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Advice to Candidates

I’m no campaign expert, but in 20 years of talk radio I’ve learned a few things about running for elective office. Here are my tips, and you can take them for what they’re worth: 

If you’re going to run for elective office, ask yourself WHY, and have a good answer. People will expect one. “Because I want the business card” doesn’t cut it. If you’re only seeking a title or glory (which most are), you won’t last long. 

Decide WHICH which office you want to run for and which specific issues or problems you can realistically address or solve if elected. Don’t campaign for School Board or Senate and talk about things you have no power to control legislatively.

Talk to some political experts before you decide to run. Gauge your name recognition, the political climate, who your opponents are likely to be, who will be supporting them and not you, and again, how strong the incumbent is.

Talk to MORE than one or two people. And if all of them advise against it for one reason or another, even if you think their assessment of your brilliance or the incumbent’s incompetence is unfair, you might decide not to move ahead. You can’t buck everyone in the system and win. Even Donald Trump didn’t do it that way.

Oh, and here’s some breaking news: Consultants, printers, and PR people will sometimes lie to you and encourage you to run because they stand to make money off your (doomed) effort. At the end of the day, YOU will have lost the race. Voters won’t remember anyone else’s names. Be realistic about your chances.

Pick the right TIME time to run and the right office to run for. You may really want to be a Senator, Congressman, etc., but there are times it just doesn’t make sense to run, because the seat is held by an incumbent you may loathe but who has a tight reign on it. This may just not be your year. You might have an easier chance with another office or an open seat. 

Be sure you know the facts about the office you seek, what the job actually entails, and the issues voters care about most. The fact that you can enthrall your friends with your amazing ideas at your backyard party doesn’t mean others will be as impressed. Remember, the people who like you often won’t tell you the truth. They’ll applaud anything you do. 

(I get asked every year to run for office – what does THAT tell you?) 

If you don’t have any money or any way to raise it, you’re doomed. You simply are. Politics shouldn’t be about money, but getting your message out costs money, and so does refuting your opponent’s claims about you. That’s just a fact. If people don’t believe in you enough to support you, walk for you, or give you money, that speaks volumes to voters. 

If you have no campaign manager, no name recognition and no momentum, don’t call MY show or any other talk show for an interview and hope that a few minutes on air will make up for your lack of diligence, money, or preparation. We don’t have that much power. (We wish we did sometimes)

NO, the fact that you’re well known in one field does NOT mean you’re popular or will be taken seriously by those in political circles. You have to earn their respect before you earn that of the voters, and that takes time. No one is going to put a crown on your head because you’re been on TV or a stage for years. (Unless you’re Donald Trump) 

Running for office is hard work, but we need good people or our nation will suffer. Don’t give up if you want to make a difference, but get your ducks in a row! Take running for office as seriously as you’d take the job, and you just might have a chance! 

Heidi Harris