So I decide to run for that seat (IL-06). I received two pieces of advice: don't run if don't have $500,000 of your own money to put into the race, and don't run if you don't plan to run twice. I didn't have the money but I did make the commitment to run twice.
Now in my second run I understand the importance of this strategy. I do have some name recognition, and that is important, but the most important asset I bring with me is the organization I have been able to build and maintain since the election.
I come from a family of small business owners so it is easy for me to see a campaign like a small business. As anyone who has started a business can tell you the first year is the hardest. There are so many things that need to be put into place and so much work to be done: creating a product, advertising, hiring workers, finding investors and getting good advisors. Of course, a campaign is all about people, and usually people that are passionate about progress. The candidate becomes your product, the investors are the people that invest their time and/or money into the campaign, and the workers are your staff and your advisors who tirelessly give of themselves because they believe in, and have faith in our message. All of these are needed to run a successful campaign, and they take time and resources to get organized. Like many small businesses the first year is not usually profitable but with hard work and good planning the second year, or in the case of a campaign, the second run can be profitable. We have seen this in candidates like Melissa Bean and Stephanie Herseth recently.
As seasoned political advisor told me, if I wanted to win in 2006 I needed to start in November of 2004. I took that advice to heart and kept as much of my organization in place as possible to gear up for what is now will most likely be an open seat in 2006.
I have been running with a really strong sense of urgency though since there are strong rumors that Henry Hyde will be given an ambassadorship to the Vatican in 2005, kicking off a special election. I do not know if it really will happen, but I would be foolish not to be ready if it did. So in the next few months we will be running this campaign as if the election is going to happen this summer. If it does not then we will be just that much stronger in 2006. There are many who believe that the Sixth District is the best target in Illinois in 2006 for a Democratic seat.
Many people have asked me to write more about what is going on in the campaign and to keep those of you that are distant supporters abreast of what is happening. I will try to keep a diary of events that will hopefully give you some insight to our campaign over the next few weeks. In the very near future we will have website that will have tools to allow two way communications between our campaign and the grassroots. Our current site facilitates people setting up meetings and coffees that have been the core of campaign from the beginning. Take a look at the current site, and let us know what you would like to see as our new site is being created.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the amazing things you do out of love for our country. Being involved in the political process can be time consuming and a resource drain, but I know you do it because, like myself, there is a strong desire to leave this country, and this world, a better place for the next generation.
Thank you for your dedication,
P.S. I will be around to answer some questions for a short while but then I must leave to attend our first Cegelis MeetUp of this cycle. I will log on again later after I get home.