With Rep. Clark Hall’s announcement of his candidacy for Congress today and Senator Gene Jeffress’ recent announcement, the race for the 1st and 4th Congressional Districts are starting to come into focus.
Hall, a Democrat, is vying to challenge incumbent Republican Rick Crawford, and Jeffress, also a Democrat, is running to fill Mike Ross’s open seat.
Both Democrats may face primary opposition as some names continue to float in both races, but Hall and Jeffress are the only two to step forward so far.
Allow me to share a dirty secret about American politics when it comes to running for Congress: it’s all about the fundraising.
Surely you knew that already, but allow me to paint a picture of what it takes to run for Congress.
Some may have romantic visions of campaigning for Congress, traveling a district by bus giving speeches, shaking hands and working the courthouse crowd. That is not the reality of running for Congress in today’s world.
When you run for Congress, or other major offices, to be successful you must spend 20-30 hours every week in a secluded room dialing for dollars. You call people you know and people you’ve never met, or even heard of, and ask for contributions.
For the candidate, the main focus during the Congressional race must be fundraising. Countless fundraising events and targeting PACs for money is also what’s in store for a candidate.
If a Congressional or Senate candidate refuses to spend those 20-30 hours EVERY week on the phone raising money, they’ll likely lose since they won’t have the funds to compete on the airwaves or on the ground. I’ve seen it happen countless times.
It’s not a pretty picture, but that’s what our democracy looks like in today’s world.
For Hall and Jeffress, just like any Congressional candidate in the country, to be victorious they must get on the phone and raise money.
Their first fundraising reports are due in mid-January of 2012 and we’ll be able to see if they are doing what needs to be done to win.
A recent Talk Business poll showed that both Congressional Districts are extremely winnable for Democrats.
If Hall and Jeffress craft compelling messages and raise the money, they can become members of Congress. The next quarter will set the tone for their 2012 campaigns.