Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, provided his predictions for the 2012 elections, including the race for the White House. While he did not predict a winner for the 2012 Presidential race, he did say if unemployment is near 9 percent it will be difficult for President Obama to get re-elected. If unemployment is closer to 8 percent, Obama is likely to get re-elected, he said.
"People vote with their pocketbooks," he said. "If things are good or getting better in the economy the incumbent is more likely to win."
Cook also reviewed the pluses and minuses of the top-five potential Republican candidates for president. He forecast that Republicans would keep control of Congress in 2012 and could take the majority in the Senate.
David Regan, vice president of legislative affairs for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and ATD, moderated a panel session that discussed ways for truck dealers to get involved at the grass-roots level and communicate more effectively with their members of Congress. The panelists included Jim Hartman, ATD Kenworth Line Representative and a truck dealer in Virginia; Bobbi Sparrow, president of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association; and former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg.
"It's important for members of Congress to know that dealerships are powerful economic forces on Main Street which provide high-paying career opportunities and generate significant tax revenue," Regan said.
Shadegg stressed the importance of building personal relationships with elected officials. He said members of Congress welcome invitations to visit dealerships and meet with dealers and their employees.
A second panel, which included Doug Greenhaus and Paul Metrey from NADA's regulatory affairs office, and Patrick Calpin and Regan from NADA's legislative affairs office, highlighted advocacy efforts on behalf of ATD before Congress and federal regulatory agencies.