How Much Does It Cost To Run For Office?

Attendees of our webinars and training events frequently ask, “How much does it cost to run for x, y, or z office?”

There isn’t a one-race or one-seat-fits-all answer to this question.

The amount you need to raise to run for city council, county commissioner, school board, state representative or Congress will vary considerably based on where you are running and how competitive you can expect the race to be.

Fortunately, you can learn from the candidates who pursued the seat before you.

Start By Reviewing Past Campaign Finance Disclosures

To gain a better idea of what you need to raise for your campaign, find out how much was spent by each candidate in the last election. Campaign finance disclosures from past elections contain valuable information. Take advantage of this publicly available information to frame out your budget.

Don’t just look at the number the winner raised, look at what they spent it on. That will tell you what it takes in that particular race to turn out voters.

If the incumbent hasn’t met much of a contest in recent years, look at the disclosures from the last time there was a competitive, close race.

You can find this information in the same place you will need to look to study up on campaign finance rules, candidate filings and the requirements for holding the office you seek:  the website of the board, division or commission which oversees elections in your jurisdiction.

  • To obtain past disclosures for state and local races, check your state’s division or board of elections. In some states, this disclosure information may be available online and part of a searchable database.
  • For federal offices, you can visit the Federal Election Commission’s disclosure portal to view financial disclosure reports filed by House, Senate and Presidential campaigns, parties and PACs from 1993 to the present.

Get Ready To Raise Money For Your Campaign

Once you have an idea of how much it will take to finance your campaign, VoteRunLead has additional fundraising resources that can help you begin growing your list of potential donors and map out a strategy for reaching your goals.

A great way to receive an introductory primer on the campaign fundraising process is to watch our webinar Building Power Through Fundraising. In this webinar, Rebecca Thompson, an experienced fundraiser and former candidate for Michigan State representative, covers:

  • How to identify potential donors
  • Who to approach for donations and when
  • How to create a donation page and keep track of fundraising activities with automated tools
  • Which fundraising tactics are likely to yield the highest return
  • How to make your ask personal

This web clinic will give you the knowledge you need to kick-start your political campaign fundraising plan today. Watch it now!