Being a Candidate

Getting Started

The first steps to take as a candidate need to start early.  There are deadlines for filing a candidacy, but prior to that you need to ensure that you have adequate funding,  your family is on board with the rigors of a campaign, and that your have adequate time to approach voters to ask for their support.    Dubois County provides for Absentee Voting that includes "early voting" which typically starts one month prior to the actual election day.

Listed below are several steps you should take to initiate your campaign.  Voters, media, party officials, volunteers and donors will all judge your initial steps as a candidate. 

Step  1-   Discuss it with your family.  You need to discuss your potential candidacy with your family.  If they are not on board, your chances for success are slim.  The impact of a campaign can be devastating on family life both financially and emotionally.  Your family will be living in a fishbowl.  Be prepared and have them prepared.  Include them in activities and strive to have fun campaigning. 

Step  2 – Can you afford to run?  When you run for office, your focus is on winning and your job or business may suffer.  If you are self-employed or a business owner be certain you can afford the time away from you office.  If you are an employee, be sure to discuss your political ambitions with your employer to agree on how time away from the job in order to attend events and to actively campaign should be handled.

Step  3Conduct a personal assessment.  A campaign trail can be long and winning requires a level of commitment over several years, make sure you have what it takes to not only run but to win.

  1. Can I win this race?
  2. What do I expect to accomplish after being elected to this office?
  3. Is my family supportive?
  4. Do I have time to give to a successful campaign?
  5. Can I raise the necessary money to fund my campaign?
  6. Do I have people with special skills who will help me?
  7. How well do I know my district?
  8. Do I really know the issues in my district or am I basing my campaign on my own issues?
  9. What motivates me?
  10. Am I a good communicator?
  11. Are there any skeletons in my closet that would be detrimental or an embarrassment to my campaign?
  12. Can I handle criticism and rejection?
  13. Do I have the stamina to endure long hours of physical and mental stress?
  14. What are the qualifications for the office?

Step  4  – Decide why you are running.  What is your rationale for seeking the office?  Does it make sense?  Can you make a difference?  How can you interest people in your campaign?  Candidates should have the three “Ps” – Platform, Passion and Performance.

  • Platform – What are you planning to do if you get elected?  What are your goals if the voters choose you?  Why are you a better choice than your opponent?
  • Passion – Do you care?  Can you portray that attitude to voters?  Are you enthusiastic about getting elected?
  • Performance – What have you already done?  Have you demonstrated in the past why voters should choose you now?  What makes you uniquely qualified to do the job of the office you are running for?

Step  5Update your resume.  Much of a campaign’s written material includes personal and professional data from a candidate’s background.  Therefore, you should update your resume.  Your resume must be completely accurate because it will be scrutinized by the media and your opponent. 

Step  6Have a professional photo taken. People may know you from the "neighborhood", but may not know your name.  A picture helps them put a face with a name.  A black and white “resume” photo is sufficient for the start of your campaign.  Other photos will be needed later.  Digitized photos can be easily disseminated to traditional media and inserted in social media as well.

Step  7Find key members for your campaign team.  Two essential members of your campaign team are your Committee Chairman and Treasurer.  Each will have to sign forms to launch your campaign.  Furthermore, you cannot start raising money until you can deposit the money into the appropriate account.  Under Indiana law, a candidate may serve as campaign chairman and a spouse may be the campaign treasurer.  This may be the most efficient organization.  However, the more volunteers you have involved in your campaign, the better.    

Step  8Pick the right campaign manager.  Every campaign needs a manager.  A candidate who manages her or his own campaign will likely lose.  There are two main responsibilities for a candidate; meeting voters and asking for money.  The campaign manager handles almost everything else.  Choose someone that has lots of energy, is able to organize, is determined, and has experience.   

Step  9Organize your brain trust.  Don’t operate in a vacuum.  You need a sounding board for you ideas and to troubleshoot potential problems.  Gather around you a small group of people you can trust to be honest with you and who you are willing to take advice from.  This group keeps you grounded and allows you to discuss options frankly.  They also tend to hear things from voters.  Schedule regular meetings to update your supporters on your progress.

Step  10Go to a campaign school.  Whether you are a first time candidate or have run before, attend a campaign school.  Learn from experts on how to run a successful campaign and how to be a good candidate.  This will save you valuable time and money by preventing you from having to “reinvent the wheel.”  If you have a campaign manager have her or him attend as well. 

Step 11Write a campaign plan.  Develop a campaign plan starting with Election Day and planning backwards.  Include the key components of a budget/fund raising plan, organizational chart, volunteer recruitment, earned media strategy, implementation timeline, key events and meeting voters.  Understand what it will take to win and set goals that are realistic.

