Creating A Winning Legislative Campaign: The Colorado Story

Colorado’s passage of SB191, the Centennial
State’s groundbreaking teacher quality and accountability legislation, was even
more impressive because it happened during an election year, and was passed by
a Democratic legislature and signed by a Democratic governor. For those who scratch
their heads about how this came about, have a look at this fascinating Democrats
for Education Reform brief. In it, Scott Laband, a key legislative aide as the
bill made its way through the statehouse, identifies the strategic steps taken
to pass SB191: find strong and credible leadership, get the policy right, build
a powerful coalition, coordinate broad-based advocacy, and control the message.
Within each of these five broad steps, Laband details specific actions calculated
to boost the odds of victory. Some are straightforward (e.g., identify a smart
education-policy expert). But others are so smart they almost feel like
political insider trading. For instance: Interlock the bill’s critical
provisions so tightly that none can easily be amended out. Or: Rotate political
cover, allowing some sponsors to vote with their party bloc on certain
amendments sure to pass. The brief ends with a sample press release, editorial,
fact sheet, and bill language—all geared to helping buttress future
education-reform legislation. A must-read for politicos and policy wonks alike.

Scott Laband, “Creating A Winning
Legislative Campaign: The Colorado Story
” (Washington, D.C.: Democrats for
Education Reform, March 2011).