It’s midterm election season, which may be a good time to consider involvement in political affairs. 

While some see Congress as motivated only by reelection, Dennis Quebe of Chapel-Romanoff Technologies, LLC, Dayton, Ohio, sees politicians differently. Of his Ohio delegation, he said, “While I may not agree with their position on every issue, I firmly believe both Sens. DeWine and Voinovich and Congressman Turner to be of high moral and ethical character.”

Quebe believes that contractors should develop relationships with legislators.

Three lines of communication connect contractors to politicians inside the Beltway, including Washington representation, an active network of industry leaders and a robust political war chest.

Should contractors care what goes on in Washington?

“When you have to put money aside to help pay a federal tax, money that could help grow your business, it affects your business,” said Robert White, executive director for Government Affairs at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). “When you must pay defense lawyers against false, frivolous lawsuits that could be prevented with national legislation, it affects how you do business.”

Federal legislation can affect hiring, job safety, the ability to bid on jobs and the amount you can pass on to your family. Today, much has changed in the industry, but Washington representation can be an important component in protecting the industry.

“Contractors should participate in the political process at the federal, state and local levels in order to make the communities we serve better places to live, work and do business,” said Quebe. “This participation includes active engagement with public policymakers.”

Members of Congress may be more inclined to listen to the needs of those contractors who make contact in their district or with congressional staff in Washington. In an era where members of Congress received 200 million pieces of postal and electronic mail in 2004, personal contact may make a difference.

How much influence can a single contractor have on Congress? A lot, says the Congressional Management Foundation in a report titled, “Communicating with Congress.” Constituents have “some” or “a lot of influence” when the legislator has not established a position on an issue. The report also stresses the need for personal contact, as many offices are suspicious of association-generated form letters. Congressional offices want to hear personal stories, not canned ones. This leaves the door open for contractors to let their personal experience be heard.