Article: First Steps – Questions for Potential Candidates

Close the Gap, By Janet Cook
Good for you – you’re thinking of running.
Women make an enormous difference in the state legislature; just imagine the thrill of being able to solve an education, environmental, social justice or economic problem for the entire state.Deciding to run is rarely an overnight decision; we like to think of it as an exploration.For clarity and efficiency, think about these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?  For whom?
  • Is the state legislature the best or only way to do that?
  • Do I know my community?  Does my community know me?
  • Who is my posse? Who has the regard of the community who will publicly support my effort?

To dive deeper, here are more topics to consider.

Location, location, location:

  1. Identify the political districts in which you live.  Is your Assemblymember new or about to retire?  Is there an obvious successor to your State Senator?  Is it the tradition in your area that state legislators come from locally elected officials with experience or from some other source?
  2. Listen to our Webinar to get the perspective of top recruiters and the factors they consider when choosing a candidate including a district’s vote history, trends and demographics.

If you are just getting started:

  1. Read a good book about running for office, such as Rebecca Sive’s “Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House.”
  2. Join an organization, if you haven’t already, that supports women candidates  – see our list of Allies and  Organizations committed to gender parity in politics.
  3. Volunteer on a political campaign!

Delve into our website: is filled with information you will find on no other website.  Our campaign recruits talented, progressive women to run for winnable, open seats in the CA legislature. While we focus exclusively on the CA legislature, some of our resources will be helpful to people considering races at other levels, such as City Council or County Supervisor or the U.S. Congress.

  1. Review the About Us tab. This section will clarify what close the gap CA can do with prospective candidates for the CA legislature as they explore the possibility of running. Note, we can only work with a candidate before she files to run.
  2. Read the Candidate Profile, which describes common attributes of successful female legislators, such as activists with roots in their communities. Plus, check out the skill sets we’d love to see more of, such as social entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
  3. Invest some serious time reviewing and thinking about the questions on the Candidate Questionnaire. You’ll be amazed at how it can inform your exploration and future planning.
  4. Feel free to Contact Us at close the gap CA with further questions.

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