Congratulations on making the decision to run for office! Politics is a difficult—but rewarding—endeavor. With these seven steps, you can get your campaign off to a successful start.
Are you ready to run? Before you throw your hat into the ring, think hard about your decision to run. Talk to your spouse, family, friends, and key people in your community about whether or not to run. Be sure that you have their support and their commitment to help with your campaign. Make sure that you can take time off from work for your campaign; at the minimum you may need time off for debates and Election Day.
Fill key roles. Determine who will play a central role in your campaign. You need to line up a campaign manager, a treasurer, and a "kitchen cabinet" of advisers. You’ll work most closely with your campaign manager to develop your campaign strategy and to execute this plan. (A word to the wise: Your spouse will most likely NOT make for a good campaign manager.) Your treasurer will handle the financial parts of your campaign. Although a background in accounting could be helpful, it’s not necessary. A good attention to detail will suffice. Your kitchen cabinet will be the backbone of your campaign and will provide you with advice, funds, and volunteer efforts.
Clean up. Take care of any potential problems or worries that could hinder your campaign. Get your resume in order. Pay back taxes. Remove any potentially embarrassing content from social media accounts.
Why are you running? This may be the hardest question you’ll face in your campaign. The answer to this question sets the tone for the rest of your campaign messaging. Take the time to develop a cohesive answer and practice delivering it.
Write your campaign plan. This document will guide the rest of your campaign. You’ll need to decide what method(s) you’ll use to reach voters, your campaign budget, volunteers needs, and other strategic decisions. Your campaign plan can and should change during the course of the campaign, but it’s best to start out with a strong vision.
Research election laws and campaign finance rules in your jurisdiction. Make sure you know the law before you spend or solicit any money. Nothing can torpedo a political campaign like breaking the law.
Prepare a list of potential supporters. Start with the contacts saved in your phone and email accounts. Include friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, colleagues from recreational activities, parents of your children’s friends, businesses you shop at, and people on your holiday card list. Include potential donors, local politicians and former office holders, civic activists, and union leaders.