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Thinking About Running for Office?

If you are on the fence about running for office, you need to ask yourself a series of tough questions to determine whether you are ready for what’s ahead, both on the campaign trail and in office if you win.

To run or not to run. That’s the question.

There are over half a million elected offices across the nation spanning federal, state, and local levels.

What made all of those people decide to run for office?

What is your motivation for running today?

In our 25 years of experience, the Majority Strategies team has helped over 7,500 campaigns and clients, including candidates at all levels of government.

We know what it takes to run. We know what it takes to win.

If you are on the fence about running for office, you need to ask yourself a series of tough questions to determine whether you are ready for what’s ahead, both on the campaign trail and in office if you win.

We’re going to focus on a few of those questions now.

First, do you want the job?
Whether dog catcher, state senator, or state treasurer, you are running for a job with responsibilities and expectations.

Are you passionate about a particular issue? Will this office allow you to affect change on that issue?

Have you run for office before and are now thinking about running for higher office? What is your real focus?

Do you have the time?
Campaigns will always take more than you thought and keep you busy for longer than you wanted.

Running for office is akin to taking on a full-time job, one you could have for 12-18 months ahead of Election Day.

What does your calendar look like?

What are you willing to sacrifice to make room for your campaign?

Are you prepared for the scrutiny?
Start with a quick search of your name online. What comes up?

Take a look at what you’ve put out on social media, including comments you’ve made, pages you’ve liked, groups you’ve joined, and content you’ve shared. What story does all of that tell?

Are you involved in any open lawsuits? Do you have any tax problems?

Are you ready for everyone to judge you on all your past transgressions?

Can you articulate your beliefs well to others?
As a candidate for office, expect many opportunities for public speaking. That may make some people very uncomfortable. For others, they will relish the chance to speak to voters, whether individually or in large numbers. That includes the media.

How comfortable of a public speaker are you?

Are you charismatic? Can you engage an audience?

Can you tell a good story?

Equally as important, can you listen? People tend to listen better after they’ve been listened to.

Can you raise money?
Campaigns cost money. Advertising and media exposure are impossible without funds.

A state senate race in California may cost upwards of $1 million. A state representative race in North Carolina may be closer to $250,000. A city council race in a small city may be less than $15,000. Running for mayor in a city like Chicago? You will need millions.

One of the best exercises is to ask 10 family and friends for a donation. Five will say “yes,” but three of them will never make the donation.

That’s the challenge you face. Please, do not go into debt or mortgage your house.

Are you prepared to win?
Have you thought through the commitment you are making if you win office?

Will you have a commute?

How much flexibility do you have with your current job? Will your current employer be flexible with your new public role?

Many newly-elected officials think the campaign ends on Election Day. Are you ready to start running for re-election as soon as you win?

Are you prepared to lose?
There are no guarantees. You may not win.

Are you ready for that?

Are you prepared to thank family, friends, volunteers, and supporters for all of their help when you still came up short?

Are you prepared for the repercussions of negative things people will say about you, whether true or false?

Are you prepared to move on … or run again?

These questions are the tip of the iceberg.

Download our guide, “How to Decide if You Are Ready to Run for Office” to take you through some important conversations with family and friends as you decide whether or not to run for office.

A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Senior National Strategist Chris Faulkner has been involved in Republican politics since the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, where he contributed to the “72 Hour Task Force” that revolutionized the way Republicans approached Get-Out-The-Vote activities. Chris and his wife founded the Campaign Victory School at the Republican National Committee in 2005 to focus on bringing more analytics to the planning and execution of GOTV programs. Today, Chris is nationally recognized as an expert in voter targeting and grassroots mobilization.