Independent Progressive Politics Network Campaign Manual

Local Elections Campaign Manual

by Karen Kubby
January 2002


Introduction and goals of workshop
1. Running a people's campaign
2. Pre-Campaigning
3. Goals of the Campaign
4. Identifying Constituencies
5. What are your key issues?
6. Distill issues into message
7. Outreach
8. Endorsements
9. Volunteers
10. Materials
11. Media
12. Finances & Fundraising
13. Keeping Track of Supporters
14. Get Out The Vote
15. Evaluation
16. Miscellaneous tips
17. What do You do if You Get Elected?
Appendix 1 . . . . . . . . Constituencies
Appendix 2 . . . . . . . . Role Plays
Appendix 3 . . . . . . . . Volunteers
Appendix 4 . . . . . . . . Materials
Appendix 5 . . . . . . . . Media Plan
Appendix 6 . . . . . . . . Media Release
Appendix 7 . . . . . . . . Financial Exercise
Appendix 8 . . . . . . . . Candidate's Forum
Appendix 9 . . . . . . . . IPPN Common Platform
Appendix 10 . . . . . . . . IPPN Candidate's Covenant
Appendix 11 . . . . . . . . Evaluation


This manual was developed for use by progressive third party and independent candidates. The original focus was on local electoral races. As activists, a race covering a larger geographic area or a different level of office would have the same grassroots flavor and effectiveness.

As an educator and activist, it has been my desire to put together a campaign manual and experiential workshop for a long time. The impetus came as a part of the National Slate Task Force meeting of the Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN) in 1997. We were talking about how IPPN could support candidates on its National Slate. The IPPN National Slate is a listing of people running for office who can agree, in major part, with the Common Platform (see Appendix 9). We wanted to be able to offer concrete resources to progressives running for office. This was my opportunity to actually design and develop these materials.

In looking at other campaign material available, from mainstream books and web sites to those focused on a specific constituency group, I found that none of them were associated with a hands-on workshop. A workshop affords participants guided skills practice in a supportive environment and an opportunity to network with those who share some fundamental political values.

With the steadfast help of Ted Glick and Dan Coleman, my outline was transformed into narrative. I am very grateful to these two people who helped me focus my energy for this project.

Ted Glick is the National Coordinator of the IPPN and author of Future Hope: A Winning Strategy for a Just Society and a bi-weekly, nationally-distributed, Future Hope column. He has been active in progressive electoral campaigns since 1980.

Dan Coleman is a long-time Green Party activist. Since the mid-1980s, he has played a key role in a number of electoral campaigns including Green Party member Joyce Brown's three successful runs for the Chapel Hill Town Council. Dan is the author of two books: Ecopolitics: Building a Green Society, a discussion of green political theory; and The Anarchist, a historical novel based on the life of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President William McKinley.

With the help and encouragement from Ted and Dan, the campaign manual and workshop were completed in 1998. It is currently in its fourth "edition". These revisions were based on experience with using the materials, feedback from participants of workshops and those who accessed the manual from the IPPN web site.

Many people have contributed campaign materials for the workshop. I've tried to gather examples from a diverse group of candidates in terms of party affiliation, geographic location, type of race run and demographics of the candidates. I thank these campaigns for being willing to share their experience and copies of their materials.

The IPPN National Slate Task Force and Steering Committee have been incredibly supportive of the development and use of these materials. Mostly, I want to thank workshop participants, who have skillfully and bravely jumped into the electoral arena with gusto and success.

Karen Kubby
January 2002


Electoral activity is just one arm of a rounded strategy for positive social change. It must be used in collaboration with education and direct action activities to reap the full potential of its power. There are three ways to view electoral activity.

The first, is to see it as the cult of personality. This kind of campaign can have a lot of momentum -- for a moment, but does little to build a progressive movement. The second is to view an electoral strategy as a way of educating your community about the issues involved in the campaign and how it has relevance in the lives and environment around you. It is a tool to use to reframe how the world is run, how conflicts are resolved and how things get done. The third way to view electoral activity is that it is one way to build your organization -- whether that be a political party, a neighborhood organization and/or an issue centered group.

In short, electoral campaigns can be an integral part of building community and to building the progressive movement.

On a certain level, campaign strategy is independent of political leanings: whether left, right, or center. If you spend enough money and get enough volunteers out, you can win an election. Yet, it is our belief that progressive politics is identified by the values on which it stands.

This manual is geared toward a campaign that is grassroots and democratic, actively engaging citizens and campaign volunteers. Such a campaign is ecological in its use of resources as well as in its policy positions. A people's campaign is one in which means and ends are harmoniously interwoven: the conduct of the campaign is fully reflective of the values and political positions of the candidate. It shows its commitment to social justice through inclusion of diverse citizens in its deliberations.

This manual may get you a little closer to getting out a progressive message in an accessible form at the right time to people who vote. From this information, you can create a plan for success.

A bottom line for many voters is whether or not the candidate is likeable. Much of the campaign, besides educating the community on the issues, is about building relationships. This manual will help you explore various ways of building relationships within your community. It's the fastest way towards positive, radical social change.


  1. Allow progressives interested in local government to network.
  2. To give you a sense of the "cradle to grave" steps involved in the campaign process.
  3. To allow candidates and campaign workers an opportunity to practice skills.
  4. To instill a knowledge base and sense of confidence about being involved in a campaign.
  5. To get feedback to improve the outline and content for the next workshop.

