Running for office can be a technical endeavor, and while no one can predict all the obstacles and challenges, being prepared by learning from professionals can help ensure a winning campaign. That’s where the 2014 campaign school can benefit prospective candidates and campaign workers.
The one-day school will again be offered this year by co-sponsors the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association, the Montana Credit Union Network, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Association of Realtors, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Credit Union National Association. The dates and locations of this year’s schools are Jan. 21 in Missoula, Jan. 22 in Helena and Jan. 23 in Billings. All schools begin with registration at 8:30 a.m., with sessions beginning at 9 a.m.
The agenda for this year’s school includes topics such as working with volunteers; communication, including using social media in a campaign; fundraising; campaign and finance laws; talking with the press and other relevant campaign topics. Attendees will meet with campaign professionals familiar with Montana’s unique political landscape.
Republican Rep. Jesse O’Hara, a veteran Great Falls-area legislator who has attended several campaign schools over the years, said the training is ideal for anyone looking to seek public office.
“I’ve found them all to be helpful,” O’Hara said. “They just had a fair and commonsense approach that I think all candidates, Democrats or Republicans, could benefit from. … I would highly, highly endorse it.”
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said the nonpartisan school familiarized him with all the necessities of filing.
“There were all kinds of great information that dispelled any myths,” he said. “I learned what I could do and what I couldn’t do — and what I needed to do. I came away with an education, and I felt confident in my ability to run an effective campaign after I attended.”
Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, a Great Falls Republican, said the school was invaluable for him when he attended as a first-time candidate. He said it helped him with a number of campaign basics and taught him the importance of organizing the grassroots. He also emphasized the importance of networking with other candidates at the school.
Gary Wiens, assistant general manager of the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association said, “The schools are intended to encourage people to run for public office. If voters want better government, then they need choices when they cast their ballots, because good government doesn’t just happen. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.’”
Cost for the campaign school is $35, which includes lunch. For more information, or to register, go online to www.montanaco-ops.com, or contact Beckie Frediani at 406-761-8333 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.