The important part of politics is to get involved

David Pieper
Mutual of Omaha – Caledonia

My wife Elizabeth and I were born in Janesville, Wis., which was not very important to anyone until the week Paul  Ryan was picked to be a vice presidential candidate by Mitt Romney.

My wife and her siblings (Kate and Jennifer) graduated from high school with Ryan and his siblings. Our parent’s taught high school in Janesville. My brother-in-law (Andy Speth) who I own my Mutual of Omaha office building with in Caledonia, has been Paul Ryan’s chief of staff for the last 14 years. My younger brother, Michael Pieper, who some of you know is a VP at Western College in La Crosse, ended up marrying my wife’s younger sister, Jennifer.

When Kate and Andy Speth notified us that Ryan was going to be picked to be the VP on the Romney ticket and there was going to be an announcement in Janesville and we could get VIP tickets, we were pretty excited.

We had to give secret service the names, birthdays and social security numbers for ourselves and our kids to get the tickets. It was expected to be Saturday evening after the morning announcement in Virginia on the battleship Wisconsin.

Kate was involved in some of the planning and, while Ryan’s kids were at her house, she helped sneak Ryan out of the back of his house unnoticed by the CNN van in front of his house prior to the announcement.  Her husband was busy writing the speech for Ryan and planning for the announcement in Virginia.

The number of RSVPs rolled in so fast the event had to be moved to a larger facility at the Expo Center in Waukesha, Wis., which holds 5,000. By late Saturday they had 12,000 RSVPs and had to move it outside of the Expo Center and change the date to Sunday.

My wife and I and our five kids packed up Saturday afternoon and headed to Waukesha to meet up with the Speths and their four kids to congratulate them and to attend the rally. We had great seats.

To my surprise I hear “Dave” and see someone waving their hand at me. It was fellow agent Paul Thomas of the Milwaukee office with his wife and four kids.

During Scott Walker’s speech it dawned on us that we could be in the presence of three future presidents: Walker, Ryan and Romney.

I have recently become more involved in politics and spent an afternoon introducing Allen Quist, who is running for a U.S. House seat in my district, to Houston County residents at our county fair.  I have also attended the last two Minnesota State Republican conventions.

What I have learned in the process is the importance of talking to these candidates about our occupations. I own and operate a 300 acre farm, my wife operates a 1910 Sears House on our farm as “Betsy’s Bed & Breakfast” and I am obviously in the insurance and investment industry. I talk to all new candidates about all three industries. I talk to Democrats, Republicans and Independents about issues that relate to all three industries.

I am not in favor of the State of Minnesota telling me, Mutual of Omaha and Pacific Life when and where I need training to sell variable annuity products.

Minnesota’s Governor Dayton just vetoed a bill that would have required me to do some state-specific training to sell variable annuities. My belief is that Mutual of Omaha and Pacific Life are great companies and they can decide all by themselves what training I need without government involvement.

Why am I telling you this?  I want you to get involved and talk to some of your legislators.

Read your local paper, and when someone is running for office and has a rally at the diner across the street, go meet them and talk about your business.

Go to your neighborhood caucus and participate in the election process.

Early in the process many of these events will only have a couple dozen people at them. The worst that can happen is you will pick up a few clients and maybe influence some legislation.  If you’re lucky some of them will become friends and you may get invited to an inauguration.

See you there!


David Pieper co-owns the Mutual of Omaha office in Caledonia.