1. Running a People's Campaign

Movement Building: Being involved with electoral politics is one tactic to build the progressive movement, alongside of education on issues and direct action. Making sure that the campaign is part of a larger organizing strategy to build your organization and the movement will allow your energy put in this direction to have much longer lasting positive effects.

Issue-oriented: A people's campaign is an issue-oriented campaign. Take this opportunity to choose issues that are relevant to you and your community. It is an opportunity to talk about these issues in terms of social justice, equity, good public policy, and in terms of intervening in the market for the good of the community.

Culturally competent: Assess the "cultural competence" of your campaign committee and volunteer pool. Hopefully, you will be successful at recruiting wage earners, active union members, people of color, members of the GLBT communities, people living on lower incomes and persons with disabilities as volunteers and advisors.

The manner you use to make decisions about the process and content of your campaign is important. Does the candidate make the decisions? Or is there a more democratic process used that allows many voices to be part of the decision making process?

These are structural suggestions are concrete and constructive ways to build a progressive coalition in your community. When many voices are around the decision-making table, a fuller vision can be implemented. You are also modeling inclusive government.

Cooperation: Cooperation with other progressive campaigns - either public or behind the scenes cooperation. Are you sharing resources and coordinating events so that you help versus hinder each other? For example, yard sign coordinators for two different campaigns could avoid duplication of efforts, by cooperatively driving/biking all over town to put up signs by dividing the community up geographically and putting up the appropriate signs in the yards of supporters.

Accountability: Many issues of fiscal accountability are lived out through financial disclosure decisions made by campaigns. See the finance section on page 15.

Good government: Candidates who are advocating good government and clean government must model this behavior as a candidate. You can show this by being a good listener on the campaign trail, turning in campaign disclosure forms on time and only making campaign promises you can keep.

Worker justice: Use union labor on all materials, if available. In some areas, you may have to hunt to find a union printer in your region. Be persistent in finding union printed materials. Ask local labor unions for help, they will know right where to send you. If there are no union printers locally, you may need to balance values by having some materials printed locally to invest in the local economy and send some work outside of the immediate community to get a union bug.

Environmental justice: Are the materials you use in your campaign lower-impact? Think about using and advertising your use of post-consumer recycled materials and non-toxic inks. You can educate the community by asking people to recycle them after use and telling them how to recycle them. Many times, lower-impact materials are more expensive than virgin materials.

Activism: Bring your activist tactics to city hall as a candidate or issue activist. Broader participation is good for everybody. Examples:

  1. Place campaign posters on public kiosks and on public transportation.
  2. Host a teach-in on the city budget.
  3. Create a watchdog group to monitor the policy making body to which you are striving to join.

2. Pre-Campaigning

Before you launch into full-scale campaigning you need to have some things in place.

Probably the most important thing is that the candidate be someone who is somewhat known in the community. If you are already known, these suggestions will strengthen your visibility, if you are not known, these things will get you known:

Be visible!

Are the people you are closest to, your partner, family, and closest political allies, supportive of your decision to run or play a major role in an election? You will need their support, guidance and patience during the campaign process.

What distinguishes you from the other potential candidates? What distinguishes your issues from those of other campaigns? What brings your candidacy credibility in the eyes of the community? Would you vote for you?

List your strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the candidates you know will be running for the same office. Figure out how to compensate for or answer questions about your weaknesses.

To realistically assess the profile of a candidate, explore these areas:

Research the incumbents voting record and that of your opponents. How can you turn their weaknesses into strengths for your issues?

Know how many votes you need to win this race. You can get vote tallies from the Secretary of State for national and some state races. For other state and local races, the Commissioner of Elections will have this information. Target constituency groups in numbers that can gain that winning total. See the constituent section on page 10.

You need to develop a campaign plan, including a time line. Know the appropriate deadlines for getting in petition signatures, for registering new voters, for filing campaign reports and other important dates. These timeframes are available from the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of Elections, or the City Clerk's office.

To develop and implement a campaign plan, it is very helpful to have a campaign committee that meets on a regular basis. These should be people you know and trust. Some may be new people you recruit specifically because of expertise they have in the issues, media, political and electoral strategy, or finances. This group should also reflect the breadth of your natural constituency.

You need a Campaign Manager, someone who has organizing skills and an ability to work with people. They need to be able to tell you when you are saying or doing something wrong. They need to be trustworthy. They need to be committed to the issues and the shared vision of the campaign. They need to have a good political sense of the community. They need to have good follow-up skills and tact. It is very, very difficult for the candidates to act as their own campaign manager and this should be avoided at all costs.

Having a candidate/campaign manager team who can inspire and motivate others is a great benefit to a campaign.

You will need a Treasurer.

You will also need a Volunteer Coordinator

Practice public speaking; get used to getting up in front of people and making your points clearly and succinctly. Starting out speaking to small friendly groups will help build your skills and your confidence.

Begin a voter registration campaign for your targeted voters. Go door-to-door, write letters about the importance of voter registration to the papers, go to area events and meetings with voter registration cards. A voter registration drive is a non-threatening way of introducing the campaign to the community while providing a community service. It is a way of practicing good government. Make sure you keep a list of people the campaign registered, as these individuals are part of the targeted group you will try to get out to vote for the campaign.

Research events, groups and activities to attend. Ask everyone you know to tell you about all the meetings, events, pancake breakfasts, fairs, etc. Get on the agenda of community groups. Be everywhere.

