6 Tasks to Complete BEFORE Running
There is one question we get asked all the time. This question is the source of most candidate anxiety at the early stages of wanting to run for office. It’s a relatively simple question to pose, but the answer to it is incredibly complex and branching.
How do I get started?
See? Simple question with a simple answer, right?
No. Not in the least.
There is no cookie cutter answer or one-liner to encapsulate the many layers of a political campaign. Lots of unique factors govern HOW and WHEN you get started. And laws too, don't forget those.
There are, however, certain tasks that have to be completed no matter what.
Here is a list of 6 tasks a candidate needs to tackle before getting started.
Speak to your significant other
You need buy-in from your family. The most important of them is your significant other. If they are dead set against you running, that will pose many issues down the road. Campaigning is a tough contact sport, and an unhappy home life will make it even tougher.
A skeptical significant other is a different animal than one who has drawn an unmoving line in the sand. We deal with those hurdles all the time and setting boundaries between the home and campaign life usually solves those issues. But you must be open and honest about these boundaries, not only with your partner but also with your professional campaign team as well.
Take a FULL inventory
No matter what level of office you are running for, you need to take an inventory of your life. This is a massive commitment of both time and finances. Keeping a schedule will solve most time-related problems, but if your home or work life is in major flux, you might want to get that in order before seeking office.
Remember, elections are every two years. You will get a shot at representing your community. Use this time to plan and stay engaged. Work with your professional campaign team to put together a plan.
Make a List, DON’T write an essay, of where you stand on the major policy issues of the day
We really mean it: NO ESSAYS. At this point, you and your team, just need the highlights. A fuller deep dive into policy, messaging points, and structure comes later. A foundation needs to be built on where you stand and where you may need to do more homework.
This isn’t the test portion. Most candidates have two or three major or minor issues where they care most about making a contribution. That’s a good starting point. But knowing where you might need to learn more, transportation policy, for example, is good to know as well.
Create a database of your Day One Supporters
Yes, your parents can go on this list. Friends. Family. Co-workers.
Anyone that you know will support you in the campaign goes on this list. It doesn’t matter how much time the individual can devote. We can find them something to do to be effective.
This database is one of the CRUCIAL pieces that make up the foundation of a campaign. Only one person can possibly put this list together, and that is YOU.
So break out the yellow legal pad and pen; this activity should take you a while.
Augment your Day One Supporter database with a list of possible donors
You are going to find that base level database building is a cornerstone of a campaign by the end of the election.
But we are talking about the beginning of the election and how you get a solid start.
Mailers, printed materials, and digital ads to name a few things are not free and cost money.
The MOST CRUCIAL piece of your campaign’s foundation is fundraising. You start your fundraising journey, again no matter the level of office you are after, with this list.
Your professional campaign team will help guide you with crafting this piece of the starting puzzle.
Bring professional campaign operatives on early
Why is this critical?
You want to start correctly. It is more expensive to clean up a campaign from a messy start, and, not only that, it severely hampers your chance of winning.
True professional operatives and consultants will point you in the direction of tried and true measures to set up a generally successful campaign apparatus.
Trying to do it yourself and going it alone bring steep learning curves, gambling with an endeavor you are putting a lot of time and treasure into.
These 6 tasks are by no means the only tasks that need to be completed before launching a campaign. They are some of the most fundamental and come into play very early on.
If you have any questions, just schedule a call with us. We’re always happy to engage with candidates and potential candidates.
Michael Shirley is a political consultant with Pinpoint Action with offices in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. He has held various roles in campaigns and national organizations from state director and campaign manager all the way down to field director. Michael has worked in states such as Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Iowa.