Occasionally someone on the campaign trail will say, “Don’t tell me about the other guy. What do you want to do if you’re elected?”
If you’ve ever said that to a politician, this is for you.
On my first day I’ll get up real early, with a smart haircut and shined shoes. I’ll show up to whatever office I’ve been assigned and spend little time there. With a staffer in tow, I’ll have simple objectives in the first days: learn names, faces and what they like to do. My mind will have already begun mapping the matrix of people systems that work in Washington, D.C., as well as connecting familiar Montanans I already know have similar interests.
I’ll have early staff meetings that never last more than an hour. I’ll empower and give my legislative staffers a few days to work on my committee assignments, so that within a week they can brief me on expectations and opportunities within those committees. If I have a say, I’d like to be on House Natural Resources, Financial Services and Foreign Affairs. But I will grow wherever planted.
Within two weeks I will know my daily and weekly schedules and paths. I will know how my nutrition, exercise and family balance fit into our schedule. I will not have made the news, as I will have been characteristically quiet and thoughtful, but I will have ascertained the key people associated with my committees and party who will be allies in my goals for serving Montana in the United States Congress. On the day I’m sworn in, I will be miles down the road from my peers.
While the nation is waiting for the State of the Union, I will already be bucking the system by drafting legislation for my committee work. Old-timers will be patient with me and explain that freshmen don’t draft bills, and I will do it anyway. There are things to fix everywhere in our government and if I’m only given 730 days I want to start quickly. Where there are opportunities to downsize or decentralize the power of our federal government, I will be especially interested. I will walk through the city, the government buildings, and get to know civil servants on the deck-plates. What they know will be invaluable to my success, and building trust and respect with them will be a cornerstone of my tenure.
I’ll seek smart people from both parties. I’ll vote conservatively. And at some point there will be an opportunity to take a high-profile risk. And I will take it. And you will begin to know and understand your new congressman as the media chooses to report. Whether they are accurate or not, you’ll not hear me complain or care. I won’t work for endorsements or special interests, and my legislation will never be superficial.
I hope to make a positive difference for our state and country if I’m given two years in Washington. That’s what I want to do if I’m your congressman.
Corey Stapleton is a Naval Academy graduate and former state senator from Billings. He is a Republican candidate for the United States House of Congress.