Meet with people who are community leaders, or who regularly interact with numbers of people. Even if there were no chance they would support you, ask them for their views on your issues. They may not be persuaded to support your campaign, but they can be neutralized and less willing to actively support someone else or to talk negatively about you.

If appropriate, let your employer know of your decision to run. You may be able to negotiate some flexibility in your work schedule so you would be available to go to a wider variety of events. Access any vacation time you have accumulated. You may need to use them in the last weeks of the campaign, as well as for a post campaign respite.

3. What are the Goals of the Campaign?

The first thing you need to be clear about is why you are running. Are you running to educate voters on the issues, to build an organization of like-minded people, to win and take office, or all three? None of these options are mutually exclusive.

It is important to be clear about how you answer this question, as your answer will effect how you spend your time, your resources and utilize volunteer energy.

If your goal is an educational campaign, you may spend more time with individuals and small groups exploring issues. You might not care if the people the campaign interacts with are registered to vote.

Your goal might be to build a local organization. In this case, the focus of your campaign may be on endorsements of local organizations to draw them into the campaign and on coalition building amongst constituency groups.

If your focus is solely on winning, marketing of the issues and candidate will be the priority.

With clear goals, a long lead-time and a solid campaign plan, you can have a campaign that is educational, builds your organization, that builds the progressive movement AND is successful in electing progressives to office.

4. Constituencies - how to identify: get list from groups, auditor; rank precincts; how to reach: phonebank, mail, canvass

You will need to identify your natural constituencies by listing organizations and individuals that hold similar values, use similar strategies, and are interested in the issues you have chosen as the focus of the campaign.


To broaden your constituency, you will need to make a secondary and tertiary list of people and organizations that might support you. Later on, you will need to mobilize these groups of people to get them out to vote and to be volunteers for your campaign.

Identify broad groups (as above), individual organizations, and individuals within these organizations. You may ask these individuals to help you garner support from these constituency groups.

Network - have advisors fill out constituency lists. See constituencies worksheet in Appendix 1.

Additionally, you must determine who you will be targeting as the general voters who are going to support you. Are they people who are already voting? Are they new people that you intend to register? Do particular ethnic, income, job category, and geographic or other characteristics define them? Research should be conducted into voting patterns in your district to help determine the answers to these questions.

What is the profile of the district?

5. What are your key issues (and opponents' issues)?

What are the major issues of your campaign? You can't address all of them, although you do need to be as knowledgeable overall as you can be. Generally, it's best to choose three or four major issues that are important to you and the people in your election district. You should think about how to learn more about them -- from other people, research, direct experience in groups, and other ways -- and develop your positions. Then, during the campaign, whenever people think of the campaign, they'll think of those three or four issues you are promoting. Create and push the agenda for the race.

Focusing your issues can actually broaden your appeal. When people hear the candidate's name, you want them to be able to list three or four issues that identify the campaign. If you accomplish this, you have made your agenda clear and successfully interacted with the community.

6. Distill issues into message

It is important to be able to convey the goals of your campaign in a succinct message that speaks for you and has meaning for others. The message is what you say when you're meeting people on the street and they ask, "What do you stand for as a candidate?" Avoid platitudes such as, "I want to give back to my community" (what did you take that wasn't yours?). Your positive message needs to be conveyed in 3 minutes and minute format It can be further refined into a slogan.

A slogan rolls off the tongue well, has meaning to your constituency, is short and concise and is not too cheezy. You might also think about how the slogan translates into another language -- both conceptually and linguistically. Be careful in using humor. What you think is funny can be interpreted by others as demeaning or offensive.

Sample slogans:
Joyce Brown - She's a natural!
Kevin Foy - Growing Our Way
Michael Nelson - Progressive, Accessible Leadership
Sometimes it Takes a Rocket Scientist
He Teaches 6th Grade -- He Can Handle the Legislature
Doug Paterson-Revive the Dream!
For a re-election campaign:
Karen Kubby-She's Worth Recycling!

7. Outreach - meeting people, going to events, courting organizations; maximum events, target message, start early

I. Canvassing

Door-to-door campaigning is one very important grassroots element of this work. People will remember conversations with you years later.

Figure out how much you can do. Will you do blanket canvassing or targeted? Do you do it alone or with a group, or a mix? Have a map; mark off completed areas.

How do you determine what doors to knock on? Getting voter registration lists with voter history allows you to knock on the doors of people who are highly likely to vote ("chronic" voters) and interaction at their door step may persuade them to vote for you. Blanket door knocking in some areas allows you to register people to vote who may be natural allies. Your campaign goals and plan will guide you as to which strategy to use when and where.

Have a goal of a certain number of doors a day or week or amount of time doing this per week. Although it's difficult at first, it's very much worth it.

Start with friendly precincts or wards. Sprinkle good areas in between harder ones. Don't let yourself get discouraged! Meeting people face to face and listening to them can be energizing!

Have something small to leave at the door that includes your name, issues, and contact information. If no one is home, you can handwrite something like, "Sorry I missed you," and sign it. You can leave it in their door or under the mat in a visible way. Remember that mailboxes are for mail only.

As you talk to people, take notes. The content of your conversations may lead you to a policy decision.

Develop a list of people with addresses and phone numbers who are definitely supportive or leaning your way. These will be your targeted voters to be brought out to the polls on Election Day. If someone is very enthusiastic, ask him or her if they would like to get involved as a volunteer for the campaign.

