In November 2014, U.S. politicians will be playing a game of musical chairs, with 471 chairs to be exact. The midterm election leaves 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 36 seats in the U.S. Senate up for grabs. Other mayoral, state and local elections will bring voters across the nation to the polls as well.
In true TFAS alumni fashion, our active community can be found working, volunteering and making an impact in different ways leading up to November. We recently spoke with several alumni who are involved in the final push heading into this exciting election.
Alumna Erin Veltman (IBGA 07) called this year’s elections especially competitive. Veltman is the executive director of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee. She manages legislative efforts at the state level, and raises money to help elect more Republicans to state legislative office.
“The Republican Party has had the most success in the last several election cycles at the state level,” Veltman said. “From a policy making standpoint that is the place where most of the work is being done, whereas there is a significant amount of gridlock in D.C. on Capitol Hill.”
Veltman said policy issues such as energy independence, education reform and health care are playing out at the state level.
“It’s really exciting to be part of an organization that is helping to elect more people who are doing this good work,” Veltman said.
Veltman isn’t the only alumna who has spent her career traveling the country on campaigns. Alumnus David Ray (ICPES 07) has been working on different campaigns since his TFAS program in 2007. This election finds him in Arkansas working as the communications director for Congressman Tom Cotton’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
“I’ve always been interested in the political process. Our government is one of the many things that makes America great and exceptional,” Ray said. “I also really enjoy the competitive nature of electoral politics as well as the fact that I’m helping candidates who can make a difference.”
In 2008, Ray received his first job offer from the National Republican Senatorial Committee after he interned with them as a TFAS student.
“TFAS teaches students appreciation for free markets and our system of government,” Ray said. “It also teaches professional and academic excellence. TFAS has programs that open doors for young people.”
While some alumni are busy working on one side or the other, Alumna Jessica Taylor (IPJ 05) is trying to capture the stories of candidates, public opinion and of course the numbers heading into November. Taylor is the campaign editor at The Hill, where she oversees campaign coverage for the 2014 midterms and impending 2016 election. She manages a team of reporters, writes a weekly column and is involved in the day-to-day planning of the outlet’s print edition and website.
“I love the adrenalin rush of covering a story that is important, and to see how it impacts the country,” Taylor said.
The 10-year political news veteran has worked at a number of D.C. publications, but recently she transitioned into an editor role due to her passion to work with younger reporters and help shape coverage.
“While I know it is easy to get burned out right now, I tell reporters that this is our Superbowl. This is what we train for,” Taylor said.
Although the first word that comes to Taylor’s mind when she thinks about the midterm elections is stress, she says the second word is excitement. She knew from her time as a student in the Institute on Political Journalism in 2005 that she was hooked on journalism.
“Right now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I feel very blessed to be in the position I’m in. I’m doing my dream job. IPJ absolutely gave me the first foot in the door and I wouldn’t be here without it,” Taylor said.
Don’t forget to head to the polls and cast your votes on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
“ON THE HORIZON: EXPLORING AMERICA’S POST-ELECTION LANDSCAPE”
2014 Leadership Conference in Naples, Florida
If you’d like to learn more from TFAS alumni working on the campaign trail, consider attending the 2014 Leadership Conference in Naples, Florida. Held just days after the midterm elections, the conference, entitled “On the Horizon: Exploring America’s Post-Election Landscape,” will feature insights from several alumni including Erin Veltman (IBGA 07), executive director of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee; Chris Wilson (ICPES 90), partner at WPA Opinion Research; Adam Waldeck (CSF 06), executive director of the American Legacy PAC; and Will Weatherford (IBGA 02), speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.