Political campaign management has become a very lucrative and in-demand field, especially in large statewide and federal races, and a quality campaign manager can help you run a much more professional and effective race . If you’re not running in a congressional or similarly large-scale race, though, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s worth the time and effort to hire a campaign manager to help with your election bid.
Here’s a quick disclaimer: as a former professional political campaign consultant, my opinion is a bit biased. Still, I can’t imagine a candidate making a serious bid for a larger elected office without a professional campaign manager to keep the behind-the-scenes political machine running smoothly.
Scheduling, fundraising, media outreach, all-around problem solving, message development and polling, staff hiring and firing . . . all of these aspects and more can be handled effectively be an experienced campaign manager. The right manager can take a huge amount of weight off of the political candidate’s shoulders, allowing the candidate to focus on campaigning and raising money.
Still, as essential as campaign managers and staff are in larger races, a campaign manager can actually end up hurting a much smaller campaign. If you’re running for an office like city council, school board, or even mayor of a small city, the odds are that most of the duties that are traditionally performed by a campaign manager can be just as easily done by you.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have volunteers that are willing to help with some of the more difficult tasks in your campaign. But an official campaign manager is unnecessary in smaller races, and can even end up causing a bit of confusion and squandering of valuable time.
Large campaign committees that are packed with people of various titles love to schedule brainstorming meetings, and they also tend to endlessly debate unimportant details. Most of the vital tasks that need to be performed in a smaller campaign are easily planned and implemented by the candidate himself, and too much manipulation from other sources can bog down a good local campaign plan.
If someone is interested in being your campaign manager and you think the role isn’t necessary, suggest instead that they take the title of “campaign chairperson.” Let them know that they will help your campaign in an advisory capacity, but that the day-to-day operations and decision making will be mainly done by you.
Remember: the more meetings you are having with members of a campaign committee, the less time you are dedicating to what really gets votes: knocking on doors, making phone calls, and writing letters, among many other things.
If you’re a candidate in a smaller local political race, you might want to forgo the naming of a campaign manager and instead manage the important elements yourself. As your political ambitions grow, you’ll find a professional campaign manager to be much more beneficial in larger races.