Are you ready to run? – 10 Questions to ask yourself

This initial module walks you through ten important questions to ask yourself as your consider whether you are ready to run for office.

Deciding to run for office- 10 questions to ask yourself.

  1. Why are you running?

The single most important factor in the success or failure of a political campaign is the campaign’s message.  In other words: why are you running? The most important factor in creating a strong message is: do you believe it yourself? Are you passionate about it?

If it doesn’t matter to you, it isn’t going to matter to anyone else. If this reason to run is connected to your life, your neighborhood, your district — it’s stronger. If it is a broadly shared concern in your community, stronger still. If it is a problem people believe you can solve, even stronger.

  1. Are you sure you want to do this?


Running for office is like launching a start up with no venture capital and running it in to IPO or bankruptcy in under a year.  It is one of the most rewarding and demanding things you will ever do.

Running for office is much more than offering barn burner speeches. You will need to:

  1. Ask other people for money.
  2. Recruit a team of people.
  3. Make decisions.
  4. Give up family and personal time.
  5. Doorbell

Most importantly running for office requires commitment to the race, your team and your supporters. You need to be sure, and if you are not, there is no shame in postponing until you are.

3.What is your elevator speech?

 If you are going to run for political office, you must be able to explain your reason for running in a few sentences. As a candidate for office you will be asked again and again why you are running, who you are, and what you will do when elected. Start mastering this important step right now. Write down in 250 words why you are running and what you want to accomplish. (Please keep it for the history books or the scrap book. It will be valuable to you and maybe others someday.)

  1. Will your family and your boss support you?

If your spouse or partner hates the idea, please don’t make yourselves miserable. If your kids are really young and you, and only you, can take care of them, it is okay to wait a few years. If your boss isn’t going to give you a little leeway and you need your job, get a new job or wait awhile until you launch your political career.

The point here is running is already hard; don’t make it impossible because you can’t give it the time it takes to run a successful political campaign. 

  1. Who do you know?

If you don’t know 100 people whom you think might help you, you might want to consider waiting to run until you do. Good political campaigns have good lists. You are already “campaigning” when you make this list, so take it very seriously. A legal pad is fine, but better to start with Excel and include basic fields—First Name, Last Name, Street Address, City, State, Zip, Cell Phone, Home Phone, Email Address, and a Notes field where you can write down how you know them.

Make a list of 10 people you can call and ask to donate $100 to your campaign. If you can not raise $1,000 in 10 phone calls, you might want to wait to run.

  1. Do you have enough time to succeed?

 The number one mistake candidates make, is starting their campaigns too late. People X Time x money = political capital.

It takes time to build your campaign infrastructure and recruit your steering committee. Then it takes time to reach the voters.  The more voters on your race, the long it will take. These are critical elements to a winning campaign and the more time you have, the better. 

Give yourself time to win by launching your campaign as early as possible, particularly if you are a first-time candidate.

  1. Have you been engaged in your community?

Make a list of any organizations or public service activities you have done.  Having a network to draw support from is great.  Being able to list this experience on your resume is great too.

  1. What are the issues of your race?

To be a good candidate, you need to know what you’re talking about. It is not good to be a single-issue candidate.  To be a good office holder, you need to know about a number of issues, and you need to know the office you are running for. Please don’t skip this step. If you are running for school board, attend four to five meetings.  Learn about the office you are running for. What are the issues? What are your positions on those issues?  Reach out to other office holders and ask them about the position and what the expectations are for the office.

If you can answer these questions with confidence, then you are ready to take the next step on the road to winning your race!

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