As a candidate, you’re going to find that plenty of people want to become a contributing member of your “political campaign team” and share advice about campaign strategy and what you should do when you get elected to office. When people are excited about a political candidate, they want to share their ideas–and you should welcome advice from anyone on the campaign trail, even if you don’t ultimately follow it. There’s nothing more humbling for a political candidate than getting input from supporters who want to see you win on election day.
The best political campaign advice that a candidate receives, though, is often from a small, select group of advisers who serve as a sounding board for ideas and strategies that you’re thinking of implementing on the campaign trail. This private political campaign team–or “kitchen cabinet” as it’s referred to in some political circles–usually consists of friends and colleagues whose opinions you admire and trust.
The term “kitchen cabinet” was first coined by President Andrew Jackson, who often met in the White House kitchen with some of his closest friends to discuss political strategy and government business. And while you might not necessarily meet with your special campaign team in your kitchen or even in your living room, it’s important that you define prospective members of your kitchen cabinet before launching your political campaign.
The best members of a kitchen cabinet team aren’t always party insiders or people with political campaign experience. While it’s good to include other elected officials on your team, the duplicitous nature of politics sometimes means that you can’t entirely trust other politicians with every intimate detail of your campaign–even if they are members of the same party.
In fact, some of the most valuable advice you’ll receive will likely come from close friends, relatives and colleagues who don’t have much experience with political campaigning at all. To be successful, a political candidate for office needs genuine moral support, encouragement and constructive criticism–none of which are likely to come from party hacks or elected officials with agendas of their own.
Instead, look to members of your own family, close friends and associates whose opinions you value to make up your kitchen cabinet campaign team. Let them know before you launch your campaign that you’d like to bounce ideas off of them in the future, and that you need them to offer their genuine opinions and ideas. If they don’t think that they have the political know-how to help, let them know that you want them to be a part of your campaign team because of their common sense and trustworthiness–not for their political acumen.
Your kitchen cabinet doesn’t necessarily have to be a group that has scheduled meetings together, but it does need to consist of people who you trust completely and who you know will offer their honest opinions without ulterior motives.
So, who will be the members of your kitchen cabinet? By putting together your trusted political campaign team early, you’ll ensure that you have a reliable sounding board for identifying the most effective tactics to use on the campaign trail.