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The Proper Care and Feeding of a Champion

The advocacy process can be very complex and much of it is hidden from view. Often you need a policymaker (or two) to act as your champion inside the system.

Ideally, your champion will be someone who:

A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do and like it.

-- Harry Truman

  • Is influential within the system you want to influence - a legislator can be influential in advocating within the administration and vice versa
  • Is experienced at working within the system
  • Knowledgeable about your issue
  • Dedicated to the cause, perhaps for personal reasons
  • Works easily with you and your organization

Champions can be

  • Legislators
  • Legislative staffers
  • Agency staffers
  • Lobbyists
  • Experienced advocates
  • Influential organizations - e.g. CBIA, CT State Medical Society, CCAG
  • Another elected official - e.g. a mayor

After you identify your champion(s) -TRUST them.

  • Get them what they need when they need it - e.g. information, fact sheets, mailings, a grant written, a letter to the editor
  • Do what they tell you - if they tell you to organize calls to a legislator, do it
  • Communicate with them often - let them know what is happening outside the process, find out what is happening inside
  • Thank them profusely and publicly
  • Support them after the process (and before the next time) - e.g. make sure your supporters know of their hard work, work on their campaign

In advocacy trainings, I advise that if your champion wants you to walk his dog, do it. Legislative and administrative processes have become so complex that an inside strategy is often necessary.

RELATED ARTICLES

In "Separated by Velvet Ropes" published 5/25/03 in the Hartford Courant's Northeast magazine, Kevin Rennie describes the culture and frenzy at the end of the legislative session. A former Senator, his description is vivid and accurate.

How to work with campaigns

Navigating the Legislative Process

Administrative Advocacy

Effective Communications

Tips No Advocate should forget

Classic Advocate Mistakes

The Importance of Legislative Staff

Visiting with a Policymaker

Writing to Policymakers

Calling a Policymaker

Connecticut's Budget Process

Directions to the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol

Rules and customs for navigating within the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol

How to work with a lobbyist

Legislators - Who are They?

How to Create Fact Sheets and Action Alerts

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