Deciding to run: What to talk about with your family?

Deciding to run - What to talk about with your family

In the documentary “Mitt”, there’s a scene in which the Romney family formally discusses if Mitt should run in 2012.

Mitt Romney sits next to Ann, legal pad in hand and says, “We are going to go around the room and get your thoughts. And it’s going to be on the reasons to do it, the reasons not to do it. The pros and cons.

Each family member candidly speaks his or her opinion on Mitt’s decision. They discuss the media spotlight on the family, the emotional toll, and if Mitt’s message will resonate.

Tagg Romney, Mitt’s oldest son, ends the scene saying, “If you don’t win, we’ll still love you. The country may think of you as a laughingstock and we’ll know the truth, and that’s okay. But I think you have a duty to your country and to God to see what comes of it.

You’re thinking, why tell this story?

You’re considering a run for local office, not the presidency.

But there’s something the people urging you to run might not tell you. Your family will sacrifice just as much, if not more, than you will if you make the decision to run. They will sacrifice even more if you win.

If you’re married with children, you need to be honest about the campaign’s effect on your spouse and kids. There are too many good people who get elected only to have their marriage fall apart. No elected office should be worth that.

People don’t usually look back on their lives and regret never having run for office. But many do regret how they prioritized—or didn’t prioritize—their family. Don’t skip this critical conversation.

Here’s a list of topics to discuss with your family before running.

Time Away from Home – Set clear guidelines with your spouse about the campaign’s time commitment. Be honest with your family. Don’t over promise and under deliver.

Ground Rules – Running for office will suck up every second of time you give it. You must set clear boundaries so you don’t find yourself going two weeks without a night at home. Create a plan that works for your family. You can set hard rules about only going to events on four nights a week or keeping Friday nights free for your family.

Priorities – When you are at home, be present. Your family will miss you, so spend your time with them. Put away the iPhone and close the laptop. If you take a few hours to return a call or send an email the world won’t end.

What happens if you win? – Have a realistic expectation of how much time it takes to serve well. Do not guess. Talk to a current elected official you trust about the time commitment involved.

Can you afford it? – We don’t need more broke politicians. Examine your personal finances with your spouse. Can you afford a pay cut if your election means time away from your day job? You don’t need financial stress on top of everything else.

Listen to the candid opinions and concerns from your family. You want to run, so the feedback might be tough to hear. But it’s better to address these concerns now and not in October.


About the Author

Trevor Bragdon

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Hi, I’m the founder of EquipGOP. Every election cycle I meet smart, hardworking Republicans who are running for the first time but don’t know where to start. EquipGOP's goal is to help these local Republican candidates learn tactics and strategies they need to win on Election Day.