Advice to potential candidates

I am often amazed at the people who run for elective office with no real plan, other than the dream of being the next “whoever”. God bless ya, the water’s warm, and miracles do happen, but you’re wasting your time unless you consider these things:

1. Choose the right race. 

Which races will you realistically have a shot at? Don’t let your ego get ahead of your brain. Ask others you trust. It could even be the right race, but the wrong year. Who’s in that seat already? 

Is the officeholder beatable, or termed out? You may think you’re smarter and better qualified, (you probably are), but they have the advantage of incumbency. 

Do other candidates who might jump in have better name recognition, and are they better funded? There’s only so much money to go around, and especially in the case of big donors, you should have an idea of where those dollars have already been allocated, and how much is still up for grabs.

2. Know your stuff. WHAT does the office require? What expertise do YOU bring? 

“I want the title” is not enough, and voters figure it out pretty quickly. What can you do to improve things? Can you clearly explain where the current office holder has been derelict in his or her duties? Or where your input could assist the other members of the elective body to improve? Once again, KNOW your stuff.

In addition, you’d better have a thorough grasp of what the office you’re seeking is responsible for, and more importantly, what that office can’t do. Please don’t make false promises about doing something that is not within that office’s power. Voters aren’t (entirely) stupid. I say “entirely” because….well, look at some of the people we’ve elected. Enough said.

3. Find a good campaign manager. Get some GOOD advice.

Interview several campaign managers. Do your research on them. You may know them already, but have they actually won any races? If not, why not? Talk to their former candidates. Get their version of events. Discerning what the campaign manager may have done wrong, or what the campaign manager says the candidate did wrong, will help you decide. Maybe the failed candidate expected too much from the campaign manager? Perhaps the candidate didn’t hold up their end of the bargain? You need to know. 

Anyone can run for office, and someone will be happy to take money to run your campaign. This may come as a shock, but some people will feed your ego and convince you that you actually have a chance at a race (when they know you don’t) because they want a paycheck from you for a few months, and they don’t have anyone else in the hopper. 

Some campaign managers will waste your money on things like needless printing, either because they get kickbacks or don’t know any other approaches. Being more creative might be the better play. You have to be careful, especially in a small race, where money is tight.

There’s so much info available online about running a successful campaign that there’s really no excuse. It’s like buying a house. You might hire a realtor, but in the end you really need to do your own research. Read up on how various people have failed politically, and try to avoid making those same mistakes. Get good objective advice from people who don’t have skin in the game.

4. Shore up your party credentials.

Unless you’re running in an (ostensibly) “non-partisan” race, you need to be part of a political party. If you’ve never been to a GOP or Democrat event, and no one has seen your face, good luck. The folks in the trenches know the posers from the serious people, who stay actively involved, whether they’re running or not. They realize you’re just passing through to get elected, suddenly claiming to have conservative or liberal beliefs. Those folks are not easily fooled.

5. Your public profile is not enough to get you elected. 

I’ve known several people who gave up TV or radio careers to run for office, with mixed results. A Republican radio broadcaster recently did that to run against Trump! Whatever, dude. The fact that you’re well-known in one realm isn’t enough to get you elected to anything, unless you’re Donald Trump.

If you’re a network TV personality, you’re probably not allowed to attend political events, either GOP or Democrat, so no one knows you in those groups. You can’t expect to waltz in and have a crown put on your head because you’ve been on radio or TV for years. If you’ve been on TV, never taking hard positions and doing fluff interviews, people might not take you seriously.

There’s another downside to being a public person: If you’ve been hosting an opinion radio show, the Radio Miranda Rule applies. “Everything you’ve ever said can and WILL be held against you” by the opposition research folks. Be prepared.

6. Create a decent website strictly for your campaign. 

Don’t even launch your campaign until that is up and running. If I hear about you and check out your site and it sucks or doesn’t exist, I don’t go back. Neither will donors or constituents.

7. Clean up your social media.

If you’ve been dumb enough to say something online that may come back to bite you, (who hasn’t) clean up your accounts BEFORE you even talk about running. Believe it or not, there are services you can use who will do that for you. A good campaign manager will know this.

8. Think of anything and everything that could be used against you, and be ready to address it. 

Have you had a nasty divorce? A DUI or other arrest? Lawsuits? Do you have a bad reputation in the professional realm? This will come back to bite you, although some people somehow survive it. (I’m thinking of Nevada’s AG). Opposition research people live for those tidbits. Even if a shady past doesn’t bother you, (which is actually an asset when you’re running for office), you need to be honest with your campaign manager up front, and have a plan to address anything that comes up. Or don’t get the race.

A Presidential candidate a few years back had been paying another woman’s RENT. Did he not think that would come up? Of course the op research people knew it, and sat on it, until the right time.

