Running for office is hard. Politics is a world unto itself, and many first-time candidates find it hard to navigate the tricky waters of a political campaign. Of course, every successful politician was once a first-time candidate, and many of them made rookie mistakes and survived to tell the tale.
Mistakes are a part of the game, but the fewer you make, the better off your start-up campaign will be. Here are the top seven mistakes that newcomer candidates make, and how you can avoid falling into the same traps:
1. The Candidate as Campaign Manager
Many, many first time candidates make the mistake of trying to be the campaign manager and the candidate at the same time. Don't – it's impossible. The candidate's job is to shake hands, kiss babies, and raise money. The campaign manager (and the consultants, if there are any) are responsible for strategy and day to day operations. Sure, the candidate should help formulate the broad strategy of the campaign, but he or she cannot play the candidate's role and try to manage the nitty-gritty of campaign strategy and operations at the same time. Find someone you trust to manage your campaign, and let the person do their job.
2. It's Too Early to Start
It's never too early to start! Many first-time candidates are leery of starting their campaigns too early, and try to wait until only a few months before the election to begin campaigning in earnest. While there are some activities that you won't want to start until close to the election, it is never too early to start campaigning, especially when challenging an incumbent.
3. The Party Will Make Sure I Win
Don't rely on the party (whether it is the national, state, county, or local party) to make sure you win. Your success is in your own hands. If the party comes through with money or help, great…it's icing on the cake. However, you can't rely on receiving that help. Make sure that your campaign takes responsibility for its own success. Remember, if you lose, you'll be out of business, but the party will still have it's job – count on your own team to make sure you win.
4. I Need only $500 to Run This Race! (Go here for full article)