Run for Something, but How?

Join the Virtual MultDems Campaign Training Session on March 9 To Learn the Nuts and Bolts of Campaigns

On a cold December 2023 evening, in an old Portland home in the Hawthorne neighborhood, supporters gathered for Khanh Pham’s 2024 campaign launch for the Oregon Senate. The crowded room buzzed with the old and young, waiting for Khanh’s speech.

“I would not have run for office if it weren’t for these folks here,” she said and waved her hands at a couple standing nearby. “I just never thought about it until they said, ‘Have you thought of running for office? We know your leadership skills. We know your passion for protecting the environment. We want you to run.’” The crowd clapped as Khanh’s friends nodded at the crowd.

That is the story for many of our elected officials. A friend, a colleague, a partner, and, in this case, fellow activists, recognized talent and leadership qualities. Over time they convinced Khahn to step up.

The decision to run for something often grows from the encouragement and persuasion from others. That is half the story. The other half is getting elected. To do the work as an elected official is one thing. To run for office is quite another.

Today there are more and more books, workshops, and training devoted to helping candidates navigate the campaign journey. For women, Oregon has an Emerge program. The Oregon unions have a series of workshops for candidates as well. 

The Campaign and Candidate Liaison Committee of the Multnomah County Democrats wants to help candidates and staff run their campaigns as well as inform those who might be considering running in the future. Each election year, we offer a half-day candidate training.

MultDems Candidate Training 2024

This year our training will be taking place on Saturday, March 9, 2024 from 12 to 4pm on Zoom. Any Democrat in Multnomah County who is currently running for office, thinking of running for office, or wanting to learn more about how to support a campaign, is welcome to join the free virtual training. An RSVP is required.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Ellen Rosenblum (Oregon Attorney General|
  • Renee Anderson (MESD board)
  • Judith Castillo (campaign director at FuturePAC)
  • Felisa Hagins (SEIU)
  • Helen Ying (MESD board)
  • Salomé Chimuku (Chair, Multnomah County Democrats)
  • Ron Morgan (Democratic Party of Oregon)
  • Marcia Schneider, (Oregon State Central Committee, past Vice Chair 1 of MultDems)
  • Dannelle D. Stevens (State Central Committee, District Leader, PCP)

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Our team identified four basic topics that are foundational for every candidate, so the training will be organized into four sessions:

Session 1: Why Run?
Our speakers — Helen Ying (Multnomah County Education Service District board) and Ellen Rosenblum (Oregon’s Attorney General) — have run several successful campaigns. They will discuss their motivation to run and what you need to think about and share with voters about your reasons for running for public office.

Session 2: Strategy, Campaign Plan & Fundraising.
Two expert campaign strategists Felisa Hagins (SEIU); Judith Castillo (campaign director at FuturePAC) will present this session on the nuts and bolts of running a campaign.

Session 3: Your Message.
Dannelle D. Stevens, a PCP and co-chair of the Campaign and Candidate Liaison Committee, along with Multnomah County Education Service District Board member Renee Anderson, will lead this session. Stevens brings her background in developing presentation skills to the session, and will alert candidates to the importance of body language as well as developing a persuasive stump speech. Anderson will provide advice on messaging and stump speeches. Participants will go into breakout rooms and work on their stump speeches in small groups. 

Session 4: VAN (Voter Activation Network) and Identifying Voters.
Contacting voters is essential in conducting a winning campaign. But, the question is who to contact and how to contact them. Subscribing to the VAN system is key. Ron Morgan, political organizing coordinator for the Democratic Party of Oregon, and Marcia Schneider, a PCP, veteran campaign worker, activist, and former Vice Chair 1 of the Multnomah County Democrats, will introduce participants to this powerful voter registration database.

Our job as Democrats and PCPs is to identify and recruit good people to run for public office.  Just as in the case of Khanh Pham, many of those folks have never thought of themselves as an elected person. If you find someone in your circle of friends, colleagues, or fellow activists that you envision as an elected official, tell them, encourage them, and recruit them! Send them to our candidate training as well!

Additional Resources for Candidates and Campaign Staff

How to Run for Local Office: A complete, step-by-step guide that will take you through the entire process of running and winning in a local election (1999).  Robert J. Thomas

Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking (2023), Medhi Hasan

Getting to Yes: Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton

Article: “Six Guidelines for Getting to Yes” “Negotiators don’t have to choose between either waging a strictly competitive, win-lose negotiation battle or caving in to avoid conflict.”