Follow-up your door-to-door work with a postcard thanking the household for the time you spent with them.

Voter registration may be the reason you are going door to door, but once you've made contact you can go on and talk about your issues and your campaign with those already registered.

You can generate some attention for your canvassing efforts by putting out a press release letting people know what part of town to expect your campaign on a particular week.

Before a coffee or reception in a neighborhood, go door to door inviting neighbors to the event.

Remember that people may be uncomfortable answering their door to a stranger after dark, so start well before then. In warm times and areas, protection from the heat and insects is a must. Carry your own water.


You can't get in office if your supporters don't vote, and they can't vote if they aren't registered!!

II. Phone

Telephone outreach is also important! If you're the candidate, think about getting an operator head set for hands-free phoning. It's easier on the neck and lets you pace, do the dishes, or takes notes pain-free! Create goals about the amount of time spent at this per week, or the number of contacts.

Other people from the campaign should also be doing telephone outreach, finding definite, likely and potential voters for you in the process. Be sure to keep good records! Use scripts (in a conversational tone) to ensure a consistent message. This also allows you to better interpret the results of voter's response, as the information was gotten in a consistent manner.

Phone banking should begin in earnest two weeks before voting is available. Mobilize the definite or likely voters your campaign has identified to be sure they come out to vote. Use a script. This is helpful to volunteers and your campaign will be giving a consistent message. You will need to decide if your phone call is a soft one ("just calling to remind you to vote by 9pm at ___") or a harder persuasion call (Helen belongs to Earth First!, too and will bring issues of sane land stewardship to city hall).

With the advent of early voting, you made need multiple waves of GOTV calling. This could be targeted geographically. For example, if early voting is happening at the local grocery store on a particular weekend, make GOTV calls or do a lit drop in the precincts/wards immediately adjacent to the store.

Be sure not to peak too early, as the majority of voters still vote on Election Day.

III. Mail/Lit Drops

If you have the resources to do a direct mail piece or literature drop right before the election, time it so that it will actually be read. People don't pay much attention to elections, especially local ones, until right before the election. To get the most out of this piece of literature, mailing/dropping it so that people get it the weekend before the election will increase the chances of a voter reading it. You can mail/drop it to a targeted list or you can do a blanket mail/drop to targeted areas or blanket everybody.

IV. Forums and Meetings

Go to public forums, and go prepared. Try to know who the audience will be and what issues they'll be most concerned about. Address those issues but also speak about your major ones. For example, if you are going to a neighborhood association candidate's forum, call the president and/or staff of the association or of the city and ask them about the issues confronting that area of town. They will appreciate your interest. Maybe ask them to take you on a tour of their neighborhood. Being seen with the president can pull some support your way. Municipal planning documents may be an important source of information on a particular neighborhood.

Ask for something specific at the forum or meeting you attend. For example:

Have a sign-up sheet, envelopes and literature at all events. Have a pin made that says your name, that you are a candidate, and what office you are seeking. Wear this pin everywhere.

Role-playing can help you be prepared for the forums, or for other aspects of the work. Video tape yourself and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your presentation.

Bring someone with you who can give you feedback on your performance.

V. Miscellaneous

Think of creative campaign ideas, such as parades, party fund-raisers that are fun, original cartoons printed on literature or sent to newspapers. These ideas are fun for volunteers and bring a sense of humanity to the seriousness of the issues. It can also help create momentum for your campaign.

It is important to plan the peak of your campaign to coincide with when you have the voters attention. This usually means the week or a few days before they vote.

8. Endorsements - why, how many, who, how to use, individual vs groups

Reach out to organizations and individuals with recognized and respected names. Ask them to endorse you, give you money, and help recruit volunteers for your campaign or come to a campaign event.

What constituencies do you need help with? What organizations/ people can you approach?

What weaknesses can you overcome with appropriate endorsements?

Many local newspaper editorial boards will endorse candidates. Once you have officially declared your candidacy, be sure to send information on your campaign to the editorial board. Ask them to meet with you so they can find out about your campaign directly from you. Ask about their endorsement procedure, plans and timeframe. Ask them for their endorsement.

9. Volunteers - importance, how to find, organize (coordinator, flexibility, sensitivity to limits balanced w/ need to ask)

You will also need a Volunteer Coordinator who will contact people to assign tasks, schedule volunteers, coordinate mailing parties, calling, and to follow-up with people about their commitments. This person needs good social, phone and computer skills. They should also be directed to make sure that volunteers are comfortable with the tasks they are performing, to provide training for volunteers, and to have snacks available at work parties.

Coordinate, motivate, appreciate.

Recruit volunteers throughout. People need to be asked. You may need to practice doing this. Those who offer to help the campaign need something to do within a short time frame, say 48 hours. This gives them a sense of immediate connection and gets them physically involved. Keep cards with you at all times to get names, addresses, phone, fax and e-mail. Give them something simple that they enjoy so they are ready and willing to come back for more.

Give choices to volunteers. If you don't specifically ask for help, you may not get it. Build in a social aspect to volunteer activities.

10. Materials - signs, brochures (people's campaign: accessibility, educate, consistent message and aesthetic, style, physical materials, timing, grassroots)

You need good pictures of yourself to go onto your literature and able to be reproduced in newspapers, tabloids, posters, postcards and buttons. If progressive notables will pose with you, get pictures of you together. Also, pictures of you going door-to-door, touring the library, and inspecting the recycling center would all be great additions for your literature.

