Running for Office FAQ

If you have a passion for economic and social justice and the skills to lead the fight, the progressive movement needs you to run for office to ensure real change for the future.

Running for office is an important decision. Choosing a career in public service is an honorable decision made with careful survey of your skills, personal life and the political environment you'll be running in.

This FAQ will help you learn the broad strokes of what it takes to run for office and build a solid campaign. For more detailed information, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook or contact us to help you assess your candidacy.

What are Progressive Majority's issue areas?
How should I prepare to run?
Where can I find the rules, requirements and deadlines for running for office?
What is a campaign's timeline? How soon should I start campaigning?
How do I motivate supporters?
How do I fund my campaign
How do I craft a solid campaign message?
Who do I need on my campaign staff?

What are Progressive Majority's issue areas?

Progressive Majority's mission is to elect progressive leaders who are committed to principles and their ability to champion a broad progressive agenda. Specifically, we help elect progressive candidates who will lead the fight to:

  • Protect worker's rights
  • Protect civil rights
  • Ensure access to affordable health care
  • Invest in quality education
  • Protect our environment
  • Secure reproductive freedom

To learn more about the progressive issues we champion, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook.

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How should I prepare to run?

As you get ready to start your campaign, you need to do a self-assessment and answer honestly the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to run?
  2. Is there a local issue that spurred you to action? Are you concerned about the direction of the country?

  3. What experience do you bring to the table?
  4. Is it 10 years running a small business or your experience raising a family and making ends meet? What experience do you have that will translate to a career in public service?

  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Take a look at the positives and negatives of your candidacy and make decisions early on that will shine a light on your strengths and help you overcome your weaknesses.

  7. Are you prepared?
  8. Campaigning and being in public service not only affects your community but also your family and personal life. Is this the right time for you to run? Does your family support your decision to run for office? Are you ready to ask friends and family for help and, yes, even money? What about your day job - what sacrifices will you have to make there?

Part of the campaign services Progressive Majority provides is helping you through the decision-making process. Other assessments you'll need to do are a Political Landscape Assessment, Opposition and Issue Research and familiarizing yourself with campaign rules, requirements and deadlines.

Contact us today to get the help you need to run for office.

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Where can I find the rules, requirements and deadlines for running for office?

Visit our Target States page to find links to your Secretary of State's website to get important rules, requirements and deadlines to run for office.

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What is a campaign's timeline? How soon should I start campaigning?

Below is a summary of the five phases of a campaign

Phase One: Assessment and Preparation

18 to 9 months out

In this phase, you will do a a comprehensive Self-Assessment and Political Landscape Assessment to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign. You will also need to do Opposition and Issue Research and familiarizing yourself with campaign rules, requirements and deadlines.

Phase Two: Staffing, Planning and Budgeting

9 to 6 months out

The motto for this phase is "plan, plan, plan." By the end, you will have a comprehensive campaign plan that includes everything from fundraising and budgets to developing a solid campaign message and voter outreach.

Phase Three: Fundraising and Voter Contact

6 to 4 months out

This is the time where you'll start building momentum and buzz around your campaign. The bulk of this phase is dedicated to fundraising and reaching out to voters.

Phase Four: Earned Media, Voter Contact and Mobilization

2 months to Election Day

This is where the excitement of campaigning happens - get out the vote, constant fundraising, door knocking, phone banking and the final step - Election Day!

Phase Five: Preparing for your next victory

Day after election

What happens after election day? This phase is dedicated to keeping those supporters you worked hard to motivate and staying in office to continue making progressive change!

Download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbookto get the full explanations of each phase and worksheets to help you develop each phase of your campaign.

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How do I motivate supporters?

There are three important parts to your campaign plan that will help you find and motivate voters: Voter Targeting, Voter Contact, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV.

Voter Targeting

Voter Targeting ensures that the voters you spend resources to reach are the most likely to vote - and vote for you. Voter Targeting includes:

  • Calculating your vote goal
  • Determining who your base voters are and who swing voters are
  • Learning what the Democratic Performance Index (DPI) is in your district

Voter Contact

The most effective Voter Contact strategy is always one that puts you in personal contact with voters. Often that includes door-knocking, phone banking, and direct mail.

GOTV

GOTV efforts make sure your voters come out on Election Day. Your campaign will move into GOTV mode the final week of the campaign and your GOTV plan will include all of the following:

  • Absentee ballots
  • GOTV calls
  • Poll watchers
  • Flushers
  • Rides to the polls
  • Visibility

To get more information on this phase, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook.

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How do I fund my campaign?

Getting the funds to fuel a campaign sounds tough, but is actually much easier than you'd expect. In order to raise enough money, thought, you'll need a fundraising plan. A solid fundraising plan includes:

  • Goals - how much money do you need to fund your entire campaign?
  • Targeted donors
  • Fundraising tools like events, house parties and direct mail
  • Timeline with benchmarks
  • Staff and organization
  • Systems to keep tabs on your progress and accountability
  • Campaign finance laws

For help on how to develop and implement these strategies, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook.

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How do I craft a solid campaign message?

A compelling campaign message will be the guiding theme of your campaign. It will convey the reason you're running, why you're the best person for that office and what you will do to improve the lives of your community when you're elected.

The message will help develop everything like your stump speech, campaign slogan and your website.

One of the best tools to help craft your message is the Tully Message Box, created by Paul Tully.

What we're saying about us What the opposing campaign is saying about itself
What we're saying about our opponent What the opposing campaign is saying about us

For help on crafting your message and an sample of the Tully Message Box, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook.

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Who do I need on my campaign staff?

State and local campaigns staffing can vary from online one campaign manager to a full campaign team. Below is a list of campaign staff you'll need to consider hiring:

  • Campaign manager
  • Fundraiser
  • Press secretary
  • Field manager
  • Scheduler/assistant
  • Researcher
  • Volunteer coordinator

In addition to a staff, you'll need a volunteer staff and plan to recruit volunteers to help with each phase of your campaign plan.

To get more information on staff roles and how to recruit volunteers, download the Progressive Majority Candidate Handbook.

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