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Essential Advice for Potential Candidates

                                      (If you’ve announced this info is still important)


While you are still deciding to run:

Calculate the Optimal Republican Voting Strength (ORVS) for your district. If the ORVS is over 55% you will probably win.  If the ORVS is below 46% don't run as you have less than one chance in thirty of winning. ORVS will usually tell you within six percent what you would get running a strong campaign for an open seat. Get the manual on Targeting from your County Chairman to learn how to calculate ORVS and what it means.

  • Learn about your district
    Calculate the ORVS for each precinct.
  • Drive through the district.
  • Try to understand why the ORVS in each precinct is what it is.
  • Why did some of our Republican candidates, relative to each other, do well or poorly in the last primary and general election?
  • What were the characteristics of the Republican candidates who did the best? The worst? 
  • How well do your characteristics fit in different precincts? 
  • Talk to each Precinct Chairman about the voters in their district.
  • Why do you think you can win?

Assess yourself

  • What civic leadership experiences have prepared you for this race? 
  • Does this race make sense for you and your family?
  • Does it fit into your career development?
  • Are you financially able to campaign for a year and possibly lose?
  • Does your family enthusiastically support you?
  • Is there anything in your past you don't want to be made public?
  • Get a copy of your credit report and driving record and a criminal and civil background check.

Talk to the Party Leadership

  • Do they think you can win the district?
  • Are they enthused about your candidacy?
  • How will they help your campaign?
  • How does your race fit into their overall strategy?
  • Do they see your race as building the Republican Party or hurting other races that may be more winnable than yours?

Talk to potential supporters

  • Ask them, "If I run for office will you support me?
  • How much time will you give my campaign?
  • How much money will you contribute?
  • Make it clear to people that this race would be a major sacrifice for you and you won't run unless you are pledged enough support to run a strong race.
  • Once you publicly announce your candidacy you lose your bargaining power to get support.

Attend a campaign management school

  • You will get a great sense of what candidates do in a campaign.
  • You will meet dozens of other candidates.
  • Contact the Republican Party of Texas to get the date of the next Candidate and Campaign Management School in Austin.

Speak to Republican officeholders in positions similar to the one you seek.

  • How did they get elected?
  • Do they enjoy their work?
  • What issues did they run on?
  • What can they tell you about the duties of the office you seek?
  • What do they believe will be important issues in your race?

Be able to explain to voters why they should vote for you.

  • Why are you running for office?
  • Why should I vote for you?
  • Prepare a statement, not to exceed fifty words, that explains why someone should vote for you. This statement is your core campaign message. At the most it will contain two or three themes. You will repeat this message thousands of times. If you have no message you have no campaign.

If running for office "makes sense" after you've taken the above steps you will probably get close to ORVS and run a good campaign. You should run for office.

 Before you announce that you are a Candidate:

First, before you raise or spend one penny on your campaign you must file a designation of campaign treasurer. In fact you cannot even announce your candidacy until you have filed this form. Check with your county party to get All the Forms and Rules you will need.

Second, don't announce until you are ready.
Feeding speculation about the possibility of your candidacy to the media may make you feel important. But it also gives your opponent several weeks or months of advance warning about you. This is usually not a good idea.

Third, you must know why you are running and what qualifications you have for this office. You must know the job duties of this office and why you can do them better than your opponent.

You must be knowledgeable on the issues affected by this office. No one expects you to be an expert at the office you are running for. But the greatest mistake most candidates make is speaking out before they are ready. Making promises you later need to retract, taking stands on issues you don't understand, and not being knowledgeable about the office you seek, are common early errors that can hurt your campaign.

Fourth, secure pledges of support before you announce
Once your candidacy is public, you lose your bargaining power to get support. The people you visit before you announce will feel closer to you. They will see themselves as friends, confidants and advisrs as part of an inner circle, a band of brothers and sisters responsible for your candidacy. The people you see after you announce will see you as another candidate wanting money.

Fifth, visit opinion leaders
This includes all Precinct Chairman and local leaders of the Republican Party. Treat your County Chairman with the respect he/she deserves. Even if they do not actively support you, and party officials are supposed to be neutral before the primary, your visit will have much greater impact before you announce your candidacy than after for the same reasons given above. Party leaders don't like to be blind sided. They do like to feel candidates appreciate the extremely long and hard work of party building which makes it possible for them to win. If you win it will be because you stand on the shoulders of others.

Sixth, start planning your campaign
If you have a consultant, demand a WRITTEN campaign plan from him or her.  If you do not have a consultant or will not have the funds to hire one, TFRO can help you write a plan. 

Develop realistic vote goals.

  • What strategy and tactics will accomplish those goals?
  • How will you pay for implementing the strategy and tactics necessary to win? What is your campaign message?
  • How will you announce your candidacy?

Talk to a consultant to help you write a campaign plan and make sure you are ready for your announcement.

"Public service is the highest calling. In a few years you will be dead. On your dying day, do not look back and realize that you have never really lived. You can only consume so much food, sex, housing, clothing, travel, electronic toys, and entertainment before they count as nothing. Be part of something greater than yourself! Open yourself to the noble passions of our age. Leave a legacy. Life is short. Texas is long."


Texas Federation for Republican Outreach
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