Why Are You Running for Office?

Uncategorized Sep 08, 2020

The most important question to be able to answer during a campaign is why you’re actually running for office.

Whether or not you’re being asked this question directly, your ability to answer this question with clarity and confidence will be paramount to your campaign’s direction and can lead to your success and failure.

Far too many candidates seem to be caught flat-footed when I ask them why they’re running. Or they have a poor reason like “this is a logical next step in my career” or “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

The amazing thing is that veteran candidates and officeholders and first-time candidates all seem to struggle with this basic question.

If you don’t believe me, simply recall this infamous exchange between Roger Mudd and Senator Ted Kennedy that is still chronicled 35 years after his failed bid for the Presidency.

The key to your response is to be confident, honest and forthright.

The answer to “why you’re running” should help shape your overall campaign messaging.

The answer to that central question will guide and direct your strategy and help answer other important strategic questions.

  • Are you running for city council because you wanted your potholes filled and no one would listen?
  • Are you running for school board because you’ve noticed a difference in the level of programs offered from your oldest child to your youngest child?
  • Did you like how your retiring state senator represented your district and want to continue their style of service at the state capitol?
  • Are you fed up and can’t take it anymore?

Whatever your reason, it is a critical starting point for your potential candidacy. It will help you clearly articulate your desire and drive to potential voters.

The answer to this benchmark question isn’t the only thing your campaign should be talking about but it will give voters an insight to who you are and what motivations you have in seeking public office.

Additionally, the answer to why you’re running for office should permeate your campaign’s communications.

Voters shouldn’t have to guess your motives and intentions. They should be clear.

Honestly answering this question before you move forward will be good guidance to consider if you’re seeking public office for the right reasons or if you are even seeking the right office.

My contention is that most people seek public service for the right reasons.

Remembering those reasons will serve you well from the day you first announce your candidacy to the day you leave office.


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