Don't forget to smile!

Always ask: What are you communicating? To whom? How much will they read?

Write a brief biography that outlines your professional, political, and personal qualifications for the office you are seeking.

Explore public access television possibilities. Have a show done about the campaign, with volunteers talking about the issues, why they're involved, etc. Try to show other parts of yourself -- working, playing with family, in garden or at park, enjoying hobbies, etc. Research access rules on how much a candidate can appear.

Produce nice-looking buttons and distribute widely, asking for donations to help finance the campaign.

Get posters put up in windows of businesses and on public bulletin boards. Posters can also be put on bike racks and car windows. These strategies are low cost and highly visible. Avoid placement in illegal places, such as electrical boxes or telephone poles.

Yard signs need to be readable. They give people a chance to be more out and vocal about their support for the candidate or issue. An advantage of not putting a date on them is they then become reusable for the next time.

(a second run or a re-election). On busy locations, they can be stapled to a large board for higher visibility. This also allows room for periodic additional messages such as, "no new airport", "vote today", or "thank you".

Individually and colorfully painted signs are more work, but they are less costly, less toxic and add an element of fun and artisianship to the campaign.

Having a good piece of literature to hand out and mail out is very important. This brochure or tabloid can outline who you are, your values, and how people can expect you to behave as an elected official. Adding an insert including a calendar of events and any early voting sites can be designed to be a "refrigerator" piece so that you become a part of the household, at least for a little while. This insert can also be a community service piece letting people know about recycling or bike paths or upcoming public hearings or community meetings.

Studies show that people look at political campaign material for less than 10 seconds. This means you need to have some immediate impact through your issues, words, graphics, and layout if you are to meet and beat the odds.

Printed materials you create need to be clean, concise and readable. This piece of campaign material is not a treatise. Use plenty of white space.

11. Media - outlets, free vs paid, min/max strategies

Develop a media plan as part of the overall campaign plan. Determine a budget for how much you can/want to spend on paid advertising. Where do you want to spend it -- radio, TV, print media? Don't forget cost efficient media such as the scroll on the weather channel or classified ad sections of weekly and daily newspapers. Create a media calendar beginning the day after Election Day and working backward with deadlines and production schedules. Don't forget "day after" the election thank you ads and posters. This is a gracious gesture that helps build for the next campaign whether you win or lose.

Studies also show that people act on what they see in various forms of advertising once they've seen that information for the seventh time. Making sure people see you in their mail, in the newspaper, on TV and hear you on the radio make it more likely they will remember your name and the issues you are advocating. One good way to see local examples of media plans is to review campaign disclosure reports of campaigns your committee thought were effective. Where did that campaign spend their media dollars?

Having a media plan can also help out with effective fund-raising. In your mailing have a coupon with check offs for different amounts that correspond with your needs. For example, there could be a box for, "$50 for 5 am radio ads". The coupon can also encourage people to write about their support for the campaign. These writings can lead to inspirations for ads later on or quotes to be used in radio or print ads. Include a check-off for permission to use their quotes so you don't have to get in touch with them to get permission. It would be ideal to let people know of your plan to use their words and name even if they checked off the permission box.

When getting price quotes for ads (print, radio, or TV) tell them this will be a political ad, as they are required to give you the lowest available price. Ask about repeat discounts.

Think of ways to get free media publicity. Do you know any people who work as reporters or editors? What about local public access cable channels or free or talk radio? Do issue-oriented, creative press releases and/or events. With friendly press be sure to follow up and keep in contact. Develop a relationship with individual reporters who will be covering the race. Some community organizations may allow you to place an ad or run a letter free of charge or for a very modest cost in their newsletters.

Good media releases about your candidacy or initiative are very important. Do as much work for the reporter as possible so that the message you want to relay is changed as little as possible. For tips on writing media releases, see Appendix 8.

Follow up with your display ad contact to ensure that the correct ads are run on schedule, and if allowed by policy, placed where requested.

During the campaign, the reporter may try to get the candidate to respond to something other campaigns are doing. It is very important to stick to your message. Know the three points you want to make and answer every question with one of these three points. Do not allow the media to control your agenda. This takes practice and patience. Don't spend your limited time with the press and your limited free column inches talking about someone else's ideas.

12. Finances & Fundraising - develop a phased budget, fund-raising plan, limits, disclosure, thanks

You will need a Treasurer. Their name will appear on much of the literature and, of course, the financial reports. The person who is treasurer doesn't have to be the one who does all of the work, but they need to be good with numbers, responsible, and with some experience in record keeping. It's good to have a Treasurer who has name recognition.

Your campaign needs to find out the rules for fundraising. Are there limits? What about receiving matching contributions from government if you follow campaign finance reform rules? What might be some self-imposed rules? Some examples:

Print ads can say, "Paid for by _____," (in some areas they must say this). Include your Treasurer's mailing address and phone number so people can easily respond with contributions, requests for information or to volunteer for your campaign from seeing the ad.

Have there been other progressive candidates in your area? If so, look at their financial disclosure forms. There will be lists of people who have contributed to that campaign. Maybe a letter from that candidate to his/her previous contributors would be a successful direct mail strategy.

Fundraising is done by selling buttons, organizing house parties, organizing larger fund-raising events, direct mail solicitation, potluck, raffles, organizational contributions, family contributions and other ways you can come up with that are legal!

Are there successful local fundraisers who would help your campaign?

