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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.

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