Do you know what the most important asset a candidate can have when running for office? It’s not money. It’s not volunteers. It’s not a winning message. While all those things are important, the one thing I’ve found that matters most to a winning candidate is family.
Family should always come first in your political endeavors.
Yes, I know that totally sounds cliche. But that doesn’t make it any less accurate.
You Need Your Spouse’s Support
I’ve written about this before and tell all of my candidates this: If your spouse isn’t 100% behind your run for office, then you shouldn’t be running.
Why? Political campaigns are simply too hard to do alone.
You need to come home after a grueling day on the campaign trail and unwind with someone who’s as committed to winning as you are.
If you have a horrible day and return home to an unsupportive spouse, things could get pretty ugly.
At the least your partner won’t want to hear about your rough day. At the the worst your partner may remind you in the not so nicest terms that they didn’t want you to run in the first place.
You want your spouse to be all in when you’re running. You’ll need them to be your biggest cheerleader as well as your most trusted confidant.
Who else will know you well enough to lift you up or calm you down than your spouse?
Your Family Must Be Prepared for the Rigors of the Campaign
First, you will be away from home a lot. Even if you’re running for a local office in your city or town, the campaign is going to keep you out and about quite a bit.
You’ll be out meeting people all the time. You’ll be getting together with donors to ask for money. You’ll be knocking on doors and participating in forums quite a bit.
Your spouse isn’t going to see you as much unless they are with you all of the time.
If you have children at home, they’re not going to get as much time with you either.
You may have to miss some games, some recitals, and many dinners. Sometimes you’ll be out of the house before anyone else is up in the morning.
The demands of running for office will do this to you no matter how much you attempt to guard your family time.
Secondly, if your opponent goes negative, you’re not the only one who’s going to feel it – your family will too.
People will tell the members of your family the bad things that get circulated about you. This isn’t malicious for the most part (though with some busy bodies it is) – they just want your loved ones to know what’s being said about you.
Often times family members take attacks on a candidate harder than the candidate takes it them self. It’s important that they don’t over-react and say or do something foolish that can hurt your campaign.
Talk to your family in advance. Tell them that things could get tough. An opponent could say ugly things about you.
Remind your family members not to take it personally and to keep their cool.
The best revenge after all is staying on message and winning on Election Day.
Dedicated Family Time is Vital
Since you are not going to be at home as much and you’re going to likely be facing a good deal of stress, setting aside time for your family is important.
This may sound contradictory to what I just told you. It’s not. It’s totally complimentary.
Your family is the best shelter from the storms of politics that you can ever find.
A completely supportive spouse and children who understand your lack of availability during a campaign, give you the ability to do the things you need to do to win your race.
Without that life would be a whole lot harder on the campaign trail, if not unbearable.
It’s important to reward your family with time that’s just for them. At least one day or evening a week, set time aside that’s undisturbed family time.
Turn off your phone. Don’t check your email. Spend time with your family.
Have a nice quiet meal with the family. Go to the movies. Do something fun.
You’ll need it to relax and unwind from the intensity that is a political campaign. They’ll need it to feel connected to you and be reminded that they still belong to a normal family.
At the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re running, to improve the quality of life in your community for your family and your neighbors?
It should be as it’s always the best reason to run for office.
Your family and everyone else will know you’re so sincere when you reserve such quality time for the people you love and cherish.
Don’t neglect them. After all, they’re the ones who give you the energy and the inspiration to run for office in the first place.