Pasta or chili dinner fundraisers for $5 a person or $10 a family are affordable and easy to organize. This is a way to allow families to spend time together while supporting your campaign.

If you have any doubts about the legality or appropriate process for an expenditure, call the State Auditors Office in advance to seek counsel.

Make sure you turn in required financial reports in a timely manner. If you don't have all the required information, fill out what you can, call the State Auditors Office and let them know in advance about your circumstance. Ask them for the appropriate course of action. You may have to file an amended form and pay some penalties and/or interest.

13. Keeping track of supporters

Collect lists of progressive voters in your district from progressive organizations, other candidates/elected officials, your address book, the address books of campaign workers and volunteers, the contributors' list for local non-profits (many times listed in their newsletters), and salary listings of local public employees. Put all of this into a database, either computerized or on paper.

If there are people you consider to be opponents (other candidates, chair of the Republican Party, conservative activists) keep a list of them and delete them from your database. There is no sense using time or money to let them know what you are up to or reminding them to vote.

Targeting voters allows you to focus your time and resources. You can target voters on the basis of:

At every event you attend, have a sign-up sheet and add these names to your database as targeted voters. When you go door to door, note the address of those with whom you had a positive interaction and add these folks to your targeted voter list. If your campaign registered people to vote, these new voters are also a part of your targeted universe for get out the vote.

14. Get Out The Vote [GOTV]/election day activities - presentation (target, prepare, train, feedback; event for volunteers, inform media, prepare comments (victory or defeat), thank people; run thank you ad)

Find out early about the rules and procedures for absentee voting or early voting. There may be rules for establishing an early voting site. This site could be a shopping center, a place of business where there are many employees, a grocery store or your public library. Rules are available through your local Commissioner of Elections. Early voting creates convenience for people. It also creates a need to have a campaign plan that incorporates several "mini-peaks" to the campaign and makes the process of campaigning a little more complex.

If people say they will need to absentee vote or vote early, help them to do so. Follow-up is crucial to ensure that your absentee voters actually vote and vote in time. Some communities are moving towards mail ballots as the main or sole way of voting. In both absentee voting and mail ballot, there are challenges. For example, if you peak at the end or something big comes out about your or your opponent that might be a factor in how people decide to vote, many have already voted and cannot retract or change their vote.

On Election Day you can have people at some or all of the polling places. Contact your local Commissioner of Elections for rules and regulations about poll watching. Have the Commissioner's number handy on Election Day at the polls in case of any questions. There can be NO campaigning at polling places or within specified distances from polls.

Poll watching is the process of seeing who has already voted and communicating that information to the volunteers doing GOTV contact. It allows you to focus your last bit of energy in the most efficient way possible -- on your targeted voters who have not yet voted.

If you can't have people at polling places all day, have them there in the afternoon and in the evening after the big after work voting rush. Knowing who voted during the day allows you to focus your efforts on those who haven't yet made it to the polls.

Have people working the phones to be sure your definite and likely voters have actually gone to the polls. If you can do it, and if its needed (for senior citizens, for example), be prepared to offer people rides to the polls. During the day, have volunteers call areas where people may be home during the day -- an area that might have a lot of stay at home parents or seniors. These voters may be able to get away during the day to vote and will be grateful that your campaign reminded them of the opportunity.

Remember, Eelection Day is not a day to persuade people towards voting for you/your candidate. It is a day to get your supporters to the polls.

In the future, we will also have to learn to incorporate electronic voting into our campaign strategies.

15. Evaluation of campaign - were goals met, strategy followed, people thanked

The candidate or Campaign Manager might call a meeting of the core group a few weeks after the campaign. In order to have a thorough accounting of what happened during the previous year(s) or months, it is important to evaluate the campaign. Some areas you may decide to assess:

Sometimes during a campaign there were moments of frustration or miscommunication. Make sure that these issues get processed through so there are only lingering positive feelings from the campaign. Some work around these types of issues is best done one-on-one, others, that are more structural, might be best talked about within the group.

16. Miscellaneous Tips

A great campaign gift that may need to be reported as an in-kind contribution is food. Someone may be willing to have the candidate over twice per week for dinner with no obligation to stay and chat or do the dishes. This helps the candidate eat well and use their time and energy for the campaign instead of cooking and cleaning.

Get plenty of sleep.

Do not let "thank-yous" wait until the campaign is over. This should be done promptly and be an on-going task. Doing this as you go also gives immediate feedback and appreciation to supporters that may motivate them to keep contributing time, energy and other resources to the campaign.

Make sure you know where the other candidates will be located on election night and how to contact them. If you should not win, a call to the winner (s) is good idea.

The most important work for the candidate is direct contact with voters (and, to a lesser extent, donors and volunteers). Try to organize the campaign so the candidate's time is focused here.

Have fun!!

17. What do you do if you get elected?

There are many ways to live out the role of a progressive policy maker. For many, this is the first successful campaign/candidate with which they have been involved. There are two major areas to think about -- content and process.


There are a variety of issues upon which to focus. You will need to learn to train your focus because it is not possible to know everything about everything. Here are some issues that may be "naturals" for a progressive holding public office:


How you do your job is as important as what gets accomplished. Accountability and fairness are incredibly important to most people. Below are some suggestions for how to implement "good government".

It is also crucial to think about how you will be accountable to your community, your constituents and to the issues you ran on. Continue to build your community through building relationships with your political allies, your political foes, organizations, individuals and the media.

