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Running for office is a series covering everything you need to know to kickstart a campaign. Part 1 focuses on the decision to run. Part 2 focused on privacy and teamwork.  Part 3 was about your reasons for running.

This article is about Part 4.

An immovable force meets…

Well, you are still here.

Either money is not an issue for you, or the current climate disgusts you enough to subject yourself to public life. Or, you are just crazy. Maybe a little of everything. . .

Either way, this is a critical time in a campaign. Like a marriage, the person you choose to go on this ride with you makes all the difference.

Have you chosen the person to manage the campaign? Once you get on the train the most important person to have with you is the Campaign Manager. This will be the person that all communication flows through and someone who has your complete trust. The candidate will not have the time to manage the campaign, there are too many moving parts.

Your manager will oversee the team responsible for making sure you get on the ballot. As I said, the candidate will not have time for overseeing such tasks.

Running for Office: Choosing a Campaign Manager

Your Campaign Manager is the Supreme Allied Commander of the campaign.

That job has the most important function as they manage the candidate. Again, this is one of those areas I cannot tell you who to choose, only the qualities you should seek.

The Campaign Manager should be a person of integrity. This person needs to be someone that can step in and substitute for the candidate and be on the same page. They need to be presentable, articulate, knowledgeable and passionate. They will often be front and center. What they don’t need to be is overly attractive, an Einstein, or a political savant, but they should be above average in most areas.

The Campaign Manager should build the platform and develop strategies. They delegate responsibilities, and assign deadlines for tasks and recruit help.

This is a difficult job as holding people accountable and keeping the campaign running smoothly is no easy task. It helps to have someone with campaign experience, but it is not necessary.

Anyone with the skill set mentioned above would serve their candidate well. The right person will able to convey the message as if they are on the ballot as well. Many times, this is a person who could run for office, but chooses not to for reasons of privacy or lacking the financial backing. Even if they do not seek office for themselves, they should be someone qualified to do so.

When voters get a sense of who the team will be instead of just who the candidate is, the campaign will gain traction. Surrounding yourself with equally skilled individuals will create excitement for the campaign. If voters feel like they can have answers to questions without always having to hear it from just the candidate, they feel like their needs will be addressed by the office rather than only the candidate. It also lends greater credibility to the message.

In our current political climate, the one thing voters feel is disenfranchisement. The manager of the campaign should make sure no voter question goes unanswered.

Running for Office: At the bare minimum

Other significantly important roles that need to be filled are the treasurer, media coordinator, field manager and fundraiser. There are other components needed in a campaign, but I choose these because they are fundamental to the success of a campaign.

Treasurer

This might be the confidant of the campaign. This is the person that makes sure the candidate does not go to jail for campaign fund issues. You need someone with a strong accounting or finance background.

I will end this discussion right here.

Media Coordinator

Your media coordinator can serve multiple roles.

Social media has become a hotbed for political opinions and candidates. A candidates views on current events should be published daily. Therefore, one of the most important characteristics of this position is writing. Not that the sole responsibility of the writing will come from this source, but they should read everything before it is published. The last thing a campaign needs are spelling and grammar mistakes.

This job will require they submit weekly content to news media sources. The news outlets are eager for stories, so you should give them something to cover. As my editor tells me, reporters are lazy. Free press is good press.

Events are another good function this position can oversee. Fundraising activities like luncheons and combined campaign parties are an excellent way for the people to meet the candidates.

Coordinating between campaigns within the same voting districts are an efficient way to run local elections.

A congressional candidate and a state senate candidate campaigning together will attract more voters than working alone. Your Media Coordinator working in tandem with another campaign will attract more people working for your events. It is an excellent method for attracting volunteers. The possibilities are endless.

Field Manager

This is the organizer of the volunteers. This person will form the strategy of collecting signatures to get the candidate’s name on the ballot, work to get out the vote during primary season and reach out in November with one goal in mind. Get the candidate elected.

This person will be walking a lot so choose someone who has the stamina for this.

Mapping the candidate’s district and using the voter data base system, the field manager will contact many eligible voters and ask for their support in getting their candidate elected.

Again, working in tandem with other campaigns will only broaden the support of the campaigns involved. Having one person asking for signatures for two candidates is far more efficient. Having two people gathering signatures for two candidates is exponentially better.

This is another example of where having candidate flyers or handouts is a good idea.

Running for Office: Volunteers waiting to happen

A great place to ask for support for a campaign is at your local legislative district meetings. Here you will find engaged, enthusiastic people such as PC’s and volunteers looking to be civic minded.

I have been successful in simply asking for volunteers everywhere likeminded voters gather.

During the primary season finding volunteers can be challenging as there might be two or more candidates running for the same seat. Choose wisely how you market the campaign.

Negative campaigning will result in alienating the candidate, and weaken their chances if they survive come November. It may also alienate their volunteers and supporters.

The losing side on the primaries could be another source of volunteers, funding and tons of votes if you run on a unifying message and are truthful.

Having mentioned those factors, what type of campaign will you choose to run and what type of candidate will you be?

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Gene Smith

Gene Smith is a Chief Campaign Strategist living in Peoria, Arizona. He is a husband, father to three grown men, Air Force veteran, retired law enforcement officer, and law school graduate. He's currently canvassing for citizen ballot initiatives that involve education, campaign finance reform, and environmental issues. Smith serves as an elected Democratic Precinct Committee person, engaging in voter registration and recruitment.

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