Worst Mistakes Candidates Make #2

The worst mistakes I’ve seen candidates make. #2. Failing to First Put Household Finances in Order.

An intense campaign means less time or work, less time to earn a living, or perhaps no time for either. At the outset of a campaign make sure the family budget can do without the money the candidate normally adds to the family checkbook. The last thing a candidate needs in the thick of a campaign is the pressure of not being able to pay normal household expenses, or worry about paying the mortgage, credit card bills or calls from a bank about bounced checks.

And even if you’ve money tucked away, and are ready to put a lot of your own into a campaign, make sure it is money you can do without if your campaign comes up short.

A few years ago I was involved in a Congressional race in a multi candidate field—one of those free for alls in which no candidate started as the clear frontrunner. It was one that any of the contenders could have won (at least on paper). My client told me early on that he could afford to invest $250,000. But as other candidates invested a lot more, and my client’s fundraising began to stall, he decided to gamble even more, and when the day was done, came up short and deeply in debt.

An honorable man, he told me on election night that he was good for the six figure bill that he’d rung up with my company. When after 60 days had passed I called to inquire about the payment, I learned that he was in the process of liquidating some prized and to him, precious assets, including a beloved lakeside property. I also learned that the situation had caused enormous strain in his marriage. To this day, the experience remains a painful memory, but not because he ran and lost. Rather, it is a bitter pill because he gambled the family jewels and lost a few of those his wife considered precious, something she has not been able to forget, and something she to this day cannot resist mentioning at every opportunity.

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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.

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