Lecture notes – Class 1

Lecture Notes – Class 1 Adobe PDF file (includes class overview)

The Honorable Jeff Wentworth
A Graduate of Texas A&M and Texas Tech University School of Law, Senator Jeff Wentworth has experienced and witnessed some of the most dramatic changes in the state and nation’s political landscape.
His background as a army officer, congressional staff member, state and federal candidate, county commissioner, state representative, and state senator combine to allow us to enjoy the perspective of a dedicated public servant and experienced target of various government affairs strategies.  Senator Wentworth is Chair of the Jurisprudence and active, on behalf of the State of Texas, in numerous multi-state legislative organizations.

Notes from speaker remarks:

  • In government affairs, honesty is paramount, a bipartisan approach is critical, and a good lobbyist is always knowledgeable on the topic of advocacy.
  • The U.S. Congress versus the Texas Legislature is a comparison of partisan dysfunction versus bipartisan function.  Specifically, the bipartisan make-up of committee chairs in the Texas Legislature limits the need for total change in committee leadership if/when there is a change in majority party.
  • The Texas Legislature functions with a bipartisan spirit except on the topic of redistricting.
  • Redistricting can “blow-up” a legislative session; this is a consideration when assessing the political landscape.
  • Redistricting is the area where incumbent protection and partisanship have extraordinary impact.
  • Honesty in government affairs and lobbying is more than telling the truth; it is a commitment to clear communication; the lobbyist needs to be consistent and the message must be designed so that it can be consistently heard and understood in the same way.
  • Qualifications for a government affairs professional/lobbyist can/should include a law degree and experience working in government.
  • When communicating with elected officials, email is an option and is a good path; however, email volume for most elected officials requires screening by staff.
  • In contacting elected officials, letter writing is effective; a state senate district in Texas has a population of 700,000, and eight or ten letters on a topic will make a difference with a Texas Senator.
  • If a topic is represented as a “local” issue, the remainder of the Texas Senate is likely to respect the wishes of the local delegation (regardless of the policy implications).
  • When developing or reviewing a government affairs strategy, it is important to consider: Who do you need to talk to?  The Governor? The Senate or House Author? Who should be the person to send the message? What visuals can support the message?  How can the media be used to energize the base of support or opposition?

Lecture covering topics of this week
Political Landscape of Texas Today (Chapter 1 Keith and Haag)
How does someone become a lobbyist? James Jonas vs. Buddy Jones
Types of Lobbyists
-Hired Gun
-In House
-Subject Matter Expert
Role of Media in lobbying
– Getting a story in the paper
– Paying for help
– Getting an editorial
– Selecting your outlet
– Using blogs
Discussion on Indian Gaming – without metrics, there can be problems in pricing
GTECH and Ben Barnes – without metrics, there can be optics that are problematic
Shifting trends that will impact lobbying – economics, demographics, political ideologies

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