Thinking of Running for Office? The Quick 10 Checklist – Jay Townsend


Number 6. Make Sure You are Running for the Right Office for the Right Reason.

Make note of the problems you’d like to fix and how you would solve them if you had the power to do so. That is what should dictate the office you run for. If you view it as a game of chess, thinking that if you just get elected to a job you don’t want so that you can someday run for a job you do want, you’ll find yourself unhappy at the office and unhappy at home.

Number 7. Study your Jurisdiction.

Before you make the decision of running for office, you really should take the time to learn about the jurisdiction where you are running. It’s size, population, partisan affiliation, voting habits, and the demographic composition, including age, race, ethnicity, income, education level and major employers.

It is OK to run in a jurisdiction where you can’t win if you have something important to say, a cause you want to advance, or a movement you want to ignite, but you should know what you are up against before you make that decision.

Number 8. Study your Opponent.

If you are running for office against an incumbent, you’ll have to explain to voters why they should fire the current office holder. That is easy if the incumbent is unpopular. Much harder to do in a district represented by a popular person.

If you are thinking of running for office in an open seat, you’ll still have to make the case on why you are a better choice than your opponent. Google their name, look for newspaper articles where their name has been mentioned. Look at their social media posts and voting record. You can’t make your case well if you are clueless about your competition.

Number 9. Check Your Social Media Posts

The minute you start talking to people about running for office, word will spread, and someone is going to start looking at everything you have ever posted on Facebook, Instagram, You Tube and Twitter.

If you’ve ever said something offensive, or anything that could be misunderstood or taken out of context, delete it. If you don’t, you will see it in a negative ad.

Number 10. Get some help.

Especially if you are running for the first time. A coach. A mentor. Someone who has run before. Some professional help from someone who has worked on several campaigns.

There are many moving parts to a successful political campaign, and no one can become an expert by reading books or searching for articles on Google. You can learn a lot by doing that, but it takes time, and if you go that route you’ll spend a lot of time learning things you don’t need to know. Better to get help from someone who can help you complete the tasks only you can do, and knows the difference between the important and the not.

I’ll add one more item to this list. If you decide to run for office, be a leader, not a follower. The good Lord gave you your own brain, your own moral code, your own notions of right and wrong. Use them, and be who you are.

Too many in public life today believe politics is the art of sticking their finger in the air, and responding only to the daily shift of the political winds. When voters elect you, they are trusting you to make judgments on their behalf. They expect you to be worthy of the trust they placed in you. You will leave them disappointed if you prove you weren’t.

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