Running for Office
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR OFFICE?
Here are the constitutional requirements for running for office:
Circuit Court Judge: Licensed to practice law in Wisconsin for 5 years immediately prior to the election and a qualified elector* of the circuit at the time of election. Article VII, Sections 7, 10, 24, Wis. Constitution.
District Attorney: Licensed to practice law in Wisconsin and a resident of the proprietorial unit (county) at the time of taking office. Wis. Stat. § 978.02.
County Supervisor (including Milwaukee): Resident and qualified elector* of district at the time of filing nomination papers. Wis. Stat. § 59.20(1).
Other County Office: A qualified elector* of the county at the time of filing nomination papers. Wis. Stat. § 59.20(1).
Alderperson (including Milwaukee): A qualified elector* of the city and, if aldermanic district, a qualified elector* of the district and actually residing in the district at the time of election. Wis. Stat. §.62.09(2)(a).
Other City Office (including Milwaukee): A qualified elector* of the city and an actual resident of the city at the time of election. Wis. Stat. § 62.09(2)(a).
Village office: A qualified elector* and an actual resident of the village at the time of election.Wis. Stat. § 61.19
Town Office: A qualified elector* of the town at the time of taking office, except an assessor who is appointed under Wis. Stat. § 60.307. Wis. Stat. § 60.30(2).
School Board Member (At-Large): A qualified elector* of the school district at the time of filing a Declaration of Candidacy. Wis. Stat. §§ 120.06(2), (6)(b)2.
School Board Member Representing an Apportioned Area: A qualified elector* of the school district at the time of filing a Declaration of Candidacy and a resident of the apportioned area at the time of taking office (4th Monday in April). Wis. Stat. §§ 120.05(1)(d), 120.06(2), (4)
Felons: No person may hold any state or local elected office in Wisconsin if the person has been convicted of a felony in any court in the United States unless the person has been pardoned of the conviction. No person may have his/her name placed on the ballot for any state or local elected office in Wisconsin if the person has been convicted of a felony in any court in the United States unless the person has been pardoned of the conviction. Article XIII, Section 3 (2), (3), Wis. Constitution.
Qualified elector is defined in Wis. Stat. § 6.02, as a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided in the election district for at least 28 consecutive days before any election at which he or she offers to vote (and who is not disqualified by virtue of one or more of the impediments described in Wis. Stat. § 6.03).
Circuit Court Judges: Dane County has 17 circuit court judges. Judges are elected to six (6) year terms. Like many other elections, incumbency brings a lot of power and once a judge has been elected to office they often run unopposed in future elections. Judges are not allowed to be endorsed by political parties as they are to remain impartial, so you often don't see political endorsements in these races.
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
What does it take to be a candidate and run a campaign?
First things first, ask yourself these questions:
Why do you want to run? What do you hope to accomplish? What do you know about your district and the office you are running for?
Do I have time to do this? How will my family and friends respond to me being gone many week nights?
Do I have the time and energy to run for office? How many doors can I knock on?
Do I have friends and volunteers that will help me with my campaign?
Am I willing to ask people to help—with contributions, volunteering and endorsements? Can I spend a lot of hours knocking on doors?
If I were to send a letter to friends and family and ask them to donate, who would I send it to? How much could I raise?
If you haven't stopped reading and given up by now, good! But take your time, think these things through. Feel free to talk to our elections committee members and ask questions! If you've decided to run, here's what you have to do!
Gather your friends that will help you on your campaign!
Research past campaigns and see what you need to do to win!
Open a bank account (usually the candidate puts in the money to get the account started.
Before you raise any money, register with the appropriate clerk!
Get to know your district, every inch of it!
Refine the response to "I am running because . . . "
Get out a fundraising letter to family and friends.
Ask everyone you know in your district to give you a contribution or their endorsement.
Get the voter file.
Get some good photos taken
Develop your message
Develop a voter contact plan
Develop a budget and fundraising plan
If this is your first time running, plan to attend a campaign school or find people who have! Our campaign school, for people who are members of Progressive Dane, covers developing a campaign team (who do you need to recruit to do what), the candidate's job (dollars, doors, endorsements), campaign finance laws, messaging, getting the message out (web, lit, social media etc) and getting out the vote! The mechanics of running a campaign are the same, but must be modified for your district and the type of seat you are running for.
We have lots of tips and tricks about where to get yard signs printed, volunteer coordination, ward mapping and voter identification, databases and walk lists, where to print your lit with the union bug, specifics of filing your papers for candidacy and putting together a winning team, effective lit design, preparing for debates and of course, policy issues galore! After all, winning the campaign is just the beginning! Issues are next!
How do I get Progressive Dane's Endorsement?
Check to see if you agree with our platforms.
Attend our candidate training!
Attend our Snowball held mid-December each year, or our summer Garden Party to meet our members.
Our candidate questionnaires are due VERY QUICKLY after the filing papers are due! Watch for the candidate questionnaires and invitation to interview, we send info to all candidates for Madison School Board, Dane County Board & County Executive, Madison and Fitchburg City Council & Mayor, to the email addresses listed on their filing papers. We also endorse for other races except judicial races, so please ask if you are interested.
Fill out the candidate questionnaires (if required - details will be in the email.)
Attend the endorsement interview - usually 1st or 2nd weekend in January.
Attend the General Membership Meeting where we make the endorsements - 4th Wednesday in January.
What does it mean if I'm endorsed by Progressive Dane?
With endorsements come not just our name to be placed on your lit, but a donation to the campaign, access to our membership lists, access to our email lists, facebook page, blog, newsletter, etc, volunteers, individual campaign contributions and more. We also work closely with our elected officials on policy issues once elected and support their initiatives that align with our platforms.