Michigan Farm Bureau’s third Academy for Political Leadership cohort was in the nation’s capital last week, working a two-day agenda with legislative representatives, commodity leaders, beltline insiders and American Farm Bureau Federation staff.
The D.C. trip was the final leg for the Academy’s third cohort: Nadene Berthiaume, Saginaw County; Maria Carlin, Shiawassee; Logan Crumbaugh, Gratiot; Loren King, St. Joseph; Brad Lubbers, Allegan; and Allan Robinette, Kent.
Day one started with a visit with Stu Sandler, political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who connected his work with Michigan and Farm Bureau and shared some of his 25 years’ experience working campaigns, including his take on what 2022 looks like so far.
Political law attorney Charlie Spies shared guidance for what candidates need to know about election law, and updated our people on the work of Citizens United. OnMessage pollster Wes Anderson pulled back the curtain on his trade and helped Academy members better understand polling accuracy.
More inside-the-beltway insights came from Steve Carey, whose Potomac Strategic Development lobbying group is based in D.C., and from Midland County native Kyle Varner, representing the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Day one ended with a dinner program with the chief executive and operating officers from the National Potato Council: Kam Quarles and Mike Wenkel, respectively. Wenkel is also a Michigan product (Arenac County) and MFB alum, previously heading up state-level membership efforts and serving members as regional representative in the Northeast and West-Central regions (Districts 10 and 7).
Day two featured contacts at American Farm Bureau Federation, starting with insights from staffers Cody Lyon, managing director of advocacy & political affairs; and Randy Dwyer and Tom Donnelly, directors of advocacy and grassroots development.
The final session featured Chris Towner, from the Committee for Responsible Budget, addressing current federal budget issues. Following a quick tour of the AFBF headquarters, Academy participants were off to the airport and back home to Michigan.
The D.C. visit wraps up the Academy’s for Political Leadership pandemic-adjusted 2021 schedule, including three sessions since June focused on campaign management, election law, fundraising and more.
MFB’s Academy for Political Leadership happens every other year in non-election years, and is designed for Farm Bureau members interested in politics and government. Some participants aspire to public office themselves or seek to learn how to support office holders, while others simply want to learn more about how government works. Contact your county Farm Bureau if you or someone you know is interested in taking part in a future class.