9. Yes, people can and will LIE about you – get ready. 

Sadly, many voters assume that anything said about you by your opponent in a campaign ad or flyer must be true. Unfortunately, people can say things in campaign literature and in ads that I could never say on the radio, lest I be sued. Innuendo and half truths are the rule of the day. It has always been a part of politics, and it’s not going away. Put aside some of your money to defend yourself from last minute hit pieces. Be ready to address any allegation. 

10. Radio interviews won’t get you elected.

Oh, how I sometimes wish that were true. Lots of people think getting five minutes on my show (or anyone’s show) will get them elected. Nope. First of all, if it’s a small race like Nevada Assembly or Senate, chances are small that the audience is full of people who can actually vote for you. You simply have to do the legwork. Even if you’re running for Congress, the same rule applies. You need to focus your attention on your district.

11. Be polite to the media. 

You need us far more than we need YOU. But IF you are asked to do media with a legitimate source, your answer is “YES, I can make it”. If you’re too busy when someone asks you to do an interview, especially if YOU have asked to be on, (yes, I’ve had this happen), don’t say, “I’m not available that day”. Once you start running, you need to be able to be flexible so you CAN do the things that might help your campaign.

And no, we don’t have to have you on. I once had a guy threaten to sue the station because we wouldn’t have him on my show. That’s the way to charm the media! 

12. You’d better have a plan to raise money. 

Raising money is the worst part of campaigning, at least if you’re a decent person. You need to have some of your own, and be wiling to schmooze people with money. Impressing your friends at some backyard barbecue with your great ideas won’t translate into enough support to get you elected. Remember that Karaoke bars are full of people cheering their tone-deaf friends on…

Running for office is hard work, but we need good people in elective office, or our nation will suffer more than it already has. Don’t give up if you want to make a difference, but get your ducks in a row!

Heidi Harris

2-19-20

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Heidi Harris Show Podcast #194: 1 in 3 can’t make it to payday. We used to call that “budgeting”.

CNBC has a story last week about how 1 in 3 people can’t make it to payday, even those earning over $100,ooo. They talked about how some people can’t get everything they want at the grocery store. Really??? Most people I know have to make decisions about what to buy very week. Steaks? Darn, not on sale. Maybe next week…

The fact is, no matter how much you make, you have to live on a budget. I’ve been through unexpected job losses, so I get it. You have to go into lockdown mode. Some people have no idea how to do that, so they will suffer regardless of how much money they have.

I also realize that the economy isn’t what some would have us believe it is. Regardless of what happens to you, you are responsible for how you react to something.

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #198: Yes, fathers matter. “Father Effect” author John Finch joins me.

If you don’t have a great dad, it hurts your life in so many way, you may not realize it until years later. John Finch, author of “The Father Effect” book, and producer of the movie by the same name, found that out. His own father committed suicide when he was 11, and as John grew up he behaved in ways that he thought a man should behave, until he realized what was really missing in his life.

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #197: Bloomberg may be the Nominee? Don’t count him out.

As the other Democrat candidates show more and more weakness, and the Dem Establishment is terrified at the prospect of a Bernie campaign against Trump, keep your eye on Bloomberg. He possesses every quality the left hates in Trump, and he’s not afraid to attack Trump. Clearly the media is happy to have his money, and keep him in the race as long as possible.

Big Ego + Big Money = Happiness for media companies!

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #196: Rebecca Bender, “Trafficked to Triumphant”

Rebecca Bender, a formerly sex trafficked woman, has written an excellent book which is a must-read for anyone with a daughter. Sons aren’t immune to being trafficked, either. The book is called “In Pursuit of Love, One Woman’s Journey from Trafficked to Triumphant”. She spent many years being sex trafficked to the “best” casinos in Vegas.

In our chat, we discuss how pimps lure women in, and how “sex work” is not something that should be considered a legitimate occupation. Anyone who believes otherwise hasn’t done the research. RebeccaBender.org

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #193: Guest, Dr. Edward Beal “War Stories from the Forgotten Soldiers”

My guest Dr. Edward Beal, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, spent many years counseling veterans. His new book, “War Stories from the Forgotten Soldiers” includes many personal stories of veterans who are struggling in various areas. It’s an important book, and a glimpse into the challenges many soldiers face after serving our nation.

It’s stunning to realize how few Americans have a family member serving, as compared to wars past. We need to be not only thankful for their service, but mindful of their sacrifice, which may not be visible on the outside.

You can get his book and find out more about him at edwardbeal.com

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #192: Why do so many resent “income inequality”?

A recent Pew report showed that 61% of people feel “income inequality” is a problem. It all comes down to jealousy. No one should resent what others have. First of all, what you see on the outside is often not the truth, and you have no idea how screwed up their personal lives are in many cases.

 

God makes us all different with attributes, interests and talents that differ, for a reason. The goal shouldn’t be to have all the toys. The goal should be contentment and gratitude for what you do have.

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #190: Why so much despair on the left?

