Hold on! A candidate’s checklist

Picture1The FAA requires all pilots to conduct an extensive checklist well before throttling down the runway and reaching for the heavens.

It should be no different for political candidates or those who seek to initiate a public policy change.

Pilots are required to file a flight plan, to know the limitations of their aircraft, the current weather conditions and they are required to abide by a myriad of rules and regulations.

Too many political candidates hit the ground running without taking the time to perform a basic pre-flight checklist. These folks usually crash and burn.

If you want to improve the odds for a smooth flight and a successful landing at your intended destination, don’t skip over the checklist process.


Your taxes went up. They didn’t fix the pothole on your street. The Legislature just passed a crazy law. Washington DC seems broken.

Or maybe you just always dreamed of being in the thick of the political ring.


Regardless of your motivation, do yourself  (and the rest of us ) a favor before you take out your nomination papers. Go to a quiet place by yourself, and ask yourself one simple question. Be painstakingly honest with your response.


If you want to DO something, proceed to STEP 2. If you want to BE something, stop here because you might possibly win an election.

Trust me when I  tell you that being a public servant (and the campaign to get there) will take a major toll on your family, your finances, your career and all the other things that are important to you. . . like sleep. The pay is generally lousy, the hours are long, and it is a sure-fire way to make new enemies. Being an elected official is also the epitome of thankless jobs. There are certainly easier ways to improve your self-esteem.

STEP TWO: Know your aircraft

Ok, so you consider yourself ready to lead. Now go back and look at your answer from STEP ONE. What is it that you want to do? Describe your goal with no more than three-short bullet points. This abbreviated set of talking points will serve as the foundation for the house you are building.

STEP THREE: Be prepared and watch for storms

Know the terrain and pay attention to the weather patterns. If you’re planning to run for city council, you should be regularly attending those meetings for at least six months before you decide you can do  a better job. Look at past election results. Talk to lots of different people, and stay up-to-date with the issues. Be aware of your surroundings as if your life depends on it . . . because it does.

STEP FOUR: Follow the directions of the air traffic controller

You need some help. An attorney who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Talk to a seasoned pro who can help navigate the tricky waters ahead. Preferably, this person is not a friend, family member or co-worker. Choose someone with proven experience. Choose someone you can trust. Choose someone who will not be afraid to tell you the things you don’t want to hear.

Of course, there are many more steps you will need to take on the way to your victory. But now  – – – with your pre-flight checklist completed — you are in a much better position to enjoy a smooth flight.


I invite you to discuss this subject and other Pro Tips with me: Contact

Click here to see an archive of my previous Pro Tips



Randy Seaver is a former newspaper editor who works today as a professional strategic communications consultant and campaign strategist.

Mr. Seaver has successfully served as a campaign manager, communications director and field organizer on a wide variety of statewide referendum questions.

He also has proven experience in grassroots organizing for federal policy campaigns and running campaigns for candidates at the local level.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s