You should run for office.
Have you ever considered running for office? Now, more than ever, we need passionate people to step up and run to represent our communities. We are looking for Democrats to run for national, state and local offices – from the U.S. Congress to township trustee.
Upcoming opportunities to learn more
The Main Street Initiative is the Ohio Democrats’ program to train candidates and campaign managers, in partnership with LEAD Ohio PAC. The program gives Democratic candidates and their staff the tools they need to run and win. Check them out below.
So, You Want to Run? Running for Office 101: This virtual event will cover the basics of who should run for office; the realities of campaigning and public service; how to get on the ballot and begin planning your campaign; and how we can help. Click here to register for any of three timeslots:
- Tuesday, January 4, 2023 at 7 PM to 8:30 PM
- Monday, January 23 at at 7 PM to 8:30 PM
- Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 7 PM to 8:30 PM
Women LEADing Ohio: “Pow-Her” to Run: LEAD Ohio also hosts a special version of this 101 training designed specifically to inspire and prepare more women to run and win. You can register for those here:
- Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 6:30 PM to 8 PM – click here to register
- Monday, February 27, 2023 at 6:30 PM to 8 PM – link coming soon
In-Depth Campaign Trainings: Our partners at LEAD Ohio also run longer trainings for the most earnest candidates who want to run in 2023 and 2024. These include a mix of in-person and virtual sessions, comprising 40-50 hours of training over 4-6 weekends.
- LEAD Ohio Candidate Academy: Click here to learn more and apply by January 6, 2023. The first class is Jan 28, 2023.
- LEAD Ohio Judicial Candidate Academy (for those who want to run for judge at any level): Click here to learn more and apply by January 6, 2023. The first class is Jan 28, 2023.
- LEAD Ohio Campaign Staff Academy (for those who want to manage or work on campaigns): Link coming soon. The first class is May 6.
One-Day Campaign Bootcamps: We will soon announce a series of all-day Saturday bootcamps for would-be candidates all around the state. These are not a series — you can attend any of them, and the content will be similar. More information and links to come soon:
- Sat, March 4 @ 9 to 5 PM
- Sat, April 1 @ 9 to 5 PM
- Sat, May 13 @ 9 to 5 PM
- Sat, Jun 5 @ 9 to 5 PM
- Sat, July 8 @ 9 to 5 PM
- Sat, July 29 @ 9 to 5 PM
There are also many national organizations that provide training to campaigns. Some of our favorites are:
How to get started
Races for local offices, including school board, township trustee, city council, and mayor are typically up in odd-numbered years, like 2023. Statewide executive offices (e.g., Ohio Attorney General), state board of education, congressional offices, county offices, and state legislative seats are up in even-numbered election years, like 2024, when there is also a presidential, senatorial, and/or gubernatorial campaign. You can contact your county Board of Elections to get a list of upcoming races.
The rules and regulations for each election are different. Every year, the Secretary of State’s office publishes a candidate recruitment guide for those interested in running for office. Click here to find the most recent candidate recruitment guide. While some offices like county engineer or law director require special training, the vast majority of offices require only someone who is engaged in their community, curious about the challenges it faces, and willing to engage in dialogue with others to address them.
Before you run for office
Deciding to run for office will require you to collect the right number of valid signatures to file a petition to run with your local Board of Elections. You will also have to appoint a campaign treasurer, create a campaign committee, open a campaign bank account, and file occasional financial and compliance reports. Some races will require you to run in a primary in the spring, while others require you to file later in the fall.
In 2023, most offices require you to file by August 2023 after collecting 50 or fewer signatures and paying a fee of $50. However, about 20% of offices and municipalities require you to file by February 2023.
You should also spend time meeting with local leaders, researching your district or municipality, talk to your family and friends about your interest, and attend trainings on how to run a political campaign. The strongest candidates are those with deep involvement in their communities before they ever run. Also, it is helpful to get involved in campaigns and the party as a volunteer before you ever seek office yourself. All these experiences will help you discern an answer to the most compelling question you will get on the trail: “why are you running for this office?”
How we can help
Running for office is no small commitment, and responsibility for campaigns rests with each candidate. However, the Ohio Democratic Party offers many resources to help candidates run successful campaigns.
The Ohio Democratic Party offers substantial training to campaigns, as well as other tools to help you succeed, such as the ability to purchase access to VoteBuilder, our voter database and volunteer management system. We also offer other services pertaining to payroll, direct mail, technology, and more.