The left seems to be in despair these days, and I see more and more posts regarding this on social media. A liberal friend of mine, whose dad was a famous actor, put this rant on Facebook the other day:

“When I am not frightened by what I see happening in the world, I just feel incurable grief. How is it possible that with all of the abundance, wonder and beauty the earth has to offer, we have constructed a human existence that presents with such scarcity, dread and ugliness? This is no longer a question for the ages, but a pressing concern of existential urgency to us all. There really is only one question left to ask: Is there a way to set a course toward a new way of being human that will make it possible for us to save ourselves, from ourselves?”

It’s pretty sad when someone puts their faith in HUMANITY to save us. We can’t. We don’t have the power. Aren’t you glad? Can you imagine if WE were in charge of everything? Breaking news: People will always let you down. Even people you love. Even people of good character. It’s how you respond to the evil in the world that determines your quality of life.

Heidi Harris Show Podcast #190: Napp Nazworth, former Christian Post editor on leaving CP over Trump

One of the sites I read every day is the Christian Post. Napp Nazworth, as a writer/editor for the Christian Post for the past eight years, was a man whose columns I have posted to my social media accounts many times. He takes courageous stands on social issues, which is too rare these days. I respect his positions. Napp recently left CP because he didn’t agree with the posting of an editorial in support of President Trump.

The Brethren have been squabbling quite a bit over Trump lately. Perhaps The Enemy wants to divide us using Trump? Napp was kind enough to join me to discuss it.

’TIS THE SEASON TO FEEL GUILTY…fa la la la lah…

Did you take a “guilt trip” over the holidays? I took several. Is it me, or has Christmas become one big list of expectations we feel we can’t possibly meet? We Christians know that this celebration of the birth of our Savior is what it’s really all about, and should continue to be about, but that horse left the barn, I’m afraid.

What it has become for many people, including myself, is a season of stress and guilt, even if you try hard to stay focused on the Reason for the Season.

I do love to put up the tree and decorations, and I love the music, but there’s pressure everywhere you look. Did I send out enough Christmas cards? This always falls on the wife, btw. Every year I try to get them out early, or at least have some return address labels printed ahead of time, but suddenly December appears, and I’m surprised. Again. 

I keep a list of people I mail cards to, (I despise Ecards) and the list sometimes gets smaller, or has new people added. People have died, people don’t speak to you anymore…Do you want to include everyone? Then they feel obligated to send one to you, even though they hadn’t planned to, and the guilt is perpetuated. 

Then you always get a few cards from people you forgot…so more guilt.

And although most of us are under the pile this time of year, some people have time to send cards to their doctor or dentist! Or skin care expert. Or any other business. Really? Are ya that far ahead? Please, come help me do MY cards.  

I never have the time or foresight to have a card printed with professional photos, so I usually just include a newsletter and a picture with it. And I keep the newsletter short. You can read it in a minute and half, max. 

I used to have some friends who put a ton of time into doing their annual Christmas photo, complete with formal attire and a glowing newsletter of his professional accomplishments. They put the Kardashians to shame, with their perfect, successful, little family. They’re divorced now. 

And what’s with those people who send you a 1000 word report on their accomplishments over the past year? Who reads that crap? 

Just tell me if you’re still alive, still married, how many kids or dogs or grandkids you have now, what you’re doing, and where you live. Half a page ought to cover it, thanks. 

I don’t mind putting up the inside decorations. I actually love seeing the things I have for a few weeks a year, but of course you have to put them away again. A few hours right there.

Then there’s pressure to do outside decorations. You have to compete with your neighbors, after all, or risk looking like a heathen. This usually falls on the husband. That’s half a day up, and half a day down, right there. 

Then there’s the guilt about where to spend the holidays. This year I spent Christmas Eve with my mom in CA, because my hubby was not able to get away. Dog sitter, work obligations, etc. The expense and hassle just piled up, so we did things separately. I drove home on Christmas Day, to spend that night with him and his side of the family. At least I avoided the snow and road closures in the Cajon Pass. 

Many people feel the pull of his parents or yours. “But this could be her last Christmas…But mine never see us…” and on and on. And if you have kids, shouldn’t they get to have Christmas in their own homes, instead of spending their vacation in the back of a minivan shuttling between grandparents? The answer is yes.  

Then there’s the social stress. The parties you want to attend are all on the same night. Argh. Then you find out about parties you weren’t invited to on FB. Harrumph! Left me out, huh??? More stress.

And let’s not forget about gifts. You simply can’t get everyone gifts, and if you do, often they feel obligated to reciprocate, which causes even more stress. I do keep a few generic “hostess gifts” in my closet, just in case, but still…

You’re afraid to even meet someone for coffee in the month of December because they might bring a gift and catch you empty-handed. Or how about the people who are explicitly told “NO gifts” at an event, but still give you a gift card. Grrr. Now, once again, you feel like a jerk. 

It all makes you want to stay in your house! Maybe it’s just me, but when it’s all over, I’m relieved. I need to get back to work to get some rest! Happy New Year, everyone! See you January 6! 

Heidi Harris

12/30/19