Campaign Advice: Lessons for All Candidates From LGBT Candidates
For a long time, I have said that LGBT Candidates ( Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender and Gay candidates), tend to be better candidates than their straight counterparts at running for office. It’s because LGBT candidates have to be. If you are breaking a barrier, it is only those with stellar qualifications and incredible drive who get through tough election fights and win.
For the last 15 years I have worked with LGBT candidates at all levels to run for office.
Now, people have woken up and said, “Why are LGBT candidates getting elected?” It is a pretty simple formula: work hard, be qualified, be open and honest, raise a lot of money and you too may be on your way to office.
Here are tips any candidate should follow:
Be qualified. The average LGBT candidate I have worked with is on their second or third career. They have much to offer their community, and have already served their community in various ways prior to getting elected.
Be open. If you can’t connect with people in a real tangible way, you should not be running for office. Successful LGBT candidates are willing to talk to people about who they love and be open about it. If you let people into your life, you develop a level of connection that all candidates should envy.
Be honest. Okay, the honest politician in some places might be an oxymoron, but if you are willing to share with people and bring them into your life, you are more likely to be honest about what is going on in city hall or the state house, about taxes and about issues that people care about. It’s this honesty that we need more of from elected officials.
Break barriers. We all have barriers in our community. People want to see a diverse population—something that is reflective of the world and their communities. Don’t let what you see as a barrier dissuade you from running; it could be your greatest asset.
Knock on a lot of doors. The more doors you knock on, the more voters you will likely speak with, and the more likely you are to win—as long as they are the right doors, but that is another post.
Raise a lot of money. Asking people for money can be scary, but it is absolutely necessary to be successful. People don’t just give you money when you get on the ballot, but know that the number one reason that people don’t give is because they have not been asked. Think of it as you giving them the opportunity to change the world they live in. You need established relationships with friends and family to generate the majority of the financial support you need.
Have an established support network. An established support network is the cornerstone of a good campaign. Whether it is fundraising, door knocking or someone to hang out with you while you do the laundry that has been in the trunk of your car for two weeks, politics is a team sport and you will need help.
Not so easy? That is the point. LGBT candidates and straight candidates win when they work hard. Many candidates have the impression that they can put their name on the ballot and everything will come. The best candidates know that it takes years to build community support before you run, and that everything you do in your private life and how you approach your life overall will make the difference between winning and losing.