So you want to run for office...
It's easy to feel like campaigns are a complete enigma before you run for office. They're not, but if you don't start out by answering the right questions, you can soon find yourself being sucked into a black hole. It takes considerable thought, consultation and prayer to decide whether you should run for office. The good thing is that My Campaign Coach provides resources to help guide you through that process.
Disclaimer: Take your time and be honest with yourself
Don't cheat yourself by only giving these questions a passing glance! Running for office isn't something you undertake on a whim. Do yourself a favor and take some focused time for the task at hand. Block off an hour with no distractions to sit down and write. Remember that you're not trying to win an essay contest or get a Pulitzer. Capture your raw, unfiltered thoughts in this first exercise.
You will edit and refine the answers to these questions later in your exploratory period. For now, just grab a pad of paper, your favorite pen and drink of choice. It's time to get your thoughts on paper!
Start by answering the Three Whys
- Why Me?
- Why Now?
- Why This?
Talking to the media, pitching a donor, recruiting a volunteer or persuading a voter; these are fundamental questions you NEED to answer. Clear, concise responses are the best way to communicate your fitness for office and capture their support!
1. Why am I the right person for this job?
What makes YOU better for this job than the current officeholder or another candidate for this seat? Honestly assess your skills, convictions, attributes, background and relationships. Write down anything that might impact, positively or negatively, your qualification for office. What is it about you and your run for office that should motivate supporters?
2. Why is this the right time to run for office?
Communicate the reason NOW is the time for you to run for office. "Why You" is about outlining to voters your personal convictions and qualifications but "Why Now" is where you describe the internal and external reasons that make this the moment for your candidacy. Internal reasons are why it's currently on your mind while external describe what voters are going to get out of the deal. Why should they elect you?
3. Why is THIS job right for me?
A City Councilman's job is different than being a State Representative and that role is dissimilar in many ways from being a Congressman. One office will likely stand out as where you can most effectively promote your agenda, based on your background and the issues you are most passionate about. Tell voters why you're specifically qualified and called to run for the office you seek.
4. Do I have the time to run for office?
Campaigning takes time and you need to know you can make the right time commitment before you launch. It's like taking on another job. Perhaps not a full-time one, but a run for office is going to occupy a significant amount of your time. Inventory how you spend your week and where you're willing to make cuts to be a candidate. Consider how much time is needed to effectively run and make sure you're not going to over-draft yourself, just like with a personal budget.
5. Can I raise the money?
Money is the mother's milk of politics, whether you like it or not. Some campaigns cost a little, others cost a lot, but all campaigns have a cost. You have to raise and spend money, whether you're running a low budget city council race or a media-centric Congressional campaign.
Build a clear idea of how much money you are personally willing and able to invest in your campaign. Estimate how much your friends and family can contribute to the cause. All remaining funds must be raised from donors beyond your current network.
6. What does this job require?
People generally know what a Congressman or City Councilman does, but the devil is in the details. You wouldn't accept a job without knowing the job description, so don't run for office without knowing what voters will be trusting you with once you're elected! Study the role and responsibilities carefully so you won't be surprised.
7. Is my Spouse on board?
Disregard this advice at your own peril: If the person that is closest to you isn't wholly on board with a run for office (either because they don't think you're right for the job or they don't think it's a good idea for your family), then you're not ready to run.
Absent a spouse, the opinions of your immediate family should be considered. Lack of enthusiastic support from your family isn't as bad as with your spouse, but should still be given considerable weight.
Bonus: Am I prepared for a campaign?
Answer these questions well and you'll be miles ahead of nearly everyone else exploring a run for office. However, answering seven questions isn't going to give you a guarantee of success.
Take advantage of the Coaching and Courses, Resources and Podcasts from My Campaign Coach as your next steps!
Our team has trained hundreds of candidates and thousands of activists in how to win elections and we want to use that experience to help you. We are here to help you learn how to run an effective, efficient campaign and show you how to turn the rough-hewn answers to these questions into a clear message to guide your candidacy.
Schedule your FREE 30 minute coaching consultation call today and find out how we can help you run for office and win!
[…] I recommend candidates start by answering the 3 Whys: […]