Of course, that’s a play on Cubs Manager Joe Maddon’s 2016 “Try not to suck” motto, but it’s amazing how well it applies to local political candidates, too! Though it’s utterly unnecessary, it always amazes me how many of them go out of their way to suck!
So what’s the antidote to this far too common phenomenon? I’m glad you asked! Here are the ten best ways a local candidate can refrain from sucking:
- To quote the late, great B. B. King, always remember that “Nobody loves you but your mother, and she could be jivin’ too.” Ego has killed more suburban candidates than bad messaging and scandal ever has.
- Know why you’re running. “My wife wanted to get me out of the house” is NOT a good reason. You want to give back to the district that’s given you so much by faithfully serving your constituents, right?
- Know your district! The last Republican mayor of Chicago was elected in 1927. There are some tides you can’t swim against.
- Craft a message that resonates with your potential constituents. The best slogans are always short, simple and sweet. “Yes we can!” still gives me goosebumps. “It’s morning in America” ain’t bad either.
- Target the right voters. That means district residents who not only vote in the appropriate election cycle but voters who will likely respond to your magnificent message!
- Be positive! Negative campaigning doesn’t work at the local level. We already know you’re not the other guy. So, please tell us how you’re gonna make the district a better place.
- Don’t listen to friends and family – unless they’ve actually won an election. Everyone thinks they know how to run a campaign, but they don’t. Either read my book or hire a good campaign manager.
- Work hard! No single effort will win a campaign. Voters may kvetch about those “scurrilous politicians,” but they understand and respect a well-run campaign when they see it.
- Be grateful! Every time a volunteer helps you out, someone contributes to the cause, or if a voter simply opens the door, say “thank you.” Gratitude goes a long way.
- Connect! Be human! On a level playing field, the candidate who gives voters that warm and fuzzy professional feeling almost always wins. The inability to connect with voters is exactly why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump!
So there you have it! It’s really not that hard not to suck as a local candidate. It takes a little effort, a dash of consistent perspective and, more often than not, it’s what you don’t do that matters the most.
The problem is, if you don’t know how to effectively run a campaign and you get overwhelmed, if your opponent’s attacks are starting to get to you, if your family and friends are so relentless with the advice that you don’t know up from down, it becomes easy to fall into all ten traps.
These days, with the light speed news cycle, one loss can make it much more difficult to win the next campaign, and two losses could be the end your political career.
So, why take unnecessary chances?
If you’re considering running for alderman on up to county chairman, have a conversation with the professionals at Forward Communication? We won’t let you suck! We help first-time and experienced candidates win elections.