Strategy

Filing for Office

Filing for Office

Tips, Hints and One Key Mistake to Avoid!

Candidates for all of Minnesota’s constitutional offices, including State Representative and State Senator, who want their name to appear on the November ballot MUST file an affidavit of candidacy for office between Tuesday, May 20 and Tuesday, June 3. Candidates may withdraw their names from the ballot by by filing an affidavit of withdrawal within 2 days of the end of the filing period, or by Thursday, June 5.

Minnesota Statutes 204B.09 subd.1(d) states “Affidavits and petitions for state offices must be filed with the secretary of state or with the county auditor of the county in which the candidate resides.” This means you can file at the secretary of state’s office located in the State Office Building in St. Paul or at your home county auditor’s office.

Here are some filing suggestions.

  1. The filing fee is $100 for both State Representative and State Senator. Cash, campaign or personal check is accepted.
  2. You must know your district number when filing! If you file in the wrong district, and the paperwork is submitted, you’ll have to withdraw your candidacy and re-file at an additional $100 cost. If you fail to file in the correct district and the filing period ends, you’re out of luck.
  3. DON’T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF USING YOUR LEGAL OR FORMAL NAME WHEN FILING! Instead, use the name by which you are commonly known. For instance, if your legal name is Theodore Andrew McGuire IV, but you are commonly known as Ted McGuire, that is the name you should use.  Don’t use a formal first name such as Stephen, Jonathan, Elizabeth, etc., if everyone knows you as Steve, John or Betty. Don’t add a suffix such as “IV” or “Jr”. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD.
  4. While you don’t have to file the first day, there is no strategic reason to wait. Why not file early — within the first few days — so your opponent knows you’re ready to go! Give him/her something to think about every day.
  5. Bring a camera and take a picture to submit with your filing press release. (Make sure the photo is high resolution and remove the date stamp. Have the photo taken of either you completing the paperwork, handing it to the filing clerk or standing with smile in front of the counter.)
  6. Submit your “filing for office” press release and photo immediately after filing. You are likely to get press so make sure the press release reiterates your “why I’m running for office” message.
  7. The filing fee is a non-campaign disbursement and while it needs to be reported, doesn’t count against your spending limits. Your treasurer should properly code the expense as a non-campaign disbursement on your campaign finance report.

If you have questions about the filing process, or for other ideas that influence, contact us today.

