Thinking of running for office?

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Now is the time to get started for 2022

Everyone is focused on the November 2020 election.  It’s hard to think of what may lie beyond that.

However, perhaps you are doing your voter research and see that there were a lot of uncontested incumbents on your ballot.  Perhaps you have been thinking about running for a while, and now see how important your state house and local races are.  Perhaps you have volunteered and organized with progressive candidates that have excited you, and you know you are ready.

Now is the time to get started if you want to be on the ballot in the Illinois March 2022 primaries.  Usually I would suggest to prospective candidates to get out as much as possible in their communities.  I would invite them to go to spring fundraisers for their local schools and volunteer at summer festivals.  Chicago in 2019 had nearly 2,000 block parties – we know because we created a list that broke each down by legislative district, state district, and ward.  Block parties are one of the best parts of Chicago in the summer and they are a great way for a candidate to introduce themselves.

Alas, that was 2019, and this is 2020, and this year everything is different.  Candidates need to be in places where they can meet a lot of constituents.  We are now practicing social distancing.  We aren’t meeting in churches or libraries, and we aren’t holding block parties or festivals.  

Deciding to run for office is difficult in the best of times.  Putting together the infrastructure to run a successful campaign took a lot of work before the pandemic.  And the truth is, things do look and feel different now. 

Pull together your Kitchen Cabinet

Now is the time to start having conversations with your family and friends regarding your campaign.  If you have people in your close circle who have skills (such as finance or digital) or who have relevant contacts (have worked on other campaigns), you may want to involve them right away. Invite them to your Kitchen Cabinet, and set regular meetings with them.  These are people you not only trust to be committed, but also you can trust to be honest with you.

File your paperwork 

Each state has their own set of rules and requirements about this, but the sooner you start tackling this the better.  It’s always best to get an election lawyer to walk you through this. However, there are resources at your local board of elections that can help you.  

Think about your story

This is your statement about why you are the best candidate.  This is also a statement about your values, and the issues that are important to you.   Spend time thinking about this now. The better story you have of why you are running, the easier it will be to make decisions down the road.  Everything will come back to your story, your values, your main issues.

Begin to map out your field plan

I’m a field person, so I think this is the most important thing, but that’s me.  Get your voter data and start identifying who your targets will be. There are a lot of places you can purchase voter data from. But once you filed your paperwork, it’s available for a very reasonable fee from your local board of elections or your state board of elections.

Design your visual presence

You are going to need a logo and a website.  The decisions you make around this, particularly your logo, will shape what a lot of your campaign ads and walk literature look like moving forward.   Even if you aren’t planning on going live until next year, having this lined up now will make every design element you need to create in the future easier.

Create a budget

This is just to give you a rough idea of what you will need to raise.  It will also help you map out when you will need the money to be available.  For example, if you are planning to have your first walk piece ready to go by summer 2021, then you know you will need to have that $150 raised by then.