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4 Things to Research Before Launching Your Political Career

Young professional woman speaking on the phone while looking at a laptop. Gives the impressions of someone doing research.

Article by Ed Carter Ablefutures.org | ed.carter@ablefutures.org

Running for office takes courage and determination, but it can also require some research. If you are a person who is living with disabilities and is contemplating getting more involved in politics, completing this research can help you make a more informed decision. Here are some of the essential topics you will need to look into before starting your campaign. 

Campaign Finance Laws and Requirements 

Fundraising is a necessary component of any political campaign in the United States, but candidates are subject to several strict finance rules and regulations. For federal elections, the FEC determines which laws candidates, political campaigns, and their contributors must follow when fundraising, but you’re not likely to begin by running for the US House or Senate. Instead, you will want to research the campaign finance requirements in your particular state. For example, in Colorado political hopefuls must file an affidavit declaring their intentions to run before they can begin raising any money for their campaign.

Understanding and following these laws and requirements is crucial if you want to keep your campaign — and yourself — out of trouble. In fact, it may be a good idea to leave some room in your budget to hire an experienced CPA freelancer to help with campaign finance and accounting needs, so that you don’t have to stress about this task. 

Campaign Team Roles and Responsibilities 

A CPA isn’t the only person you will need by your side to run an effective and efficient political campaign. Most political campaigns in the United States should at least be composed of activists who can work as volunteers and a campaign manager to oversee these “foot soldiers.” Since having an experienced campaign manager can be so critical to winning your election, you may want to begin by hiring this person. A good campaign manager will be able to provide you with strategic and adaptive advice, understand the campaign finance and fundraising needs mentioned above, and manage and motivate your team of volunteers each step of the way.

If you are having a tough time finding enough volunteers, your campaign manager can also help out with your volunteer recruitment efforts. Social media can be a good place to start when looking for passionate and reliable volunteers, but you can also organize volunteer drives. 

Pertinent Public Issues and Legislation 

If you are going to run a successful political campaign, you have to understand the issues facing your constituents. For instance, in Colorado, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is consistently working on several key issues affecting people who are living with disabilities across the state. Access to Medicaid, community-based services, accessible communication channels, and economic resources are just some of the public issues that CCDC attempts to address on the local and state level. You will need to figure out which problems and concerns you should address in your specific campaign. Some of the most common issues affecting urban, suburban, and rural areas in the United States include education, crime, affordable housing, and public infrastructure, so you can begin by researching these issues in your area. 

Political Campaign Rules and Strategies

It can also help to familiarize yourself with common campaign practices. Knowing your chances of winning, how many votes are needed to win, and what the key differences are between you and your opponent can all be critical to organizing a successful bid for public office. Inclusivity is essential as well, especially if you want to reach folks in your community who are also living with a disability. Despite voter turnout increasing among people who are living with disabilities, many political candidates fail to connect with this key demographic. So, it can be very helpful for your campaign to have strategies in place that will reach these voters and other constituents. One way that you can ensure that more people have access to your campaign is to make sure your website is accessible and includes elements like alt text, captions, and user-friendly colors. 

Political campaigns can require some hard work, but the payoff is well worth the effort. As an elected leader, you will be at the forefront of policy and change for your community. So, think about making the commitment to running for office and improving the lives of others. 

Photo Credit: Pexels


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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