47 Lessons Learned in Politics

  1. A successful campaign must have a strong, but adaptable strategy that can be put onto paper.
  2. There is no such thing as a bandwagon effect—people will not choose to cast their vote for you simply because they believe you will win. The reverse is more likely to be true.
  3. A united party is essential for victory. If you have a contested nomination, you must secure the endorsement and support of the unsuccessful candidate(s).
  4. Timing is critical. Use sound reasoning on when and where to take positions and make statements.
  5. If something works, use it until it stops working, i.e. certain ads, messages, etc. The opposite is also true; if something is broken, admit it and fix the problem immediately.
  6. Make sure you message is clear, simple and effective. Successful campaigns will target specific groups with a specific message, but all messages should be easily understood by everyone.
  7. Negative attacks are better left to third parties and friendly media, if possible. You should be viewed by voters as the “nice guy.” (see also #23 and #27)
  8. Do not underestimate the power of radio. While there are flashier advertising mediums, few give you better bang for your buck.
  9. Unpopular national administrations often have a significant impact. If you are facing this challenge, you must successfully localize your campaign.
  10. Perception trumps reality every time. It doesn’t matter what you are as much as what voters think you are.
  11. Every aspect of your campaign should remain as simple as it can be, while still being effective.
  12. Secure the votes of your base before going after other votes.
  13. After securing your base, don’t be afraid to invade opposition territory. If you speak to a group of 100 Democrats, you won’t lose any votes, but you may gain a couple.
  14. What you say in one corner of your district will be heard in the others.
  15. Don’t self-destruct. Always choose words carefully.
  16. Do not allow your opponents charges to go unrefuted. Between the candidate, the campaign and third parties, all opposition charges should be answered before they are repeated and stick.
  17. Use endorsements primarily to compensate for your perceived weaknesses i.e., if you are a white collar businessman in rural Minnesota, secure the endorsement of prominent farmers and blue collar workers.
  18. Do not promise more than you can deliver during the campaign. Your credibility is put at risk.
  19. Know your own limitations and be willing to rely on outside expertise.
  20. No campaign is perfect and mistakes will happen. Decide immediately how to address the issue, keeping in mind that the best option is often to move on and forget about it.
  21. Dominate the dominant medium.
  22. Make sure your campaign is fun. Nothing hurts campaign morale and volunteerism more than boredom or pessimism.
  23. If you are going to go negative, your own credibility must be established first. Negative campaigning will backfire if voters do not find you believable.
  24. Voters are smarter and know more than you think. Provide them with information and a reason to vote for you.
  25. You cannot start your campaign too early. If you start late, you do not have fewer things to do, only less time in which to do them.
  26. Be confident, but never overconfident. Overconfidence will harm your perception among voters and hurt volunteer turnout. “I believe I will win, but the election will come down to the wire.”
  27. Do not oppose every position or statement by your opponent. Choose carefully, but make it hurt when you do respond.
  28. If you do not have a natural powerbase, you must start to build one immediately.
  29. You will never please everyone. This is true among voters as well as your campaign advisors.
  30. If you are a second, third, fourth-time candidate, avoid fighting the last campaign. Every campaign is different and you will need to adjust to the current climate.
  31. Just because you made a public statement doesn’t mean anyone heard it or remembers it. Stay with your message and repeat it often.
  32. Make sure you have an immediate communications system. Know how and where to contact essential campaign advisors.
  33. Be polished in explaining why you are running for office.
  34. Be ready to use late breaking news or recent developments to your advantage, but use discretion. Not all news stories are appropriate for immediate use by a political campaign.
  35. Although you should spend as much money as Minnesota law allows, how you spend your money is more important. A House or Senate candidate who spends $5,000 on fancy letterhead or a campaign headquarters is at an immediate disadvantage.
  36. All voices in a campaign are not equal. Different campaign advisors will have different levels of expertise and must be weighted accordingly.
  37. You need to have at least a basic understanding of the politically charged issues facing Minnesota. Always be able to recite the following:  What is wrong with the state, county, city, etc.?  What you will do to fix it?  Why your fix is better than your opponent’s?
  38. Every step the campaign takes must have a reason. The following questions should be answered:Why is the step being taken?  What do we gain from the step?  What are the consequences of not taking the step?  What are possible drawbacks of taking the step?  Is the step the best use of time and money?
  39. You need to have hundreds of good photos of yourself engaging in different activities around your district. Your portfolio must include a great headshot. More people will see your picture than meet you in person.
  40. Preempt negatives that are sure to be used against you in the campaign, but don’t volunteer negatives that may not be used by the opposition.
  41. Know what your opponent is doing. Keep track of the opposition’s public documents, lit pieces, public statements, finances, etc.
  42. Your enemy’s enemy may not be your friend. Carefully verify any information that comes from a former associate of your opponent.
  43. A positive public visual image is essential. Groom and dress neatly, drive a vehicle appropriate for your district, etc.
  44. Let your spouse/family take any reasonable role with the campaign that they choose. Your campaign will be miserable if you don’t keep the support of your family.
  45. This is your campaign and you have the right to make final decisions.
  46. The only way people will donate to your campaign is if you ask them to. Either you must self-finance your campaign or you must ask for money from others.
  47. Use the words “thank you” liberally. Always thank volunteers, staff, donors, etc., if you want future aid from them.

Adapted from Joe Napolitan’s “Napolitan’s Rules: 112 Lessons Learned From a Career in Politics” as published in “Winning Elections.” Joe Napolitan is a longtime political advisor and a founder of the political consulting industry.