Being an elected official is a position of privilege. You will learn about so many things and about yourself. It will change your life and you will change the lives of others. It is how we use this privilege for the greater good that can lead our communities towards a greater democracy and a more equitable society.

Appendix 1


List organizations to which you belong.

______________________________ ___________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

List organizations to which your family members belong.

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

List organizations with which you and the organizations you belong to have worked.

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

List your demographics:

Age _____

Gender _________________

Income _________________

Race ___________________

Family status ______________________________________________________

Religion/spiritual path ______________________________________________

Profession ________________________________________________________

Area of town in which you live ________________________________________

Schools in your area:

Elementary ____________________________________________________

Junior High ____________________________________________________

Senior High ____________________________________________________

Private Schools _________________________________________________

Community Colleges _____________________________________________

Training Institutes _______________________________________________

Universities ____________________________________________________

List your key values: ________________________________________________________________________


List groups that might share these values (that are not listed above):

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

List possible endorsers (both individuals and organizations):

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

Appendix 2



You are a candidate for city council. You have made an appointment with a local small business person that you've known professionally for a few years. The purpose of the meeting is to ask this person for their support for your candidacy and to get a quote to be used publicly in a brochure, for posters and /or other paid advertising.


A friend has organized a small fundraising gathering at their home. They have invited friends, neighbors and co-workers. They have already made a money appeal for your campaign to the whole group. Not many have given yet. You approach a couple who is wearing your campaign button. Ask them for a $50 contribution.

Appendix 3


In thinking about possible volunteers, don't forget to go through your phone lists.

List family members:

______________________________ ___________________________

______________________________ ___________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

List your friends:

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

List your co-workers:

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ ______________________________

List your neighbors:

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ ____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

List people you have volunteered for or volunteered with:

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

______________________________ _____________________________

Appendix 4


What campaign materials will you use to:

Leave at the door? ________________________________________________

Leave at free places? ______________________________________________

Post on information bulletin boards? __________________________________

Place in yards? ___________________________________________________

Send in the mail? _________________________________________________

Give away at community events (picnics, parades, meetings, etc.) __________


Other? __________________________________________________________



Appendix 5


In using the costs listed in the last exercise, develop a media plan for your campaign. Your media budget is $1500. Use the provided chart to help outline your plan. You will not only need to decide what type of media to use, but you will need to decide when to use which type.

Typically, paid media is used more extensively at the end of campaign. The questions used in the previous exercise can be used in focusing your use of media dollars.

1997 City Council Race - Derek Maurer's Budget

Item Amount Percentage of Budget
Mailing (copy, postage) $1100 35%
Yard Signs $1050 33%
Paid advertising $800 25%
Brochure printing $113 4%
Copies $40 1%
Misc. postage $32 1%
Voter list (from Auditor) $20 1%
Total: $3155 100%

[Add media plan worksheet here]

Appendix 6

Media Releases

The purpose of a media release is to put information out to the various media sources in a useable form. There are a variety of acceptable formats, all of which have some common elements. Some common elements of an effective media release and tips for including them are listed below. A good media release makes the reporter's job easier. Some might say that we are enabling laziness. Why not frame the issues, write the news and quote ourselves?

The media release on the next page was sited by the magazine Campaigns & Elections in its January 1992 edition, as being a positive example of a media release.

  1. Release date: You can put a date on the media release. You can write, "For Immediate Release".
  2. Contact information: Always include easy contact information for the reporter to follow up on the story. Include a day phone number of the contact person, most likely the candidate.
  3. Bold Headline: The headline on the media release is one of the first things an Assignment Editor or reporter will see. It will entice them to read on. A headline of "Candidate Seeks Mayoral Seat" is not as exciting as one that reads, "Socialist Seeks Mayoral Seat". Use strong and active words in the headline.
  4. Newsworthiness: If you can connect the major point in your media release to a larger issue, it will be defined as more newsworthy. If there is a national or regional connection, the chances will be greater that your media release will be picked up and utilized. For example, if one of your major campaign issues is a stronger human rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation as a protected class, you may want some statistics or examples from other communities that indicate a national trend.
  5. Quotes: Providing quotes makes the job of the reporter easier. They can print a story without ever having to contact you. It also helps ensure the accuracy of your quotes, since they have it in writing. This also allows you to see what your quotes look like in print and how they read. A quote designed for a reading audience might be structured differently than one designed for a listening audience. Never write a quote for someone else and use it in a media release without her/his explicit permission.
  6. "The End": You need to let the media know that they have the whole media release. Even if you number the pages (press releases are typically one page long), put an indicator at the bottom that it is the end. Some examples-all of which would be centered on the bottom of the page -- "The End", "-30-", "#####".
  7. Getting it to the media: You can snail mail, fax, email or personally deliver media releases. It is best to ask each media outlet about their preference. Many prefer electronic communication, as they can easily cut and paste it into their system.
  8. Using the media to help you stay on message: Having the media release on hand to refer to in case a reporter calls is very helpful. It allows you to stay on message during an interview. Do not let the reporter get you off message. The media release can be highlighted so that you repeat your message at every turn, do not stray from your message and repeat your quote easily, as it is right in front of you. It will allow you to better control the interaction.

