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April 21, 2014

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Could you get elected to public office?

Running for public office is more than paying filing fees and completing paperwork. It’s about navigating the hard-knocks world of campaigning — raising money, identifying volunteers, planning ads, knowing your vulnerabilities and many other intricacies.

Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women who run for office, recently held a campaign boot camp that provided good advice for anyone seeking election.

Here are our Cliffs Notes from the seminar, with advice from Muthoni Wambu Kraal, director of the Emily’s List Political Opportunity Program; Las Vegas Assemblywomen Lucy Flores and Ellen Spiegel; and Rep. Dina Titus.

1. Have a well-defined reason. Be able to articulate what you offer voters and why you’re running; understand the time commitment and assess your ability to raise a lot of money.

2. Evaluate your history. Review pieces of your background that might be used against you, such as lawsuits, social media posts, business dealings or even something you may have uttered at a meeting that might have been recorded.

3. Do the political math. What is the voting history in your district. Do your political leanings align with those of voters? You may be a great person with off-putting political views. Maybe move to another district?

4. Money matters. Unless you are independently wealthy, be comfortable asking family, friends and strangers for money to pay for signs, advertisements, staff and other expenses. How much will you need? Go to the Nevada Secretary of State’s website and look up contributions and expenses reported by candidates who have run for your seat previously.

5. Build support. Be accessible. Long before running for office, build support by attending events, meeting community leaders and volunteering with other political campaigns to gain experience. Get your face and name out there and show your commitment for community causes. Many successful candidates have years of community involvement before running for an office.

6. Be ready to sacrifice. Campaigning will consume your life — knocking on doors, meeting with advisers to discuss advertising strategies, making the talk-show and rubber-chicken circuit, and attending evening events. Can your family and employer handle your mental and physical absence?

Also, there are requirements for filling particular offices. Scroll through below to see them:

    • School board, city council, Clark County Commission

      You must:

      • Not have been convicted of treason or a felony in any state.

      • Not have been ruled mentally incompetent.

      • Be at least 18 years old.

      • Be a citizen resident in the specific district you want to represent for at least the 30 days immediately before the close of candidate filing.

      • Not have changed major political party affiliation after Dec. 30 of the year preceding the election.

      • Pay filing fees. For school board, it’s $30. For Las Vegas or Henderson city councils or the Clark County Commission, it’s $100; for North Las Vegas, $125. Boulder City’s filing fee is $75.

      • For any office, candidates must also provide various documents to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, mostly having to do with financial disclosures.

    • Governor

      You must:

      • Pay a $300 filing fee.

      • Be at least 25 at the time of the election.

      • Not have changed major political party affiliation after Dec. 30 of the year preceding the election.

      • Not have been convicted of treason or a felony in any state.

      • Not have been ruled mentally incompetent.

      • Be citizen resident of Nevada for at least two years directly preceding the election.

      • File numerous documents with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

    • State Senate or Assembly

      You must:

      • Pay a filing fee of $100.

      • Be at least 21 by Election Day.

      • Be a citizen resident of Nevada for at least one year directly preceding the election.

      • Reside in the district to which the office pertains for at least the 30 days immediately before the close of candidate filing.

      • Not be convicted of embezzlement, bribery or misuse of public funds.

      • Not have changed major political party affiliation after Dec. 30 of the year preceding the election.

      • Yup, file numerous financial documents with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

    • President

      You must:

      • Be a natural-born U.S. citizen.

      • Be at least 35 years old.

      • Be a permanent resident of the United States for at least 14 years.

      • Be thick-skinned. OK, we just threw that in there.

    • U.S. House of Representatives

      You must:

      • Be at least 25 years old.

      • Be a citizen for at least seven years.

      • Live in the state you want to represent.

    • U.S. Senate

      You must:

      • Be at least 30 years old.

      • Be a citizen for at least nine years.

      • Live in the state you want to represent.

    • And ...

      To run for House of Representatives, Senate or president, it seems it’s all about money: You must register with the Federal Election Commission once you, or someone on your behalf, receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of $5,000. Within 15 days of reaching that threshold, you must file a statement of candidacy authorizing a principal campaign committee to raise and spend money on your behalf. Within 10 days of that filing, the committee must submit a statement of organization. From that point on, your campaign must report its receipts and disbursements on a regular basis. Welcome to the big leagues.

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