Here’s what I’ve learned–much from former congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth–about how citizens can best influence their Senator, short of raising big money for them, or calling them out in an op-ed from a major state newspaper:
- The best way to get your Senator’s attention is to call one of their state offices and express your opinion as a constituent.
- Calling a Senator’s state office is a bit better than calling their D.C. office because state offices are primarily set up to handle requests from state residents and therefore tend to be more available to take, and listen to, calls.
- Whether you call your Senator’s DC office, or one of their state offices, the staff will add a record of the conversation–noting your name, your town of residence, and the issue you raised–to a single consolidated list of ongoing constituent feedback for the Senator.
- Writing them letters, sending them e-mails, tweeting them, posting on their Facebook page, or signing an online petition to their attention is much less effective than calling because all of those methods are easily ignored, and tend to be dominated by non-resident activists, and impersonal messages.
- Communication that is from out-of-staters, impersonal, or anonymous, is largely dismissed.
Initial conversations with a few of Sen. Collins’ offices confirm this. So that’s the strategy we’re going with.