Skip to main content

How to Run for Office

Entering a race for political office? A successful run is within your grasp.


  • Step 1: Have a reason Put together a platform of your governing principles, speak to prospective constituents to learn their concerns, and consider how your personal experience reflects the issues that are important to you. Then, visit the appropriate board of elections and file the paperwork required to declare your candidacy.
  • TIP: Most candidates for public office must submit a petition with a minimum number of signatures and meet age requirements.
  • Step 2: Form a group Find people to help you run for office. Go beyond friends and family and ask people who will give you objective advice. Hire a campaign manager, a communications director, a fundraiser, and a treasurer to manage the budget. With your team in place, hold a press conference to announce your candidacy.
  • Step 3: Raise funds Host fundraisers and solicit donations to amass a treasury you can use to publicize your run for office.
  • TIP: Approach established political parties who share your views for additional support.
  • Step 4: Identify numbers Figure out the number of votes you need to win the election: Multiply the number of registered voters in your area by the percentage of expected voters, and the percentage of votes required to win. Check public voting records and party registration to identify the districts you'll likely win or lose and those that can swing a close race.
  • Step 5: Spread the word Hold public events, make media appearances, canvass door-to-door -- anything that increases awareness of your candidacy. Remind constituents in areas that support you to register to vote and to get to the polls. Tell voters in swing areas what differentiates you from your opponent and why you'll be a better representative.
  • TIP: If past indiscretions threaten to come out, address them head-on so you can control, or "spin," the way information is reported.
  • Step 6: Stay positive As the vote approaches, stay positive, focus on your message, and, on Election Day, vote for the best candidate you know.
  • FACT: As of 2009, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had spent an estimated $261 million of his own money on his political campaigns.

You Will Need

  • Platform
  • Paperwork
  • Advisers
  • Donations
  • Voting records
  • Name recognition
  • Positivity
  • Political party (optional)

Popular Categories