Political Pet Peeves: Don't start your political career by running for the United States Congress...
Edited on Tue Mar-17-09 12:36 AM by ddeclue
unless you are mega rich, a war hero, a rock star, a movie star or something.
I'm not saying you can't run for Congress someday but PLEASE start out at a more reasonable level and work your way up. That's what school boards, city councils, county commissions and water boards are for!
In the last three years or so I've had so many candidates that nobody's ever heard of and who've never participated in the party before come up to me and say:
I'm gonna run for Congress or I'm gonna run for State Senate, etc.
That would be OK if they had a long history of being active in the party and campaigns and knew something about actually running a campaign.
That would be OK if they had been elected to something somewhere before.
What's more annoying is that they usually want to do this in a district where the split is 65-35 Republican to Democrat and they've never done anything like this before at all.
These kamikaze candidates only serve to make the Republicans they run against look 10 feet tall and invincible because when they crash and burn on election day it is usually pretty spectacular.
Meanwhile somewhere in that Congressional District was a tiny little school board seat that that kamikaze Congressional candidate could have actually won but their ego wouldn't let them start out that small.
I had this happen again tonight.
If you want to run for office:
JOIN your DEC.
BE ACTIVE for a number of years.
WORK your precinct.
MEET people in the party and build a big network.
WORK on campaigns - learn how they actually work from someone who knows.
FIND OUT about the NUMBERS in your district - RESEARCH IT - How does it split by party? What is the demographic breakdown? What are the financial breakdowns of the district?
FIND OUT about your opponent(s) - learn their histories and issues.
FIND OUT about your district - what are the big issues to the voters? Don't go into your district and try to discuss mental health issues, animal rights, or the arts when what your voters really care about is the ECONOMY, the ECONOMY, and oh yeah THE ECONOMY.
DECIDE WHY YOU WANT TO RUN - what is your real motivation? Does it coincide with the motivations of the voters? Can you focus on the motivations of the voters first as a means to get elected so that you can also focus on a few of the issues that matter to you but don't matter to them later on?
FIGURE OUT HOW AND WHO WILL FUND YOUR CAMPAIGN - A school board race will cost you $10k to $50k, a county commission seat may cost $30k to $100k, a mayor's race in a mid size city may cost $200k to $1M, a state house race may cost $150k to $500k, a state senate race may cost $250k to $1M, a Congressional race may cost $1M to $5M, A Senate race may cost $10M to $30M, A Governor's race may cost $10M to $40M.
How will you raise that money?
LEARN ABOUT THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE IN YOUR DISTRICT - who are the players, what is the history?
LEARN HOW TO SPEAK PUBLICLY - don't hesitate, don't stutter, don't hmmm and uhh, don't be a stiff, don't sound like an undertaker - figure out how to be entertaining, funny, spontaneous and intelligent and thoughtful all at the same time.
LEARN THE ELECTIONS PROCEDURES AND LAWS - how to file, when to file, what you can do, what you must do, what you can't do, etc.
Amongst many other points I could make in this rant...
I am a county chair in a red county. I get so tired of using our resources to support some of these people. We just about have to do it, too. The state party won't help them, and it makes us look divided if we don't provide some assistance.
Local offices aren't just for learning the system. We need Democrats at all levels as a matter of course. It makes a huge difference in the philosophies, spending and taxing patterns if a county board has a majority of Democrats instead of a majority of republicans. That is true for planning commissions, school boards and other taxing bodies.
2. I agree with you that we need to win local offices for the reasons you outline..
there IS a synergy though for candidates who don't have the name recognition or cash to buy name recognition that they would need to win a Congressional seat or state senate seat and they need to be made to see that it is in everybody's interest if they start smaller.
I've kind of become a "go to" consultant guy in the last few years because I do voter database and because I've worked on so many campaigns and people come up to me and say this kind of stuff and I just have to bite my tongue when they do...
He is my son. He may not win his first election, but he is learning from it. Dick Durbin lost his first three elections. Paul Simon told him to keep trying.
We have another wonderful young man who is running for the board of trustees of a local community college in my district. He knows where to start. He is also the first vice chairman of his county's Democratic central committee.
We had another one who lost his bid for state senate, but got 42% of the vote. He had the name recognition and the right resume. He is working for Foster's office now, and he is not done running for office.
County leaders like me need to educate these potential candidates, too. We also need to work with the young Democrats in our districts and we need to respect them. They are the future of our party. Otherwise, we will be stuck supporting some asshole who is running for county board simply because his brother-in-law is doing the same thing. We will have the angry parent running for school board, even though he has never attended a school board meeting.
If we slack, the republicans win. The work never ends.
4. Actually I like to joke that our Orange County Young Democrats are the Special Operations Forces
of the Democratic Party in Central Florida - they are the "Delta Force" commandos who have been out working on the campaigns in recent years and they have far more experience and expertise in running campaigns than our older OCDEC members and a lot more interest in actually working to elect people vs. merely being a monthly George W. Bush complainer's club. In fact out of a group of about 50 YD's they managed to elect TWO of them to the FL state house in 2 years and we elected a third guy in a special election who subsequently lost in his re-election in 2008 and we also helped elect Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas.
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