On Georgia’s Morning News with Zoller and Bryant this morning, State Rep. Donna Sheldon announced she will be resigning from her office to run full time for Congress. I appreciate her decision, she’s acknowledging running for Congress is a full-time job.
With all due respect to all the office holders who are running for the next office, she’s doing the right thing. You can’t represent your current constituents fully if you are looking to the next office you are running for.
Most in the consultant class will tell you not to resign. They see you being in the public eye as an elected official is better than “just being a candidate.”
So what’s the Zoller plan on running for office?
First, you should finish one elected term, before you run for the next one. I like Rep. Gingrey, Broun and Kingston, but you can’t convince me there’s not some compromise they are making that will either effect their run for Senate or their current constituents. Being a congressman is a full time job. Sure, your staff does a lot, but the leadership you provide is key. The same is true for state elected officials.
Second, taking a year or two off between elected positions is what the founders intended. I know politics is Hollywood for geeks, but you won’t be forgotten if you focus on your career, your community and your family for a time between elected gigs. I always point to Thomas Watson, whose statue is on the lawn of the Georgia State Capitol. He was a state legislator, served in Congress and was appointed to the U. S. Senate. He was a Vice Presidential candidate and ran for President. In between all of those offices, he had periods of time where he was out of office. Career politicians are a bad idea.
Third and finally, if you are an elected official, spend less time with staff and more time visiting people and chatting with people in the grocery store line. You might learn something. Rep. Rob Woodall is famous for this. If he’s driving around and sees a light on in a meeting room somewhere, he drops in.
There are as many different ways to run for office as there are candidates and no one path works every time. In addition, you can’t downplay the role of money. If you have it to get your message out, you might overcome other obstacles. If you don’t have it, it’s an uphill battle. But that’s a subject for another day.