This is the second in a series for those who plan to run for office in the next year or two. And good counsel even if you are not in that category.

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Not all voters are well informed about current events or issues of our time. But they will expect you to be. Never leave your house in the morning for a day of campaigning without making sure you are up to date on what has or is happening around the globe, your state and community.

Smart candidates are always prepared to comment on events, use them to advance their cause, to make news, and be news.

The risk of being ill-informed is enormous. Smart phones are everywhere. Say something stupid, or dumb and you can assume it will be posted on You Tube and shared with the world.

So here are some good habits to get into as you prepare for your journey.

Every morning glance at the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal. Skimming the headlines will give you a pretty good idea of events driving the news. If you are running for a state or federal office, glance at a publication called Politico. It’s coverage of national politics is first rate.

Take a gander at your statewide newspaper, and make sure you look at prominent local publications that are widely read in your community.

As you peruse the papers make a mental note of what you would say if a reporter asked you a question about some topic in the news.

Finally, every community has local columnists or local bloggers that are well read by opinion leaders, campaign contributors, and influential people.

The daily reading routine needs to become a habit before you become a candidate. By making it a habit now, you’ll be like the Olympic athlete who trains for the big event…and most important, learning what you don’t know that you need to know to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

We’ve all seen videos of candidates looking and sounding ill-informed, or downright stupid. They quickly go viral, and they can quickly ruin an otherwise promising campaign.

Last year, a friend of mine took a candidate to meet a prominent billionaire in New York. This particular billionaire had an interest in a treaty being considered by the U.S. Senate. The morning of the meeting the billionaire asked the candidate about the treaty. Not only was the candidate clueless about the issue, he was unaware that it had passed the Senate the day before. That meeting ended quickly. No check was ever cut. The billionaire decided to support someone else.

Next week, I’ll be back with more specific suggestions on how to burnish and scrub your resume, and avoid the career ending mistakes of candidates who didn’t.

running for office

Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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