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American Dental Political Action Committee campaign school

September 02, 2013

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—Three ADA dentists found “insight” and “valuable experience” and described ADPAC's Aug. 9-10 campaign school as “an outstanding event and lots of fun.”

Two ADA dentists took “an important first step in their journey to successful political campaigns” for Congress and state legislature by participating in previous ADPAC campaign schools.

The American Dental Political Action Committee co-hosts annual Specialty Physician & Dentist Candidate Workshops on the nuts and bolts of political campaigns—organizing, messaging and polling among them—and plans to offer another in 2014.

The ADA News invited comments from the three dentist participants in the 2013 campaign school.

Dr. Butler
Dr. Robert E. Butler: As incoming 6th district representative to ADPAC, I thought it would be a valuable experience to see firsthand what our legislators have to deal with in considering whether to run for public office. I have had a long interest in politics and public policy as it affects so many aspects of our daily practice of dentistry.

The ability to network with other medical professionals this year provided me with the insight that we have much more in common with our medical colleagues than what most ADA members might think.

I would strongly encourage participation by any ADA members who have an interest in public service or want to understand what is required of someone seeking public office and how they can assist that individual in a successful campaign. For the past 10 years, I have served as an action team leader to a member of Congress from the metropolitan St. Louis area.

This year, I was fortunate to address the ADA Washington Leadership Conference on How to Be Politically Aware and Connected. I currently serve as Speaker of the House for the Missouri Dental Association and as co-chair of the Missouri state PAC.

Dr. Hagenbruch
Dr. Joseph F. Hagenbruch, ADA District 8 Trustee: I appreciate the opportunity. I thought that the campaign school was certainly a valuable experience.

It definitely provided me with a whole new appreciation for the crucial necessity to encourage more dentists and dental specialists to seek election for public service as state and national legislators, as well as to increase the support for those individuals like Drs. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Dennis Zent, Indiana legislature, and others who are already serving. Learning of the myriad complexities of the election and campaign processes was a huge exercise, an intense enlightenment. Indeed, the criticality of proper timing, the sensitivity and creativity of campaign advertisements and the financial demands of conducting a campaign for public office scarcely scratch the surface relative to the seemingly countless examples of astounding challenges. However, the vast number of probable regulatory improvements to be made and the potential rewards for genuine perseverance to achieve better policies for the nation, the public we serve and health care in general appear to trump the adversities.

Dr. McGinty
Dr. Charles C. McGinty, ADPAC treasurer: ADPAC sponsors a campaign school to help fellow dentists learn what it takes to run and win a political campaign.

This year's workshop was an outstanding event and a lot of fun. We need more dentists in the U.S. Congress and state houses. Two recent campaign school success stories come to mind, Dr. Paul Gosar, a congressman from Arizona, and Dr. Denny Zent, a state representative in Indiana. ADPAC's campaign school was an important first step in their successful campaigns.

All successful campaigns need a victory plan, usually run by a paid campaign manager.

In many districts the real race is the primary election and the campaign needs to be focused on primary voters. The message must be simple, direct and easy to understand.

To convey this message and build excitement, an excited and committed grassroots network of volunteers is needed. All this campaign fun costs a lot of money and candidates for Congress must engage daily in fundraising.

The media experts were great. They really enjoy making the other candidate look bad and their candidate look all red, white and blue.

Be nice to the press. The candidate needs them and they need the candidate.