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Candidates Need Help From Business TODAY

Posted by: Jason Zacher on Thursday, September 18, 2014
Knowing which candidate you are going to support is not enough. You must take action if you want your pro-business candidate to get elected. For the candidate, a campaign is kind of like a start-up business: You need to raise as much capital as you can, get the word out, and go get as many customers as you can. You start from scratch, need a lot of help, and put in a lot of time. The big difference is that the campaign will only be around for a few months. The good news is, as a business leader, helping a candidate really isn’t too hard. Getting pro-business candidates elected to office is vital for business leaders. In the wake of the 2008 and 2010 elections, both the Democratic and Republican parties have gained sizeable populist movements, and in the national debate, capitalism and profit are dirty words. Neither party has an exclusive hold on being pro-business, and it’s smart for a business person to consider playing both sides of the aisle. If the last four national elections have taught us about America, we’re split 50-50 and willing to swap party control back and forth. If you run a business, Republican or Democrat, you know that capitalism and profit aren’t dirty words. So no matter your political persuasion, it is important that you get involved. Here are five ways you can today: 1)      Introductions. You decided that Ben Haskew is your preferred candidate for State Senate. (Disclaimer: State Senate isn’t on the ballot in 2014, and Ben Haskew signs my paychecks, so I’m shamelessly kissing up.) If he’s your candidate, the first thing you can do is introduce him to your friends. If you work at a large office, bank, or law firm, do an informal meet-and-greet in a conference room, but check with your office rules first.  If you own a business, consider doing a tour or letting the candidate give a short speech to your employees. On a more personal level, you could hold a meet-and-greet at your home with people from your street or subdivision. Just be sure to check with them before setting any dates! 2)      Signs. You have a trusting relationship with your customers, so a campaign sign in front of your business goes a long way. 3)      Volunteer. All campaigns need help. Introducing the candidate around is a great first step. Offering more concrete help is always appreciated. Can you open your office so a candidate can use your phone lines to make phone-bank calls? Are you willing to send out personal emails or make phone calls? Maybe write a few personal notes to friends? Most campaigns are run exclusively by volunteers, and every campaign has a shortage. Offering your time – particularly in mid- to late-October – will go a long way toward helping a candidate get elected. 4)      Get Used. OK, used is a loaded word, but let the candidate use your business as a backdrop for a policy announcement or press conference. Bonus: You may get quoted or your business could be the beneficiary of some high-profile media coverage. 5)      Money. Money is the mother’s milk of politics. It’s a bother for those asking and those asked, but if a candidate wants to get his message out to a broader audience, it takes money. Write a check to the candidate or volunteer to serve as a finance chairman and help the candidate solicit funds.
  1. In South Carolina, you can give a maximum of $1,000 to a local or General Assembly candidate and $3,500 to a statewide candidate.
  2. The limit is $2,600 per person for a Federal candidate.
Candidates really remember people who bundle contributions from their friends, or host a fundraiser. That takes much more effort, but if you work in an industry that is heavily regulated or at the center of public debate, like healthcare, then that time could really be worth it down the road. 6) Just Ask. Every campaign has a different need. The candidate, the campaign manager, or the consultant will be happy to plug you in wherever your skills will best fit. If you only do one thing, call the candidate and ask what you can do. Even if the candidate has everything handled, they’ll appreciate that you reached out. Even that simple step can pay dividends for your business in the future, but I’ll get into that more in my next blog post. As always, if you’re a member of the Upstate Chamber Coalition, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about public policy and elections.


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