One of the more unique experiences I had last week at the GOP convention was snagging a seat at an exclusive lunch that featured five senators and fewer than 75 other attendees. I sat across the table from one senior Senator whom I've admired for over a decade and had more than polite conversation (we talked primarily about Senator Lieberman's theatrics on the second night of the event). But what struck me most about the luncheon was not just the power of the Washington fund raising machine (the reason for the event in the first place), but how important local lobbying is. At the lunch, I also spoke to two "public affairs" officials from a Fortune 500 company who shared with me a bit of the craziness involved when they enter new markets and geographies.
From this conversation, I learned that the amount of lobbying required to overcome entrenched special interests and corruption in certain local markets is even greater than what is required to promote and lobby for low tariffs and free trade in DC in many cases. Alas, spend matters in lobbying just as much as it does in direct materials sourcing. Still, the luncheon reinforced for me that the battle to win over politicians on both sides of the aisle has as much to do with ideology and convincing arguments as it does with dollars. And that's a good thing -- especially if your company can afford the right public affairs staff!
- Jason Busch