So you have decided to take the plunge and place yourself in the public world as a candidate for office. There are a few things you need to do before you head down to your government office to file for candidacy and hit the trail.
Write Down Your Plan
It goes without saying that any successful venture is first written down. If you are considering throwing your hat into the political arena, a written plan of what you are aiming to do is necessary. This places your team on the same page and keeps you centered on your goals.
Your plan needs to include your mission of why you are running, your fundraising goals, who key players are going to be in your campaign team, your target market, analysis of your opposition, and a general road map of the campaign. A campaign without a plan is a campaign that will not win.
Gather Your Team
Many candidates in their first runs decide they are going to try on their own. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a candidate. There are so many moving parts to a campaign, and your focus needs to be on making sure you are providing a message to get elected. There is a reason you chose to run, you need to be focused on that.
The most essential person you need is a campaign manager. If there is no other person you take on as part of your organization, you need someone as your right hand man/woman to keep you centered on your message, help get events booked, and get people involved.
Another person to definitely consider having is a fundraiser. Whether you have your spouse helping you with this or you can afford a professional fundraiser, having someone assist you in raising funds is going to go a long way in your campaign.
Study Your Opponent
The person you are running against is going to likely have a track record, especially if you choose to go against an incumbent. You need to be as familiar with their record as they are. This is no different than watching the plays an opposing football team makes. You should be watching their news interviews, their debate performances, and study their voting record.
You need to know them as well as you know yourself. Don’t be surprised or caught off guard. Look at advertisements they put out against opponents, and understand the biggest thing about this advice: they are doing the same thing to you.
Ask for Money and Support
Once you know you are going to run, you need to get with your close friends and family and ask them for support and money. This is one of the hardest thing for those who don’t have much experience running for office. It can be uncomfortable to ask people for money, but in today’s political world, you have to pay in order to get into the arena.
One of the best things you can do is host a get together, where you announce your intentions for office. Let them know why you chose to run, then ask them to donate. This is going to give you some the start up money to be able to pay for filing fees, get those first flyers printed, and get a few yard signs out there.
Find Out the Reporting Requirements
There are several state and federal laws that will apply to your campaign. It is important that you understand the different disclosures and reports that must be filed before you even start your campaign. One of the biggest things that will get you excluded from the ballot is forgetting to file a required report.
If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your State Party Executive Committee. They have many of the same reporting requirements and they can get you in touch with former candidates who have experience. You don’t want to kill your campaign because of something you weren’t aware needed to be filed, so make sure to cover your bases.