“There is no silver bullet.”
My wife says that sentence a lot. It’s true in so many aspects of life. There is no secret that makes things just magically happen. There is no substitute for doing good, smart, and hard work. Running for office is no different. If you are going to win as a first-time candidate running for office, you’re going to have to do the good, smart, and hard work. Without it, you’ll never win.
I’ve worked with scores of candidates running for office, and I’ve observed that all of them who went on to win their races have the following things in common:
When you start to tell family and friends that you’re thinking about running for office, you’re going to undoubtedly have people say to you, “You don’t want to do that. Politicians are sleazy. Politics is going to change you.” The fear that your loved ones have is based on the reality that so many people involved in politics are seemingly willing to compromise their integrity and ethics to win.
I’m assuming you’re a person of high integrity and impeccable ethics. Stay that way.
Voters respond to people they can believe in, people in whom they see themselves, people who understand the challenges that have motivated you to run in the first place. Don’t sacrifice that for any reason. Voters want authenticity in their leaders. Be your authentic self. Don’t pander for votes. Don’t tell people what you think they want to hear. Be honest. Be true to yourself. Authenticity has a magnetic force all its own that will draw voters to you.
Fundraising, Seriously Fundraise
Running a successful campaign requires money. There is no way around it. In our current system, no matter what office you’re seeking, you’re going to need to raise enough money to pay some staff, send out some mailers, buy tools to run your campaign, and more. Unless you can self-finance your campaign (which most of us can’t), that means fundraising.
Effective fundraising takes believing in yourself. You can make a difference in the lives of the people you want to represent. Donors who can sense that you believe in yourself will believe in you too.
Effective fundraising takes courage. It’s not easy to ask people for money. Most of us are not comfortable doing it. Running for office is a hard thing. You’ve tapped into your reserve of personal courage to even consider doing it. You’re going to need to keep tapping into that courage when you fundraise.
Effective fundraising takes consistency. Successful candidates set aside time every week - or even better, every day - to make fundraising calls. Put it on your calendar and don’t let anything interrupt that time. You must keep doing it day after day. Even small donations will add up if you keep at it consistently.
Out-Organize Your Opponent
In 2018, a first-time candidate stunned the political world by beating a powerful, well-funded incumbent in a Congressional primary. She’s super famous now, but when she won her race, very few people had heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Whether you’re aligned with her politics or not, you can learn from what she did. In 2017, AOC said prophetically, “We may not be able to out-spend our opponents, but we can out-organize them.” She was exactly right.
A well-organized campaign can make all the difference between a victory and a defeat. To be successful, you’re going to need an organized team, organized volunteers, organized fundraising and spending, and organized voter outreach. If you’re a first-time candidate, you might not know where to start. That’s why I’ve put together an online course that will walk you through, step-by-step, how to run for office. It is going to launch soon. When it does, you’ll want to be the first to know.
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