Step 11Raise seed money.  Learn the rules for raising and reporting campaign funds.  No campaign can get off the ground without seed money to begin.  The best way to raise the first dollars is to make direct solicitation calls to your friends, family, and business associates.  Candidates who cannot create a list of at least 50 people to call for money probably should not run.  You need friends and family to invest before strangers will.  

Step 12Collaborate with other Republican candidates.  Campaigning can be a lonely business but it doesn’t have to be.  It is important for you to work with other Republican candidates in a coordinated campaign.  Work collaboratively on door-to-door visits, participating in community events, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Share campaign literature, advertising, headquarter operations, volunteers, and fund raising whenever possible.

Taking the appropriate legal steps to become a candidate

Step  1Establish your campaign committee.  The “Candidate’s Statement of Organization and Designation of Principal Committee or Exploratory Committee”  CFA-1 is the proper form to use to establish a campaign committee.  The form can be filed at any time.  Statewide candidates and State legislative candidates must file the form with the Indiana Election Division.  Legislative candidates must file a duplicate copy of the statement with the county clerk of the county in which the candidate resides.  If the candidate is not yet a candidate for a specific office, they may check “exploratory committee” on Line 3.  When the candidate does become a candidate for a specific office, an amended CFA-1 must be filed.

            Section A – Use a middle initial if you don’t use your middle name Don’t use a nickname unless you are going to use it in your campaign

            Section B – Choose the name of your committee carefully.  The name will be used on all your campaign literature.  Do not abbreviate.  Select your bank before you complete the form.                                                                    Line 31 will probably not apply.   Check No. 

            Section C – Complete information for Treasurer and have the Committee Chairperson sign.  Use the campaign mailing address unless the Treasurer wants everything sent to her/his residence or business.

            Section D – Have the Treasurer sign the acceptance of appointment.

            Section E – The Chairperson of the Committee must sign.

Step  2Open a campaign checking account.  Begin with a sum of money from a contributor or a loan from the candidate.  Take the completed CFA-1 form with you to the bank.  The Treasurer and Chairperson may both want to be authorized to write checks.  If so, both need to go to the bank together and present photo identification.  Each will need to sign a signature card.  To avoid using a personal Social Security Number, apply for a Tax Identification Number for an association by completing an SS-4 form online or by phone.  You can get this form and the information needed by going to www.irs.gov.  Do this before you go to the bank.  Take your Tax Identification Number to the bank.

Step  3File your declaration of candidacy. The “Declaration of candidacy for Primary nomination” form (CAN-42 for municipal offices, CAN-2 for all other local offices) is the proper form to use to declare your candidacy.  Typically you have a month in which you are able file, check with the Dubois County Clerk's office to verify the earliest and last date that a candidacy can be filed.  The form must be filed in the County Clerk’s Office (unless you are a Statewide or State legislative candidate; then you must also file with the Indiana Election Division).  Ask for a copy. 

          General Information – Complete the personal information. 

          For line 3 – check the situation that applies.  If the County Chairman certification is needed, that written and signed form (or letter) must be attached.

          Residency Information – Complete the residency information.

          Candidate Name Information – Read and complete this section carefully.  Consult the rules for political names before completing the form.    

           Certification – Sign and complete the information.

Learn about the office you are seeking. 

Step 1: Consult available literature about the office.  There are many sources of written information about local, State and National government.  Have your children or grandchildren show you how to use Google or other search engine on the Internet.  Here is one fundamental source:

            Here Is Your Indiana Government published by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce every two years (2011-2012 edition is available).  You can order the book online at www.indianachamber.com.

Step 2Check out the website for the State of Indiana, especially the Secretary of State’s site, www.in.gov/sos.

Step 3: Attend public meetings.  The best way to learn more about an officeholder is to observe that person at work.  Open door policy requires that public meetings be posted to encourage attendance by those being governed.  Learn the schedule and attend as many meetings as possible. 

Step 4:  Check out the website of the Association of Indiana Counties, www.indianacounties.org.  You cannot access all of the information on the site unless you are a member of the Association (elected county official).  However, some publications may be ordered and there is some information available to non-members.

Step 5Consult with Republican officeholders in other counties.  Use the website of the Association of Indiana Counties to identify persons who hold the office you seek in other counties.  Call or write Republicans to ask if you can talk with them about the office.  Make a list of questions before you call so that you can use time efficiently.  Ask about new programs or new ways to handle the business of the office.  Ask what issues are important in their community.   

NOTE:  Be sure you have all the legal facts.  Consult the latest Indiana Candidate Guide issued by the Indiana Election Commission.  You can download a copy from the website, www.in.gov/sos/election.   It can be found in the section on Candidate Information.