Dear Potential Candidate

by Christine Hernandez

Dear Potential Candidate,

I think you should run for office. Your passion is palpable. That little voice in your head telling you to lead is electric and you know that you are qualified. You have the experience and want to make a difference. You inspire others, so what’s holding you back?

Of course, there are many barriers that women may consider when running for office. One of the ones we don’t talk about enough is the risk of losing. An election requires a high amount of energy, resources, and vulnerability. You can be the best candidate and still run the risk of losing due to a number of factors outside your control. It saddens me to hear from women who are more than ready to run but don’t because the risk of losing feels like too much. They imagine disappointing everyone they know who donated time and money. They assume that if they lose once or twice that they can never run again. They want to avoid the sense of embarrassment or shame that they believe comes with a failed campaign.

Here’s the thing for you, a woman thinking of running but has that same fear of losing: you can do this.

It is public record that I have run and lost two elections. I raised funds, knocked on doors, interviewed for endorsements, and asked for help from volunteers. I spent time talking to voters and doing everything I could to get the vote out. I still lost. As much as I would have rather won, the experience still gave me so much that I don’t regret it.

If you are running because you believe in something, don’t let the fear of losing hold you back.

From an organizing perspective, your campaign builds movement. Your platform is a call to action. While your goal should be to win, you can still push policy forward. Stand by your platform, even with the risk of losing. You’d be surprised how much your campaign can shift the conversation, the community, and policy. You can get other candidates and elected officials to consider, talk, and take action on issues you campaign on. Win or lose, when you throw your hat in the ring, you are making a difference. 

From a personal and professional perspective, running for office can change you. People see you differently because you are courageous enough to stand for what you believe in and have made your values clear in your campaign. With or without the title, you serve as a role model for others.  Personally, the experience made me a more confident person. I never would have applied for roles or programs when I did had I not had the experience of running for office. Talking about my experience as a candidate validated my commitment to my community. I cared enough to take the risk of running. Now, I make it my mission to support other candidates who need support.

Running for office opened doors because of the network that it gave me. I met other candidates, elected officials, community leaders, and neighbors. I can still make a difference and now, more than ever, I’m not alone in making change. Since running for office, I have been able to serve on government and nonprofit boards. I feel confident in my ability to advocate for my community and let my voice be heard.

Losing can also make you feel a number of things, like shame. Naturally, it does feel a little embarrassing when people ask you if you won your election. You’ll have to tell them. It’s okay to spend some time after the election recovering and reflecting. But if you lose, keep your head up. Your friends, family, and community supported your campaign because they were standing with you. Even after a loss, you are still qualified to run for office again. You may need time to recover, but know that you don’t have to exit the political arena forever.

Potential Candidate, your time is now. If you feel that call to run, know that there will never be a perfect time. If you feel that urge to stand up, hear that voice inside your head that thinks things can be different, work through the fear and take the leap.

In community,


Christine is the Director of College Programs at IGNITE National and one of the leaders of the Latina Affinity Group in the She Should Run Community. Learn more about Christine by following her on Twitter! Ready to start considering your own run for office? Explore our resources for taking your next step.