In January, thirty-four individuals attended the Leadership Institute’s Future Candidate School. Some of them were declared candidates in their state or local races. Others were planning congressional runs and the remaining few had just begun to contemplate a run in the future.
If you haven’t considered running for office, you should. Running doesn't require thirty years of political experience or a few million dollar donors willing to sponsor you. With the right tools and training, anyone can learn to win at LI's Future Candidate School (FCS).
For four days, attendees focus on building a base, raising funds, identifying voters, and recruiting volunteers. The faculty roster included political consultants, media coordinators, fundraising gurus, and even a current U.S. Congressman.
The intensive training also focused on personal and political preparation for a career in elected office.
Day 1: Are you ready to run?
Because running for office means more than showing up to events with a smile and a wave, FCS started out with a session examining your ability to enter a race.
George Landrith, president of Frontiers for Freedom, helped students examine their past and present, looking for signs of trouble.
In the second session of the day, attendees learned that running for a higher office can be a full-time job with plenty of overtime and candidates have to be sure their finances are stable at home.
To help candidates decide if running is right for them, Congressman Alex Mooney answered questions candidly about the role and responsibility of the candidate.
The rest of the day focused on preparing your network and recruiting volunteers to your cause as well as making sure you have a positive media presence on the day you announce your candidacy.
Day 2: So you decide to run. Now what?
So now that our candidates have decided to run, they should develop a persuasive message. Leadership Institute Vice President of Development Steve Sutton worked through recent election messaging to demonstrate the impact proper use of messaging can have on a campaign. Nancy Bocskor reiterated the importance of messaging during her presentation on storytelling, emphasizing communicating effectively.
In addition to crafting your message and sharing it with your voters, you also should reach out to existing groups and coalitions in your constituency. These coalitions may be able to provide volunteers and maybe even connect you with good candidates for campaign staff. Quality campaign staff do vital work to ensure your campaign is functioning efficiently and legally.
Day 3: Getting in isn’t even the hard part.
Winning the race is the goal of every campaign, but what about staying in the race? You can’t win the race if you can’t pay your bills. Make sure you have the budget to remain a viable candidate.
Competitive candidates have had to suspend their campaigns because they lacked the funds to keep the lights on. Don’t be one of those candidates.
Future Candidate School teaches candidates that their number one responsibility is fundraising. Staff and volunteers can get your name on the ballot and they can rally the voters, but only the candidate can raise money from donors.
Day 4: Acting the part.
On the final day of Future Candidate School, Dr. John Shosky, president of Roncalli Communications, Inc, spent the entire day with attendees, coaching each student through communication and messaging techniques.
Beginning with introductions and ending with elevator speeches, students were led through a series of exercises to increase their confidence and improve their interpersonal skills. To be successful, candidates have to be versatile. Different situations call for different communication styles.
Students were given tips on everything from posture to intonation. After drafting rough speeches, Dr. Shosky gave each student short critiques and advice to take away from the training. These guidelines are meant to improve the impression that a candidate will make in the first three seconds of meeting a potential volunteer, voter, or donor.
Those thirty-four individuals walked away from the Leadership Institute's Future Candidate School with the formula to win.
Will they run? Time will tell.
To learn more about the Leadership Insititute or to sign up for a training go to LeadershipInstitute.org.