One of the biggest things that harms a political candidate’s chances of winning an election is when they start running too late.
But when should a candidate start campaigning? And can a candidate start running too early?
I don’t believe there is really a time that is “too early” for a candidate to start running for office.
Political campaigns are a marathon after all, not a sprint.
Just as a runner who competes in that 26.192 mile race must train and prepare for that competition, so must you.
The more time you have to get ready for your race, the better your chances of winning will be.
When you know you want to seek a particular office that’s when you start your preparations to run.
This doesn’t mean you need to announce your candidacy right away, but you do need to get things ready behind the scenes.
If you’re married, you need to make sure your spouse is 100% on board.
If he or she is good with your candidacy, then you should bring the rest of your family into the loop – especially your children.
You should talk to other elected officials and community leaders, gauge their support, and get their endorsements.
These endorsements don’t need to be announced right then. You can hold them back until the proper time.
While you’re building your early endorsement list, you can also be meeting with potential donors and talking to people about what’s on their minds politically speaking.
By learning what the concerns of your neighbors are, you can put together an initial plan that will states to the public why you’re running.
When it comes time to announce, you want to be able to state why you’re running and present your early prominent endorsements.
This will demonstrate you are a serious candidate who is running to win, not simply to make noise or raise your name ID for a future contest.
Once you’re in the race officially, you’ll need to open a bank account and hire a professional treasurer.
Don’t play it cheap by not hiring a professional to handle your campaign’s money.
A properly trained and qualified campaign accountant will keep you out of trouble with the myriad of campaign fundraising and reporting laws that are out there.
The other person you want to bring on board early is your campaign fundraiser.
A fundraiser will be extremely helpful in raising the money that you’ll need to run and win your race.
Other than the campaign treasurer and the fundraiser, you don’t need to hire anyone else too early.
You don’t need to have a consultant or a campaign manager on board yet. That comes later….if you need them.
Use this ramp up period to meet with and interview different campaign consultants.
Your goal is to raise and hold on to as much cash as possible during this phase of the campaign.
You don’t need to have unnecessary expenses that happen when you staff your campaign up too early.
Meet with community groups, political action committees, and go see the high propensity voters in the key precincts.
Slowly and methodically, day after day, build your campaign organization and your support list while other potential candidates remain on the fence about running.
Then as you head into the three or four months leading up to the campaign, that’s the time to hire a consultant and to conduct a poll if its in your budget.
Because you started early you should have a huge advantage over other challengers in both cash on hand and endorsements by the time others are just ramping up.
This doesn’t mean you can rest and take it easy the final weeks of the campaign.
Nope. You must be working until the last minute when the polls close on election day.
But by starting early and doing a great deal of the legwork long before others starts, you’ll find yourself in a much stronger position to win than if you start your campaign the day the period to declare your candidacy ends.