Happy New Year!
Welcome to a brand new election cycle. Even though the national media has already completely blown off the 2014 elections in favor of covering the eating habits of every potential 2016 presidential candidate in the country, here at GOP Campaigner we care more about who's running for town council. And with that in mind, I've decided to start the new year with a post that will hopefully get you focused on your goal for 2014 - winning your political campaign!
So what should you be doing right now?
1. Decide. I mean really decide. Get introspective, and deep, and truly determine whether you're ready for this monumental challenge. How to do this? Here are some questions you need to answer for yourself:
Why do I want to run for office?
Do I want to be mayor/city councilman/state representative because I really want the job? Or is it because I don't like how the incumbent does it now? (Hint: Running just to unseat a jerk is not a good reason!)
What do I want to accomplish in this elected position? What issues are important to me?
Is my family prepared for a run for office? Remember, it's not just your life that will be in upheaval. Your wife and children will definitely be affected, and will suffer if you don't prepare.
Finally, search your heart. Sit in silence in some peaceful, spiritual place, and just wait. Do you feel excited at the prospect of running a campaign, like you're starting a great adventure? Or do you feel apprehensive about your ability to handle the attention, the work, the upheaval?
Is your spouse on board? Because it's neverworth it if you don't have full spousal support.
2. Mentally prepare yourself for losing. Yes, you could lose. That's always a possibility, even in races that seem a sure bet. So make sure you're emotionally capable of handling a loss. Too many candidates put their whole self worth into the voters hands on election day and let me tell you, the voters do not care about your ego.
3. Consult the family. This is the time for scheduling out the important parts of your life so that later you can schedule campaigning around your family life, instead of the other way around. All too often soccer games and dance recitals and supporting your spouse's interests and hobbies are an afterthought, after you've already set up a campaign schedule that dominates your evenings and weekends. If you're in a stage of life where you're raising a growing family, they should always come first. Always. The voters will forget about you by December, whether you win or lose. Your kids will never forget that you missed their biggest events of the year.
4. Figure out your one big reason. When someone says, "Why are you running for county commissioner?" You should have a simple, heartfelt, one-sentence response that lines up with both your values and the community's needs. It needs to be genuine, not strategic. It needs to be specific, not vague. Make it universal and personal at the same time. You'll know it when you find it.
5. Paperwork. You'll have to go to the courthouse or voter registration office in your town (or county seat) and file documentation stating that you intend to run for elected office. You'll also have to open up a business bank account for your campaign. Now before you go running to the city building to sign up, you should know that it's not always in your best interest to file on the very first day. There are plenty of reasons you may want to wait and file as late as possible. Usually, however, just making sure you get the paperwork done in a timely manner is good enough. This is the first official step you'll take as a candidate for elected office.
That's pretty much it for now. Don't worry about talking to voters, getting the media's attention, or pulling your campaign team together for recurring meetings. It's way too early for that. Enjoy the rest of January, because when spring rolls around, the crazy starts, and it only grows from there until you're barreling into November at break-neck speeds. Now is the time for a calm, peaceful, family-filled start to the new year.
Image Credit: fox8photos via Flickr