The first 26 steps every smart candidate should take

The first 26 steps every smart candidate should take

  1. Prepare your family for the rigors of your run for office. Specifically, discuss what role your spouse will play in the campaign.
  2. Make arrangements for the impact of a campaign on your work life and financial affairs.
  3. Seek advice from those who have run for office before.
  4. Make the irrevocable decision to run and run as hard as you can.
  5. Be able to articulate your reason for running in 25 words or less.
  6. Begin to raise money. Make a list of potential donors.
  7. Consider the possibility of making a loan to your campaign
  8. Complete a detailed and accurate resume.
  9. Complete a 2-3 page autobiography.
  10. List possible strengths and weaknesses for yourself and your opponent.
  11. Begin acquainting yourself with local delegates.
  12. Find or create adequate space (without cost!) that can be used exclusively as a campaign headquarters.
  13. Assemble a campaign committee starting with at least a campaign manager and treasurer.
  14. Compile a local press list: TV, radio, newspapers.
  15. Take a tour of your district. Make notes of your findings (i.e. schools, senior homes, business districts, etc.) Secure photos of yourself at these locations.
  16. Begin to research state and local issues that affect your district.
  17. Assemble a volunteer group. Letter writers, parade walkers, doorknockers, etc.
  18. Working with your campaign manager, develop and write down your campaign plan detailing a budget and strategy.
  19. Create the simple message that will be your rationale for running for office during the campaign.
  20. Design campaign logo and slogan.
  21. Announce your candidacy.
  22. Prioritize precincts. Look at district demographics and list precincts from best to worst.
  23. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the day-to-day grind. Campaigns are a marathon, not a sprint.
  24. Have as a goal the completion of at least one thing each day for your campaign. It may be big, it may be small, but do at least one thing each day.
  25. If you have a faith, practice it. Go to church weekly to stay grounded and remember what is really important.
  26. HAVE FUN! It’s government. How bad can we really screw it up anyway?

(Adapted in part from Ron Faucheux’s The First 25 Steps Every Smart Candidate Should Take, as printed in Campaigns & Elections Magazine)

You can post lawn signs on June 25 but should you?

Due to new state law, campaign lawn signs can now be posted on Friday, June 25. This is a change from the previous date of August 1. While many campaigns are readying for that date, there are at least a couple reasons why you may want to reconsider.

  1. Do you have the money to purchase all your lawn signs and supplies (sign stands, rebar, post pounders and cable ties) at one time? Lawn signs are one of the major purchases your campaign will make. If you want to run a competitive campaign, you’ll want to find locations for at least 300 (or more) signs in a House race, 500 (or more) in a Senate race. Expect to spend several thousand dollars for signs, rebar, sign stands and the other necessary supplies. Regardless of from whom you purchase your signs (and P2B Strategies has great prices on signs), you will always get your best price by purchasing all your signs at once, rather than on a piecemeal basis. The cost per sign is much less when you purchase 300 vs. three orders of 100. The only exception is if you purchase two or more sizes of signs. Under this scenario, you could buy all your small or large signs at one time and save the purchase of the other size for down the road.
  2. Do you have your locations secured? Unless you’re an incumbent or have access to signs lists from previous candidates, you may not have your locations secured so a June 25 posting is a moot point.
  3. There is a lot of “mowing” time in July and early August and some sign supporters, after you’ve worked hard to get the location and had volunteers put it in, will move the sign to mow. This inevitably causes maintenance problems. Also don’t be surprised if a lot of the signs that were “temporarily” taken down to mow never find their way back to the lawn and instead live the rest of their campaign life in the comfort of a shaded garage. Or how about this scenario. The candidate or sign volunteer sees the sign in a yard one day, but down the next, and proceeds to replace the sign that was removed to mow. Now you’ve got the same problem times two. While this problem can occur at any time, a later sign posting date makes it less likely.
  4. The sign of a disorganized and sloppy campaign is signs that are falling down, crooked, blowing in the wind, bent over and otherwise not maintained. Are you prepared to maintain and police your signs for the additional time necessary if you post them the weekend of June 25? Lawn signs are an important part of your campaign. But they also create an enormous amount of work. If you don’t have the volunteers to do regular sign maintenance, it’s better to wait. The candidate should not be spending time doing sign maintenance. The candidate should spend time doorknocking.
  5. The downside is that if you wait, you won’t be the first candidate to post signs, so you do lose some of the early name I.D. that comes from being first. On the other hand, the DFL gubernatorial primary means Dayton, Kelliher Anderson and Entenza will likely be the first race to post signs anyway.

For more ideas that influence, contact us today.

Why Campaigns Matter

The recent edition of Politics magazine has a great article on Scott Brown’s upset win in the Massachusetts Senate race earlier this year. It speaks to the candidate’s dogged determination — he even doorknocked between events — in spite of the fact his campaign received virtually no media attention in the early days. Moral of the story? In a campaign, you can’t catch the wind at your back unless your sail is up! Is your sail ready to catch the wind?