Just Say No by Jeff Hewitt

By at June 2, 2011 | 4:59 pm | Print

Just Say No by Jeff Hewitt

This excerpt was  featured in the article entitled Decision Time, Politics Magazine, August 2009

Every campaign cycle, thousands of well-intentioned citizens decide to run for public office. Most are answering a higher calling to serve the public, and the decision has been carefully considered. But there are some potential candidates who need to stay out of a race. Here are five reasons to say ‘no.’

1. You’re Struggling With the Basics

You need to know about the budget at the level of government you are interested in plus the duties and responsibilities of the office or DON’T RUN.
At the end of the day most political positions are all about the budget — where and how the money is spent on the public’s behalf. Depending on the office you are seeking, whether it is at the municipal, county, state or federal level, you must have an understanding of how much money is spent and on what services. To a large extent, the office you seek should match the level of government you are most interested in and know the most about.

2. You Lack a Clear Message

If you can’t answer the “why are you running” question, then DON’T RUN.

It is the most basic question in politics: “why are you running?” Any candidate considering office must have a 30 second answer to this question that can be expanded into a few minutes for a basic stump speech. You will refine and polish your message as you formulate the campaign, but initially the candidate should have a gut reaction to this kind of question.

3. You’re Not Sure You Can Raise the Money

If you don’t want to spend your own money or ask others to contribute, DON’T RUN.

A campaign is really just a conversation between your campaign and the electorate. Your opponent also has a conversation with the electorate and the voters pick a winner. The more conversation “impressions” you can project, the better your chances of winning. The problem is that most impressions cost money — for TV & radio time, direct mail, print advertising, etc. The Internet is to some degree leveling the playing field, but nonetheless a candidate for most offices in America still needs to communicate through these traditional mediums in addition to a door-to-door or Internet campaign. So you are going to have to spend your own money or raise it from a bunch of people by asking them personally and directly.

4. Your Electoral Prospects Are Too Slim

If the numbers aren’t favorable, you need either a superior message or significant fundraising advantage. If you don’t, then DON’T RUN.

What I mean is are you a Democrat running in a very Republican area? Or vice versa? Are you running against a beloved, scandal-free, undefeated incumbent? Those can be tough to beat. Now it becomes subjective when the numbers or trends show it to be 60-40 or 55-45 one way or the other. Caucuses, PACs, and the like will consider a race competitive if the numbers are 55-45 or more evenly split. Outside of that margin, not so much. That is a decent barometer, on average, but that ignores the countless upsets that occur every election year. If you have a compelling message and lots of money, the number gap can be overcome.

5. You’re Wavering on Public Service

If you don’t have the fire in the belly for the office you are contemplating, then DON’T RUN.

There are kids in college right now lying awake at night plotting their political future, learning the issues and building the contact network of future volunteers and donors. These “alpha” politicians will make every sacrifice and work every waking minute to win their future campaigns. I’m not saying you have to campaign every second, but the point is, are you prepared to work hard on your campaign? It can be tough to talk to the public all day and ask people for money, so you really have to want the office you are running for. When a candidate gets “talked into” running, it usually shows up in the campaign. Every campaign cycle, thousands of well-intentioned citizens decide to run for public office. Most are answering a higher calling to serve the public, and the decision has been carefully considered. But there are some potential candidates who need to stay out of a race. Here are five reasons to say ‘no.’

Jeff Hewitt of Hewitt Campaigns served on the Clinton-Gore campaign staff managed a variety of campaigns and served as an adviser for a variety of congressional races throughout the U.S. Jeff has developed his experience in managing races and campaign budgets into a unique forté of raising money – more than $40 million for Democratic candidates – and has directed more than 1,000 fundraising events over the past 13 years. Named a national “Rising Star of Politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine in 2007, Jeff Hewitt has worked in every facet of political campaigns and earned a reputation during a career spanning a decade and a half for bringing focus and vision to competitive races.

Hewitt Campaigns 512 940 1065 jeff@hewittcampaigns.com

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