Run for Office

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Time to start planning for 2019, with a focus on our Local elections.  Filing deadlines will be around June 2019, but make sure to contact your County Supervisor of Elections for deadlines and filing requirements.

The Green Party of Florida is a diverse party.  That allows us to relate to a broad array of progressive forces.  Our platform is compelling and comprehensive.

But in relating to other progressive forces, which agree with us on many points, the question arises:  “What does the Green Party of Florida bring to the table?”  What sets us apart from these other forces?  One obvious point is that we are an independent party, in particular, independent of corporate money and independent of the Democratic Party.  But at least as important is that we are an electoral party.

We run candidates, and are known for that nationally.  We collectively know election law, and we have hard-won and well-earned ballot status.

In any given struggle, we therefore have the capacity to open up another front — an independent front.  Running candidates is how we do that, either one of our own, or throwing our support behind an ally in struggle.

2019 is a year for local campaigns, state offices usually being up for grabs in even-numbered years.

While an individual Green may decide to run for any office, the most relevant unit for making such decisions is the party local (see “Affiliates”), or a group of people seeking to create a local in the Sunshine State.  For those individuals considering whether they want to be a candidate, please watch the first video below.

Step one:

Call or visit your local Supervisor of Elections.  They are county officials, and they will tell you which county offices are open in the coming year, along with the ballot access requirements (signatures and/or filing fee).  They may be helpful with municipal candidates as well, but a directive came down a few years back telling them to limit their help to county affairs.  If necessary, call or visit the City Hall of the city you are interested in.

These are very important relationships to build.

What’s it take?

As a local, you must ask, what are the requirements for a respectable run?  And what would your campaign expect to accomplish?

As inspiring as it may seem, looking to win in a first effort is probably a mistake unless there are very special conditions to consider.  First and foremost should be to build the party, both getting out our message (and exerting political pressure in doing so) and by demonstrating our organizational competence.

The bottom line of organizational competence is to make the most of the resources, personal and otherwise, that we actually have.  Chasing the chimera of victory when the foundation for victory is not there too often entails cutting corners, watering down our message, abusing volunteers, disorganization and ultimately demoralization.

What does a competent campaign require?  First and last, people!  As a rule of thumb, you need five people with either the skills or the WILLINGNESS TO LEARN THE SKILLS, and utilize them in a sustained way.  These skills are deliberately mystified by campaign professionals who consider themselves some kind of elite and are constantly competing for their next gig.  But there is a vast array of online resources written in plain English available to anyone wanting to discover the “secrets” of a good campaign.

You will need:

Candidate (of course);
Campaign Manager (to strategize and, well, manage the candidate and the campaign overall);
Treasurer (DON’T leave home without one);
Publicity/Press Coordinator;
Office Manager (even if you don’t have an office, someone has to be in charge of all the logistical details).

There is also a certain level of personal competence required of every individual working on the campaign:

Do what you say you are going to do, and do it when you say you are going to do it.
Answer your phone.  Return phone calls promptly.  Respond to e-mails.
Do not abuse each other in the name of “the cause,” but also DEMAND competence from your own people.  There is a fine line here.  Learn the difference.

Collectively, communications are key.  Whatever the size of your campaign, there must be a clear and fast decision-making process.  Things can move quickly, and you need the ability to seize opportunities (news events, foolish statements by your opponents, breakdowns in your operation, etc.)  Speed is a tremendous “force multiplier.”

Mr. Smith.

Political Intelligence is another force multiplier.  It doesn’t take money.  It just takes work.  Read your local press.  If you can, one volunteer should be dedicated to that.  Know your local politicians and their names.  Google is your friend.  How does your local government work?  What are the hot issues.  When dealing with others, don’t just stroll up to them and ask, “What’s happening?”  Know a little in advance about what you are trying to learn more about.  People don’t want to take you through a kindergarten course of what should be well-known.  They will respect your seriousness if your questions show that you have already been doing your homework, and that their more “inside” knowledge is appreciated.

One important thing to keep in mind, when working with “professionals” (who may be invaluable assets to one of our campaigns) is that their experience should be respected, but their experience was likely gained in a top-down Democratic Party environment, where their campaign workers will be working for a paycheck (and will take all sorts of bullshit), and where burning out their volunteers is not a problem since their survival is not required (and may be feared) past Election Day.

Finally …

Whatever you do, you may have to do it small, you may have to do it cheap, but DO IT WELL.  If your town has only a single newspaper, for instance, make sure you know how to write a proper Press Release (tons of online advice is available), and keep sending them out to that single newspaper every week.  If you only have the troops to canvass one city block, then hit every door on that single city block.  Phone operation, the same.  Facebook page, make it clean and updated.  Etc., etc., etc.

On the Bloody Morning After …
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

The obvious focus of any campaign should be the few days leading up to and including Election Day.  Get Out the Vote is the rule.  But we can learn from the fact that campaign professionals are at least as focused on the day or the days after Election Day, when gains are assessed and forces consolidated.

For our purposes, especially after an initial campaign, the measure of success should be to what extent the Campaign Team remains intact, recuperating from their efforts, but strong enough so that for the campaign(s) for the coming year, they will be building on your just concluded campaign, and you won’t have to start again from scratch.

And even if your own local doesn’t run a campaign, you will have the opportunity to build off the campaigns that we have run in 2018.  The experience of one local becomes a resource for all our locals.

With that in your pocket, you have something to present in building your alliances with friends and allies.  Marketable assets would include votes gotten, doors knocked on, phone calls made, and responses from the broader community showing the campaign’s political impact.  “You have an issue you want to run on?  We have a team that can do the job!”

There is much to learn as far as strategy and tactics.  Watch these videos.  Yes, they were designed with much more money and resources than our initial runs will likely have, more on the order of the Howie Hawkins campaign.  But the lessons are scalable.  That means that with intelligent analysis, many methods can be adapted to the smaller campaigns that the GPFL would be running in 2019.

If we do our jobs, the 2019 campaigns can lay the foundation, the campaign infrastructure, required for more ambitious campaigns in 2020 and beyond.

And you take it from there.

Contact Your County Supervisor of Elections
— from the Florida Division of Elections.

Learn the law.  Download this:
Political Committee Handbook put out by the Florida Division of Elections.  You cannot play fast and loose with the filing requirements and proper handling of finances.

So you want to Run for Office has handy tips from Ed Griffith of the New Progressive Alliance.

On Online Campaigning.  Much of their advice entails spending money you may not have, but this is worth a look:
Running for office or starting a new non-profit? How to successfully launch online

An amazing source for researching the Florida State Legislature:
Vote Smart

This newsletter, put out by acclaimed Ballot Access expert Richard Winger, keeps up on independent politics around the country.  Winger is a Libertarian, but he is passionately committed to helping ALL independents:
Ballot Access News

These videos are quite excellent.  They are oriented to larger campaigns than the Green Party of Florida will be running in the immediate future, but they are chock full of tips and ideas that can be adapted to local conditions:

In the second video presented by Erin Fox (MI Green Party), also from the United States Green Party Coordinated Campaign Committee, leads a discussion on Goal Setting for Campaigns.

The next step is to contact the Green Party of Florida and let us know that you are interested in being our Green People Powered Nominee for the office you are interested in running for.

Submit the form below, and we will get back to you.  SOON!