So you want to run for office?
Good for you!
There’s just one question that you must answer first and that is: Why? And, you need to have a pretty good answer.
For some, the answer is easy because they feel distinctively passionate about their political pursuit. For others, the answer may be more difficult. But knowing why you’re running for office and what you want to do when you get there are critical to being a successful candidate.
Just by running, you’ll have a platform to advocate. You’ll be able to get press, organize people, galvanize, support, and engage people around your values.
Democrats win when we work together. Whether it’s at the federal, state, or county level, or even for nonpartisan city council or school board positions, we’ll be fighting right alongside you should you decide running is right for you.
The information presented below is designed to help you decide if running for office is for you.
What kind of campaign is right for you? You have choices:
What office is of interest to you?
If you’re not sure, identify what’s important to you. Jotting down issues that you are passionate about can help you narrow down the office best suited for you. Run for an issue not a particular office—your issue should lead you to the right office.
You live in a red County, why should you run?
It will be harder if you live in a place with more registered Republicans than Democrats but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run. The way to promote progressive values is through people arguing for our policies in an authentic way. Your campaign will galvanize other people like you in your area. Remember, winning isn’t the only thing that matters. Just by running, you’re holding your elected official accountable. And there’s a pretty good chance Democrats in your area haven’t had someone to vote for in a while.
Why are you qualified?
Write down at least three specific reasons why you are. Be sure to research the traits and qualifications that this office-holder must have in order to do a good job along with your own experiences and background
What are the dates of the primary and general elections?
This information can be obtained from the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections website and the Florida Division of Elections. This will help you carve out the time you’ll need for your campaign. (Important dates are spelled out below.)
How long is the term and what is the time commitment required?
Make sure you are able to commit the time to serve your complete term when elected.
Is your family supportive?
Consider how running for office will affect them and others in your life. Public office may also put them in the spotlight and may decrease your available family time at home. Evaluate your core network. Have you discussed a potential campaign with your spouse or partner? How about your closest friends? It’s important to know if they’re on board.
You will be in the public eye, both during your campaign and while in office. Will you be okay with this?
You must uphold the highest civic and moral standards for yourself and understand that you will be representing your community and constituents. Think about your past and identify any skeletons in your closet. The opposition may attempt to uncover dirt about you, a family member, or your past. How will you combat anything negative that might be uncovered?
What about your career?
Will the campaign conflict with your employment or in any way conflict with other responsibilities? Will it require a leave of absence from your job? How many hours per week will you be able to set aside for campaigning?
Do you know what will be required of you, if elected?
You’ll have to attend more meetings than you can imagine, and you’ll have to meet and listen to a lot of people’s opinions. You might even need to move your residence or consider a second residence depending upon the office.
Are you willing and able to raise the needed cash to win?
You’ll have to make lots of calls asking for money, knock on doors, and raise money via social media if you truly want to win. Are you willing to ask family members, friends, and strangers to donate to your campaign? If not, it’s possible fundraising and campaigning are not for you. To get a good handle on how much money you’ll need, look up campaign finance disclosures from past races.
What is the status of your current finances?
Are you current with your local, state, and federal taxes? Do you have outstanding parking tickets or other debts owed to local, state, or federal governments? Avoid being embarrassed by the media or your opponent.
Do I need a campaign manager?
That depends on the type of campaign you want. Many candidates assume they can run their campaign themselves, but they’ll be too busy with fundraising and public appearances to do an effective job
Where can I get more help with deciding to run?
There are a number of organizations that are available to help you decide to run as well as how to run a successful campaign, however, your first stop should be the National Democratic Training Committee that provides free interactive online training for all Democratic candidates.
Crowdpac (which is nonpartisan) lets you explore the idea of running for office, without having to commit. It helps you test the waters financially and provides good advice on social media fundraising.
Ballotpedia tracks races and the resources needed to be competitive.
The eBook “101 Steps to Victory: Run for Office and Win” is an excellent resource that you can download here.
Other sources include:
Coaching / Training
- Politics the Wellstone Way
- New Organizing Institute (NOI)
- NOI’s Candidate Project: Should I Run?
- Emily’s List: Making the Dough Rise (fundraising)
- Why Don’t Women Run for Office?
- Candidate training for women
- Running Start
- Emerge America
- Ruth’s List Florida
- Emily’s List
- Truman Project
Candidate training for LGBT:
We’ve included important dates and statistics that may help with your decision-making.
Important Dates – 2020
|Presidential Preference Primary|
(subject to change)
|Mar 17, 2020|
|Primary Election||Aug 25, 2020|
|General Election||Nov 3, 2020|
2020 QUALIFYING DATES
Federal, Judicial, State Attorney, Public Defender
Statewide, Multi-County, County, Constitutional, District and
PETITION SUBMISSION DEADLINES
Federal, Judicial, State Attorney, Public Defender
Statewide, Multi-County, County, Constitutional, District
Federal and State Qualifying Handbooks are available at http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/forms-publications/
Candidate Petition Handbook: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/
Candidate & Campaign Treasurer Handbook: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/forms-publications/
OFFICES UP FOR ELECTION AND RETENTION IN 2020
- President and Vice President
- United States Senator
- Representative in Congress District 17
Multi-County and District Offices
Contact your county Supervisor of Elections to determine if any of these offices in your county will appear on the ballot in the upcoming general election.
- State Senator (only odd numbered districts)
- State Representative District 75
- State Attorney (Circuits 1-19)
- Public Defender (Circuits 1-19)
Election will vary by county. The Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections determines the manner of election for these offices.
- Board of County Commissioners Districts 1, 3, 5
- School Board (nonpartisan) Districts 2, 3, 5
- Airport Authority Districts 1, 3, 5
- Property Appraiser (non-partisan)
- Clerk of the Court (non-partisan)
- Sheriff (non-partisan)
- Supervisor of Elections (non-partisan)
- Tax Collector (non-partisan)
- Soil and Water Conservation (non-partisan) Districts 1, 3, 5
Judicial Retention (Nonpartisan)
- Justices, Supreme Court of Florida (only those whose terms expire January 2021)
- Judges, District Courts of Appeal (only those whose terms expire January 2021)
Circuit Judges (Nonpartisan)
- Only those whose terms expire January 2021
What are the maximum contribution limits in Florida? (see 106.08)
(combination of monetary and/or in-kind)
- To a candidate for countywide office or to a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis, $1000.
- To a candidate for legislative or multi-county office, $1000.
- To a candidate for statewide office, $3000.
- To a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge, $1000.
- To a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal, $1000.
- To a candidate for retention as a justice of the supreme court, $3000.
NOTE: The contribution limits provided above do not apply to contributions made by state or executive committees of a political party or to amounts contributed by a candidate to his own campaign.
The limitations do apply to each election. The primary and general election are deemed separate elections. However, for the purpose of contribution limits with respect to candidates for retention as a justice or judge, there is only one election. With respect to candidates in a circuit holding an election for circuit judge or in a county holding and election for county court judge, there are two elections, which are the primary and the general.
ACTIVE REGISTERED VOTERS BY PARTY AFFILIATION
Charlotte County, Florida
as of February 1, 2019