Appendix 7


The following are estimated costs of some common campaign expenses. Outline your campaign expenditures and develop a fundraising plan to pay for them. Some things to think about and/or questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Create your ideal plan without regard to money. You can restrict your spending at a later date.
  2. Reflect back upon the goals of this campaign and your personal key values.
  3. How are these goals and values reflected in your campaign plan?
  4. Looking at your natural constituency groups and those you want to persuade, what methods of contact will be the "biggest bang for the buck"?
  5. Multiple contacts are necessary for persuasion.
  6. Are there ways your message and process for getting your message out can reinforce or detract from each other? For example, what would a constituent think if one of your campaign themes is to decrease junk mail and you then send them three different campaign materials via the mail?
  7. How can you use your desired campaign budget to raise money? The budget process may help you generate a list of fundraising ideas.
12 cents per copy, folded, from local copy center
8 cents per copy from local print shop, but must order 2,000.
10 cents per copy from union print shop in another city, must order 1,500.

Yard signs:
weather resistant coated paper with wire -- 250 for $300 or 500 for $400.
Plywood for handpainted signs that are larger -- $12.00 per sign, including two metal posts and something to hold them together.

Newspaper ads:
1 x 1=$13.32
2 x 2=$53.28
2 x 4=$106.56
4 x 6=$319.68
full page=$1698.30
Saturday rates are higher and if you run the same ad more then once within 6 days you get 30% discount on the second ad, if you run it a third time, that ad gets a 40% discount.

Radio ads:
$10 per ad AM stations
$25 per ad FM stations

Scroll on the weather channel:
$85 for 7 days, 10 times per day.


Postage costs:
.32 per 3 sheets at full rate
.23 per 3 sheets with a bulk permit which costs $100 upfront to attain.


Budget Worksheet

Category of Expenditure Ideal Budget Target Budget If you have $_____ more If you have $_____ more

Appendix 8


You are a candidate for City Council.

Tonight, you are attending a candidates forum where you will be making statements and answering questions from the sponsoring organization and the general public. This forum will be broadcast live on the local government channel and will be rebroadcast once a day through Election Day. A local radio station is also covering tonight's event live. Two of the three local papers are present. There are 50 people present to hear the candidate's views on issues.

You will be able to give a 3-minute opening statement. One of the questions below will be asked by the moderator. The audience will also be able to ask questions. You will have one minute to respond to these questions. Each candidate will be able to make a one-minute closing statement.

The moderator will give you a 30 second warning and a stop indicator.


  1. Why are you running for City Council?
  2. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? How would your answer impact your decisions as a city council member?
  3. What would you do to increase ridership on city buses?

Appendix 9

Common Platform of the National Slate
of Independent Progressive Candidates

End Poverty Now

Free Health Care for All

Affordable Housing for All

Fair Elections

Participatory Democracy

A Domestic Marshall Plan

An Ecological Transition Plan

Environmental Defense and Environmental Justice

Sustainable Agriculture

Human Rights and Equality for All

Workers' Rights

Women's Rights

Children and Youth Rights

Gay and Lesbian Rights

Legal Justice

End Militarism

End Corporate Welfare

Progressive Tax and Budget Policies

Appendix 10

Candidate's Covenant
with the National Slate of Independent Progressive Candidates
for the 2002 Election Cycle

By signing on to the National Slate of Independent Progressive Candidates, I:

1) affirm that I am an independent candidate or a candidate of an independent progressive party or parties for local, state or national office;

2) affirm that, if I am cross-endorsed by an establishment party (Democrat, Republican, Reform), my primary organizational commitment and accountability is to an independent progressive party;

3) affirm my agreement with the basic principles, though not necessarily every detail, of the Common Platform of national demands of the National Slate of Independent Progressive Candidates;

4) agree to allow my name, party affiliation, and office I am seeking to be included on lists of the Slate that will be circulated to the media and general public;

5) affirm the Slate's stated purpose of being a unity-building step toward a united, independent, progressive national party or alliance of parties of the people;

6) agree to report the election results in my race (number of votes for all candidates in my race) to the clearinghouse of the National Slate in Brooklyn so the combined efforts of the Slate can be reported to the public;

7) understand that as a member of the National Slate I retain my own party's identity on the ballot and affirm that my own electoral platform does not contradict the basic principles of the National Slate's Common Platform;

8) agree to circulate the Common Platform along with my own platform and campaign literature when and where it is appropriate;

9) understand that my address will be available to other candidates on the Slate and that I may contact other candidates on the Slate;

10) understand that I will receive periodic updates on the National Slate of Independent Progressive Candidates.

_____________________   __________   ____________________
Signature of candidate Date Office candidate is seeking

_____________________   ______________________
Candidate's printed name Party designation(s) on ballot

Address _________________________________

City _________________    State _____     Zip _______-_____

Phone _______________     Fax ______________   E-mail ______________

National Slate of Independent Progressive Candidates ◙

P.O. Box 1041, Bloomfield, NJ 07003-9991 ◙ 973-338-5398 (v), 973-338-2210 (f)

Appendix 11


Location of training___________________ Date of training_________________

Do you think in general, the goals of the workshop were met?


What do you think about the pace of the workshop? Too fast __ Just right__ Too slow__

After taking this workshop, do you feel more confident about being involved in a campaign?

Which exercise was the most useful to you? Why?




Which exercise was the least useful to you? Why?




What did you like most about the workshop?




What did you like least about the workshop?




How could we improve this workshop?




What areas would you be interested in learning more about?




Can we quote you? (circle) No Yes Name __________________________


Please add any additional comments: