January is typically viewed as a new beginning. But with 2014 being an election year, January marks the halfway point in a 2-year election cycle for the American Nurses Association (ANA). This means the ANA Political Action Committee (ANA-PAC) is in the midst of its giving cycle and endorsement process for candidates who support nursing issues. ANA strives to get the best nurse advocates elected to Congress and then works to ensure that they stay in office.
ANA-PAC is a key element of ANA’s advocacy efforts in Congress. Through ANA-PAC, we build relationships and provide bipartisan support for pro-nursing legislators. In addition to increasing nursing’s visibility in the political arena, ANA-PAC demonstrates to policymakers that we are serious about our issues.
While many ANA members may be aware of ANA-PAC, the facets of the endorsement process may be less well understood. The ANA Government Affairs team works to educate and influence candidates running for federal office. ANA’s endorsement process is thorough and allows ANA to vet candidates to ensure we are helping to elect nurse champions.
There are five main steps ANA follows with every candidate under consideration:
1. Candidate identification and information gathering. Candidates typically approach ANA for endorsement. We work closely with our constituent and state nurses associations (C/SNAs) to gather information and insight on the candidate.
2. Preparing endorsement rationale. Each candidate is required to fill out a questionnaire and complete an interview with an ANA senior political action specialist. We also closely review campaign polling and fundraising information, and track the race in trade publications and newspapers.
3. ANA-PAC board consideration. The ANA-PAC Board of Trustees reviews all relevant information and determines which candidates will be endorsed. Each endorsement is accompanied by a recommendation for a specific level of financial support (if any). Financial recommendations remain confidential and for internal use only.
4. Final C/SNA approval and candidate notification. Endorsements are made as a partnership. C/SNAs may not endorse federal candidates, and ANA-PAC may not make an endorsement without C/SNA approval. Each C/SNA has a different process for working collaboratively with ANA on the endorsement process. Consistency with regard to each candidate is important. As well, expediency is necessary because of the fluid, dynamic, and often unpredictable nature of campaigns. ANA’s senior political action specialists remain in frequent contact with C/SNAs through the process.
5. Candidate support. ANA-PAC can support endorsed candidates with financial contributions up to $10,000, using ANA’s name in campaign materials or through ANA advocacy and Get-Out-The-Vote activities.
ANA has an extensive candidate endorsement process, resulting in a successful record of 85 out of 110 candidates being elected to Congress in the last congressional election cycle. Once in office, the real work begins as ANA continues to foster relationships with elected officials and educate them on nursing issues. Many members of Congress will remember when ANA stood by them before they had “Honorable” before their name. This speaks to the power of early endorsement.
The dedication and commitment of ANA-PAC donors are essential to electing candidates who support nurses, ensuring that “When nurses talk, Washington listens.” To our loyal ANA members, we ask you to consider making a donation today. To make a donation, send a contribution to:
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Or donate online at www.anapac.org.
Special thanks to ANA-PAC board members: Devyn Denton, RN, chair; Faith Jones, MS, RN, NEA-BC, vice chair; Sylvia Weber, MS, RN, CNS, secretary; Jan Polizzi, MS, BSN, RN, treasurer; Thomas Ray Coe, PhD, MBA, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE; Mary Cisco, MSN, RN, FNE; Sallie Eissler, MSN, CPNP, RN; Sara McCumber MS, RN, CNP, CNS; Shirley Morrison, PhD, OCN, RN; Gayle M. Peterson RN-BC; and Patricia Travis, RN, PhD, CCRP.
Elizabeth Heavener is a senior political action specialist in Government Affairs at ANA.