Each year I come across individuals who flirt with the notion of running for public office.  Some of these individuals go to great lengths to fulfill their curiosity and attend workshops, leadership schools, candidate training, and finally they contact their local political party (and clubs).  Other individuals decide to work on political campaigns to further expose themselves to the political inner circle, and network within a closed group (most of the time these individuals end-up consultants, bloggers, and journalist).

It is a fact that the political inner circle is a closed group, and these groups actively recruit candidates each year.  In order to attract the attention of the inner circle, a candidate must carry the three basic (and much needed) political elements:  Talent, Money, and Time.  These elements are simple, and they are not mutually exclusive (to each other).  One candidate can have two of the three elements and be competitive (or one of three), while the other candidate can have all three elements and be a disaster.

The older political generation identified Talent in two parts:  his or her profession, and the ability to communicate (Profession and Communication).  A candidate’s profession at one time was crucial to running for public office.  The candidate would have been able to relate his or her work/profession to the reason they were running.  For example, if a doctor was running for State Senate and his/her main reason was to improve healthcare in our state.  The insiders would consider this individual a solid candidate.

Money is a factor in all political races (from District Leader to US Senate).  The ability for a candidate to fundraise is crucial to the survival of the candidate (not only for the year they are running, but for their future in politics).  Most often, candidates are indirectly asked to self-fund their campaigns.  In fact, a self-funded campaign can be beneficial, however, most of the time self-funded campaigns are destructive and result in a mountain of consultant debt for the candidate.  The ability to fundraise small dollar amounts is very important (only if that donation comes from your district).  Consider each small dollar donation a vote for you in the general or primary election.  You can receive thousands of donations from outside of your district (election law does not prohibit this action), however, the more time you spend outside of your district the less your voice will be heard (this may affect your ability to gain votes if you are first time candidate).

The time an individual has to campaign should not be confused with the time an individual can contribute to the system.  The “system” in this case is the cooperation of the political party, and the work the individual can help to increase their agenda.  Some candidates spend years working for the political party:  carrying petitions, recruiting other candidates, performing phonebank activity, becoming assigned poll-workers, and joining political clubs.  Usually these individuals, who take this route, are the ones who lack the first two elements (Talent and Money).  Sometimes, candidates are used to fight a hidden agenda, such as siding with a group for control of the political party (during a reorganization year).  Either way, the most loyal of the bunch will often secure the party’s nomination.

Talent, Money and Time are the first things to consider when running for public office.  Every candidate that has been asked to run for public office has been identified to having at least one of these elements.  Candidates who are not recruited and find themselves on the ballot have a tougher road to winning (not impossible to see this kind of candidate win, but the odds are against them).

Eric Cordova  /  @EricCnyc212