Toolkit: Getting to know candidates and new Members of Congress

Many people are asking us how they can effectively engage with policymakers around the upcoming election. Here are a few ways to start building this important relationship now:

Before the election:

  • Do a little research into their position/issues before meeting with them—see the AGU Toolkit on meeting your member of Congress for detailed instructions.
  • Try to meet, call, or email the candidates running for office—often they want to meet as many potential constituents as possible during their campaign, so this can be a great opportunity.
  • Don’t feel deterred if they have a very busy schedule and might not be able to meet one-on-one with you, there are other options like writing an email—look for a contact form on their campaign website.
  • Attend local events or town halls to get some face time with the candidates—this is one of the best ways to get facetime with candidates, and information is usually on their campaign website.
  • You can focus on federal elections (they will be in the district often to campaign), local and state elections, or all of them—and meet with candidates from as many political parties as possible.
  • Remember that even if they don’t win this time, you will still help share great science information.

After the election:

  • Try to meet with new policymakers soon after they take office—the first few weeks or months are ideal.
  • New offices are often looking for experts and assistance on many issue areas as they build up their stance on issues.
  • If you meet with them early and continue to help them over time, they will see you as a resource.
  • Don’t be put off if they don’t yet have someone on staff to handle science issues—it may take months for them to build up their staff capacity.
  • Meet with whoever you can to begin and continue to build relationships with new staff as they come. Use our toolkits to figure out your ask, message, and more.

Do you have questions?

  • Do you want to learn how to set up or have effective meetings? Check out our series of toolkits for all this information and more.
  • Join our upcoming post-election webinar with more information on election outcomes and meeting with new offices. We are happy to answer your questions about building these important relationships.