in for Thursday at which executives from member companies plan to urge the repeal of a tax on medical devices included in the health care overhaul. But, he said, AdvaMed is also seeking meetings in the home states of incoming members.
“We are having some luck,” Scott said. “They do set up temporary cubicles, and they do have a phone and a desk and a staffer.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.