As I posted in two previous diaries, you can run a successful campaign on little money depending on volunteers. You do need money, though; and you do need to start early.
Dealing with time and money after the jump.
>The earlier diaries were:
Larger geographic regions
Since this sort of campaign builds its volunteer base on the work of other volunteers,
starting early is critical. However early you start, you'll wish you had started earlier. The problem is that most people don't think about politics until the campaign has well begun. So pray for a primary opponent. If your candidate is Smith and the incumbent is Jones, then you can get your message out and your campaign organised while running against Brown.
The thing to realise is that you're not really running against Brown. Never go negative on your primary opponenet. (This deals with my picture of what the situration is in the campaigns I imagine; I've dealt with many campaigns where the Democratic primary is the real election.)
If Brown goes negative against Smith, someone should go to his campaign director and point out that Smith is bringing many people into his campaign who were previously uninvolved in politics; they dislike Jones, and are getting to dislike her more. They are lkely to support the winner of the primary, but not if the winner is someone who has been negative about the man who has aroused their enthusiasm.
The campaign, even the primary campaign, can be phrased as "Jones has been a disaster for the country and for this didtrict, and Smith is the man to replace him."
Illinois has a rule that a candidate must present "nominating petitions" with a certain number of signatures to participate in the primary: I'm told that only rare states have this requirement. If your state does, then take this opportunity to reach as many voters as possible to present your candidate's position. It is a great time to get your positions out and to find how some of your volunteers perform. If a guy takes ten sheets for petitions, and turns in one sheet partially filled out, then he might not do all he promises in the campaign, either.
Anyway, start as early as you can get teh attention of the voters. Use every opportunity to gather more volunteers.
You don't need as much money as your opponent is going to spend, but you do need some. The first need is for a campaign ofice. Maybe you need subsidiary offices if the district is too large to reach easily from one. The subsidiary offices can be in someone's garage or basement, but the main office must be a rented business office with lots of phone lines. (These are usually installed after the space is rented.)
The second need is for printing the main brochure. It should be reasonably small; most voters won't read much. When you're working on a low budget the temptation is to print only a fraction of the brochures you need at the beginning. After all, most of them are sitting around in volunteers' homes the first half of the campaign. But the brochures sitting around in the precinct captain's house are reminding him to go out and call on his neighbors; if you give him 10% of what he ultimately needs, he is less likely to do 10% of the calling in the first week thatn to look at the brochures he has and say, "I can do that in the last week of the campaign; I'll wait 'til then to start." Similarly, the packets of campaign brochures for Precinct 13 sitting in the area chair's house reminds him that he hasn't identified a precinct captain for precinct 13.
On the election day, you'll need a team in every precinct. Which means that you'll need some back-up when the woman who's scheduled for precinct 6 from morning to noon can't get off work and teh man who's scheduled for precinct 12 from 6 p.m. until closing has to take his chind to the doctor. I rcommend having back-ups ready at a lower level than the campaign itself - perhaps the township level.
Then comes the election-night party. The candidate has to show up. He should have a victory speech and a concession speech both written. He shouldn't drink at all that night; adreniline will make him drunk enough.
After the campaign is over, somebody has to collect all the materials and records of the campaign. Who worked for you? who expressed interest. You want to thank each person for his work -- the candidate should sign those letters. You also want to keep those recoreds for teh next campaign. Starting is a bitch, and you don't want to do it twice.
If you don't have the money to pay for that mailing, ask the state party for it. "We have campaigners who worked for a Democratic candidate for the first time; do you want us to lose those records?"