If you’re considering running for elected office, now is the best time to get your ducks in a row. But before you make your big announcement on Facebook live, I’d encourage you to honestly assess where you are, what your goals are, and why others should help you achieve those benchmarks.
Before I take on any clients, I ask candidates a bevy of important questions. Whether you’re running for local school board or United States Congress, there are several basic inquiries you must chew upon. The answers you will discover in this Socratic process may shake your core, however the level of critical thinking sparked may prove to be equally impactful in the long run.
Grab a cup of coffee. Find a quiet room. Honestly answer the questions below as you decide if public life is the best thing for your family.
Is there a realistic path to victory?
Given all the various factors at play in an election, minus your passion to represent the community, can you realistically win this seat? Are you running for the right reasons?
Your ability to garner enough votes to win likely will be influenced by the following:
Whether your record of service stands out more than your future opponents
Your name recognition
Your ability to enlist community influencers and advocates to endorse you publicly
Your ability to identify and activate your consistent base of supporters
Popularity of the incumbent
Skeletons in your closet
Your ability to develop and effectively articulate your platform
Your campaign consultant
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate?
Be honest people. If you can’t answer both questions right now, you aren’t ready to announce your candidacy. Whether you are great at fundraising or always late for community meetings, every candidate must be aware of who they are. Write down a list of your 5 positive characteristics and 5 negative characteristics as a candidate, before your local paper beats you to it.
Is your family fully supportive of this decision?
When you run for office, so does your partner, your children, your siblings, and your parents. Family support is the first step to take when seeking elected office. If your family is not happy with you running for office, then it diminishes your candidacy. It’s a huge time commitment to run for office, so your family has got to be very understanding of that. If they’re not, you’re not going to be able to give up enough of your personal time to run. Talk to your family early and often as you consider this life altering decision.
Have you spoken with trusted mentors?
To gain the best advice, you must speak with trusted confidants who have either run for office before or have worked as staff on a campaign. The first hand perspective they can offer is invaluable and often leads to you making a wise, calculated decision. Reach out to a mentor who fits the above criteria and discuss your future plans.
Are you ready to raise money?
It may be slightly difficult to raise $80 million like Beto O’Rourke, however asking supporters for money to fuel your campaign is vital to winning. Studies show Americans are now more likely to contribute to political candidates and parties than they were 20 years ago. The share of Americans donating to an individual running for public office has doubled, increasing from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016. If you aren’t comfortable asking friends and strangers for financial support, this may not be your calling. Get ahead of the game today by making a list of 100 persons who would surely support your candidacy financially.
Do you have a strong public profile?
If you don’t have a social media presence on Facebook or Twitter, then the answer is no. If you do have accounts on those platforms, however you rarely post anything related to subject matter expertise, uplifting the community, civic engagement, or politics in general, then your public profile is weak. If nobody recognizes you at the local holiday mixer, there’s definitely space to strengthen your public profile. Focus your energy on attending more events, shaking more hands, and building more coalitions.
I hope this was helpful to you and your family! Contact me today to schedule your 60 minute Campaign Strategy consultation. Happy Holidays!