The Winning Formula
Editor’s Note: The following is an adaption of a talk given at a recent AFF-Phoenix event.
When it comes to campaigning for public office, it is never too early to start. You must begin now.
A campaign is like starting a business, and you have to be very serious about putting in the time. Unless you have a famous name, like Goldwater, or are a well-known movie star, sports figure, or war hero, you need to start early to build your name identification. You should join the civic clubs such as Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, charities, or volunteer for political campaigns. This will identify you as a leader and attract supporters to you when you declare candidacy.
Once you are a declared candidate there are several things you need to do to launch your campaign.
Build Your Team
First of all, you need a group of advisors, who you meet with from time to time to get their input. You need a campaign manager. You will need a person to handle volunteers. You will need a communication and media expert. Your communications person will be the most important person on your staff. They will help define who you are as a candidate by utilizing the press, TV, cable, and talk shows. They will look for opportunities to expose you to the public and get your name out. You will need to have bumper stickers, campaign pins, billboards, yard signs, and a good hand out pamphlet which spells out your positions and your philosophy, with plenty of photos with you in action. And you will need a treasurer to handle your money and campaign finance reports. Today it is a serious violation not to file your financial reports accurately and on time. Failure could hamper your success. If you choose wisely, you can leave the running of the campaign up to your team and you can worry only about being a good candidate. Minimize micro-managing of your campaign and trust in those that you have selected. You need to become the candidate, you are the product, your team are marketing and sales.
You’ll also need endorsements from community leaders. These endorsements give you credibility and build your reputation. In my campaign, I got the endorsements of the automobile dealers association and many car companies, the president & CEO of Lockheed Aircraft company, John Wayne, Bob Hope, and Buddy Epson. I tried to get Ronald Reagan’s endorsement, but he wanted to stay neutral. Recognizing that a picture is worth a thousand words I snuck up on him one day as he was walking to give a speech, and my photographer snapped a picture of me standing next to Reagan. There was no endorsement or words spoken, but on the front of my campaign pamphlet was the photograph of Ronald Reagan standing next to candidate Barry Goldwater, Jr.
Practice the Art
Campaigning is an artform. You are an actor or dancer on stage. Develop a canned speech that outlines your positions and talks about your qualities and why you would be the best candidate. You need to develop a position on all the major issues.
Personally, you need to be well-groomed and look good, which means shine your shoes. You must start early in the morning and go to where the people are. House to house campaigning is a waste of time. You need to expose yourself to as many people in one place as you can. That means plant and manufacturing gates like Intel or Lockheed, where you can meet 500 or 1000 workers as they go to work. Then you want to hit the bowling alleys–walk up and introduce yourself to each bowler. Bowling alleys have bowling leagues all day and a lot more people than you could imagine. Then the beauty parlors, work the beauty parlors. Women talk. Then go to the grocery stores – stand out in the parking lot and shake hands, pass out your brochure, and ask for their vote. Have your team book you to speak at luncheons: Chambers, civic organizations, and other meetings. Try to convince companies to give you an opportunity to speak to their employees in the morning before work. I used to go to Sears department store in the furniture section and then lunch in the cafeteria at the Hugh’s Missile company. I believe it is a civic responsibility of employers to help their employees become more involved and knowledgeable by inviting politicians into their facility.
If you do all of the above with proper timing you should win. As a P.S.–you will be tired, you will be maxed out, you will be sore, you will not get enough rest. That’s all normal. You need to build time into your budget to be with your family. The quality of the laws we live under is determined by the quality of men and women we elect to public office. You are that quality candidate with a winning attitude and well-developed campaign. The time is now, start early and you will be the winner.