As an intern at the Leadership Institute and a recent college graduate, I attended LI's Future Candidate School. Though it isn't something I know much about, the thought of running for office has crossed my mind and I want to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more.
One of the best parts of the internship is the access to training programs staffed by outstanding faculty in relevant fields.
During this Future Candidate School a member of Congress joined the list of expert faculty. Who better to lead a discussion on running for office than a sitting Member of Congress?
Leadership Institute alumnus Congressman Alex Mooney (R-WV) came to LI’s Future Candidate School to teach attendees how to successfully run for, and win, public office.
Congressman Mooney’s lecture drew on his extensive experience in campaigns at both the state and federal level. He won three elections to the Maryland State Senate, where he served from 1999 to 2011. Then, in 2014, he ran for and won a seat in the US House of Representatives in West Virginia.
For me, Congressman Mooney’s presentation was valuable in two big ways. First, he gave a frank, clear-eyed assessment of both the upsides and the downsides of running for office. Second, he provided a great deal of practical knowledge about how to campaign.
Rep. Mooney emphasized the importance of fundraising for successful campaigning. He advised 80-90% of a candidate’s time should be spent raising funds, which reflects Leadership Institute founder Morton Blackwell’s saying, “You can’t save the world if you can’t pay the rent.” The Congressman also stressed the importance of having a clear, simple message, and taking that message directly to voters by picking up the phone and knocking on lots of doors.
The part of Rep. Mooney’s presentation which stayed with me most was not anything he said; rather, it was the way he presented himself to us.
He’s a sitting member of Congress, and none of the students at the school live in his district. Yet, he came out to share his experiences with us. To me, his candid yet friendly way of presenting himself was a prime example of the attitude a candidate for office should have while campaigning.
To learn more about Leadership Institute training go to LeadershipInstitute.org/training and register to attend one or more trainings.