Written By: Madison Forker
On February 20th, I and two other ESA sisters were lucky enough to attend Politico’s Fifth Annual State Solutions Conference, which was hosted in DC’s downtown Microsoft Office. The yearly event hosts interviews with variety of governors from around the country, with this year’s speakers being Governor Bill Haslam (R), Governor Rick Scott of Florida (R), Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (D), and Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (D).
Given that the all-day event started at 8am, we were happy to arrive and find breakfast awaiting us. Armed with bagels and coffee, we settled in to hear from the Republican half of the governors, Bill Haslam and Rick Scott. While there were certain topics that were discussed with each participant throughout the day (use of the Common Core, job creation, higher education), the hot topic with both Republican governors was who would be running for the Republican nomination in 2016, and if it would be a governor or former governor. Both governors were highly enthusiastic about the possibility, noting potential candidates like Jeb Bush (former FL governor), Chris Christie (NJ governor), and Scott Walker (WI governor). Haslam, being the RGA Chairman, made clear that he’d be pulling for any governor to run, and would encourage it throughout his time in the position.
After lunch (more free food!), it was time to hear from the Democrats. Newly elected Governor Gina Raimondo, as the only woman speaking at the event, had much positive encouragement for any woman looking to be in politics or just to be a leader in their field. Almost every day, she said, she receives letters from young girls telling her that she’s inspired them to become a leader, and that responses like that are one of the big reasons she ran for office in the first place. Last up was Terry McAuliffe, who before being governor was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Naturally, he received quite a few questions about Clinton’s potential bid for the 2016 nomination. McAuliffe said he would obviously support Hillary should she decide to run, but gave no indication as to whether the decision had been made yet (sorry, folks!).
Overall, the State Solutions Conference was a fantastic event to go to, and one that I would highly recommend in the future. Having never been to a Politico event before, I had no clue what I was getting into, but I was thrilled with the result. Most importantly, this event reminded me of why I am so lucky to live and learn in Washington, D.C., and of all of the opportunities available to us in this amazing city.