Last week, we talked about how to scrub and burnish your resume before you run for office. This week we’ll talk about something that should be obvious too all candidates, but is often ignored to their detriment. The way to look, sound and act in public. As you prepare to run for office, it behooves you to get into the habit of looking the part.

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People judge you by the way you look before you say a single word. They make judgments about your IQ, your character, your integrity, your leadership skills based on the clothes you have on your back. If you are serious about running, get in the habit of dressing the part…clothes that are clean, clothes that fit, and if you are running for federal office, suits and skirts that make people notice you. We call it your uniform. Don’t leave home without it.


I mention this because of the countless times I have seen candidates who look like slobs. It’s hard for people to imagine you in office if you don’t look the part. A couple years ago I saw a candidate for office receive an unexpected invitation to speak at a picnic. He had not expected to speak, so he had shown up at the picnic wearing baggy shorts, an ill-fitting t-shirt and no socks. As he spoke, someone took a picture, which was reprinted in a hit piece that arrived in mail boxes the day before the election. And a man who was expected to win in a landslide lost because he looked like a degenerate.

That kind of mistake isn’t limited to first time candidates. I once watched a Member of Congress walk a 4th of July parade looking like a bum. He lost votes along the entire route.

When you are in public, be mindful not only of your dress, but comportment and demeanor as well. Never get into an argument. Never raise your voice in anger. Never lose your temper. Even in the face of adversity, watch your language. Even if a member of your staff has made a stupid mistake, never berate them in public. Cell phones are everywhere. And if you look or act like a jerk someone will record it, and your would-be constituents will be watching it on YouTube.

Next week, I’ll be back with more on essential steps to preparing to run for office.

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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