People, Planet & Peace
The Massachusetts Affiliate of the Green Party of the United States
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Campaign FAQ's

“Frequently Asked Questions” about Campaigning for Public Office

Introduction

We have written these Frequently Asked Questions to guide and inform party members who are running for office in Massachusetts.  These FAQs reflect the experience of former candidates and should be especially useful for first-time candidates.  Feedback and additional information is welcome.  If you have additional questions, send them to us and we will try to find an answer for you.

         - The Candidate Development and Legal Committee  (CDLC@green-rainbow.org)


 

BASIC CAMPAIGN QUESTIONS

Q: Should I run?

A: Many things have to be considered, including your personal interests, your qualifications, the time you can devote to the campaign, your ability to inspire volunteers, the fundraising required, the opportunities for building a local GRP chapter, the vulnerability of any incumbent, and other factors that will determine your vote-getting success. The CDLC believes that a race for state House of Representatives is the largest race that can be won with a low budget "shoe leather" campaign involving mainly personal contacts by a hard-working candidate. Larger races require substantial fundraising, a more professional campaign staff, and an intensive media effort. Still, a race in which you don't win the office can be a valuable stepping stone to future success since it lets you build up a volunteer base, cultivate a donor list, and gain solid campaign experience. The CDLC can offer assistance in assessing the prospects for your potential campaign.

 

Q: How do I know I'm running for the right office?

A: Talk to someone currently serving in that office: what do they like about it? What do they dislike? If they were going to run again, what would they do differently? What would they do the same?

 

Q: What is the first thing I should do to organize my campaign?

A: Normally, the first step is to recruit a campaign Treasurer. The candidate cannot serve as Treasurer. Once you have a Treasurer you should file to create a campaign committee. Then you should open up a bank account that can receive and disburse money. It is a violation of campaign finance laws to "commingle" funds by depositing campaign donations into your personal bank account (CFR 102.15).

 

Q: What is the distinction between state and federal races?

A: A campaign committee must operate under either state or federal rules, depending on which office is being sought. For federal campaigns, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) promulgates regulations. For state campaigns, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) promulgates regulations. In many cases, OCPF rules mirror FEC rules, but there are important differences, especially in donation limits. See the online references listed elsewhere for access to FEC and OCPF guidance. In this document, we generally describe OCPF regulations, so be sure and check the FEC guidance if you are involved in a federal campaign.

Q: How can I get my name on the ballot?

A: In most cases, you must collect a specified number of signatures from registered voters and submit them to either your town clerk or to the Secretary of State.  The signatures must be collected within a certain time period.  Currently, GRP candidates may solicit signatures from members of any political party (but after 2014, it is possible that only signatures from GRP voters and unenrolled voters will be accepted for partisan races).

Q: Can I accept donations and place them temporarily in a personal bank or checking account?

A: NO! That is illegal; you MUST open a campaign bank account. A guide for handling campaign finances can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/gs_non_dep.htm. This includes the form CPF 101: statement of organization-candidates committee. It is 2 pages long.

Q: Where can I get more information on campaign law and legal requirements?

For state races, your prime source is the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.  For federal races, look to the Federal Elections Commission.  Some useful online sources are listed in the table below.

Keywords/Topics

URL

eCFR: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=ffe56229d1f82075961a0f36114ba192&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title11/11cfrv1_02.tpl

MA Election Law

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII

FEC Advisory Opinions

saos.nictusa.com/saos/searchao

OCPF Advisory Opinions

www.mass.gov/ocpf/ao_by_year_2012.htm

OCPF Campaign Finance Law

www.mass.gov/ocpf/legal.htm

OCPF Home Page

http://ocpf.cloudapp.net/

OCPF Memoranda

www.mass.gov/ocpf/memos.htm

 


 DISCLAIMER:  The information here represents the opinions of the authors regarding the intent and general interpretation of campaign finance laws.  All content is provided "as is" and "as available'.  The Green-Rainbow Party makes no warranties or representations of any kind concerning the accuracy, completeness, or suitability of the information contained in this document for any specific purpose.  This information is not a substitute for the advice of your own attorney.  In using this information, you agree that neither the Green-Rainbow Party nor its affiliates, agents, or employees will be liable to you or any other person for indirect, consequential, special, incidental, punitive, or exemplary damages.

 

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