If you’re a first-time candidate, you’ll soon discover that a lot of people are going to give you their two cents about your campaign. The thing is, many of them have no idea what they’re talking about.
Here are five terrible pieces of advice that you are likely to hear, and the facts that you need to remember.
Hire me as your campaign manager
It’s amazing how often this happens. The friend of a candidate thinks he/she has what it takes to be a manager, often based on what they’ve seen on TV. Unless that person is a seasoned political professional, don’t hire them — especially not for a high-level role. Put someone with experience in charge. They should make the hiring recommendations from there.
Do the things that Obama/Bernie/Trump did
Presidential races are not like races for other offices. The news media are consumed by presidential campaigns, but rarely cover races for Congress or the state Legislature. Even the most competitive campaigns won’t allow you to change the broader narrative of our politics, unless you’re running for president. Use successful tactics from races for governor, Congress, or local office in your area instead.
Don’t worry about the campaign yet, you have plenty of time
A campaign is the worst thing to procrastinate on. It’s not college. There’s no extension past Election Day. Time is the only resource a campaign has that is finite and declining. Fundraising will take up most of your time when you run for office, so it’s best to do it now so later you can spend more time talking to voters.
Money isn’t going to win this election
While it’s true that the candidate who raises the most money doesn’t always win, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to raise money. Fundraising is going to be a serious part of your time during the campaign, unless you have the personal economic security to fund it all by yourself. Don’t let some adages about past candidates winning with less money drive you to be complacent. Take fundraising seriously.
That doesn’t work here
This is a favorite of political professionals because we hear it from locals everywhere. The truth is that each state and district is unique and has a somewhat unique political culture that you have to respect. But when people try to dissuade you from using tried-and-true methods of getting votes, it’s more likely that the tactics are seen as ineffective to them personally, and not to the electorate at large.
Dave Broker is the managing director of HSG Campaigns and is based in Sacramento, California.