Run For Office: A Special Q&A With Katie Porter and Lauren Underwood -

As a single mom from California…

Or a nurse from Illinois…

…they stepped up to run for office and now are tireless advocates for fairness and justice in the United States Congress.

As part of our announcement of U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Katie Porter (CA-45), and Nikema Williams (GA-05) as our NDTC Honorary Co-Chairs, we were thrilled to host Reps. Porter and Underwood for a special Q&A session, moderated by NDTC Founder and CEO Kelly Dietrich. They spoke about what it means to put yourself out there and run for office, as well as how you can make a difference in your community.

Don’t Wait. Run For Office!

Sometimes we feel that we can’t make a difference in our communities. We believe we don’t know the right people or have the right skills. 

As both Representatives emphasized, this could not be further from the truth. Do not wait for others’ permission to make a difference. Regardless of your skillset or background, your community and the Democratic Party need you to step up. Whether this means running for office, staffing or volunteering on a campaign, or helping out your local party, you CAN create change in your community.

Election Season is Every Season

Running for office is a year-round job. 

Staffing and volunteering on campaigns is a year-round job. 

And working with your local party is a year-round job. 

When we all make an effort to expand Democratic infrastructure throughout the year, we will see meaningful results at the ballot box in November. 

Representatives Porter and Underwood stressed that if you are thinking about running for office, there is no time like the present to get started. Fundraising, building a support base, and sharing information about yourself and your platform takes time and effort. Don’t hesitate to start having conversations with potential donors and voters in and around your community.

Head over to NDTC’s “Do You Want to Run?” page for more information on starting your campaign! And if you’re looking for next steps for staying active in an off-year, check out our article, “Staying Engaged in an Off-Year.”

Work Together

Running for office is not, and has never been, a solo endeavor. It quite literally takes a village to elect a candidate, but it also takes a village to support one.

Every single elected office is different. The strategies you’ll use to win your election vary based on the office you’re running for. So take time to find other candidates who are currently in your position, or have been in your position before. Fellow candidates can serve as valuable resources for your campaign, as well as simply being there for support and advice. They’ll also be instrumental in helping you grow your supporter base and learn new strategies and tactics. 

It Gets Better

It’s the first week of your campaign, and you are feeling overwhelmed. You have no idea how to fundraise, hone your message, or connect with voters

Don’t fret! As Rep. Porter said, running for office is like exercise. When you’re first starting, it can feel grueling. But with practice, you’ll learn all the skills you need to excel. The only way to improve at skills like fundraising, interacting with supporters, and managing a campaign is to practice.

Be Different

When people run for office, they often feel like they don’t fit the traditional candidate “mold.” They don’t believe they represent what a politician is supposed to look like or act like.

But it’s okay to be different. In fact, we encourage it! It is important to bring your authentic self to your campaign, and not be afraid to let voters see you as you are. 

When you’re fundraising, don’t be afraid to emphasize to potential donors what makes you different. Be your whole self in every interaction with supporters. In fact, voters appreciate candidates who embrace their strengths and weaknesses on the campaign trail.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Haters

Putting yourself out there and running for office is already difficult. But online trolls and haters can make it much harder.

When dealing with dissenters and trolls, your priorities should be protecting your friends, family, and staff first, particularly in high-profile races. And when responding or providing accuracy to the misinformation, take the high road when possible. Your goal is to gauge where voters are coming from and meet them with communication that is genuine and true.

Run For Office With A Plan

In order to win your election, you must have a plan. This is a point both representatives emphasized.

From making a digital content calendar to planning your fundraising needs, making a campaign plan is essential for any candidate to win — no matter where you’re listed on the ballot.

Running for office is already difficult. But running for office without a plan is almost impossible. 

Read NDTC’s blog post, “Making a Political Campaign Plan,” to get started and download a campaign plan template

Run For Office With NDTC!

NDTC is proud to work with elected officials like Reps. Katie Porter and Lauren Underwood —two champions of Democratic values in the U.S. Congress. 

How do Reps. Porter and Underwood inspire you? 

Do you want to run for office and create change in your community? If so, attend our next virtual live training “Do You Want to Run for Office?” You’ll learn if running for office is the right option for you, how to determine which office to run for, and how to use NDTC’s trainings to win your race.

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December 6, 2021

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Kelly Dietrich

As founder and CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee (NDTC), Kelly Dietrich brings more than 20 years of experience on dozens of Democratic campaigns across the country.

Kelly started NDTC in 2016, where at the time it was a collection of videos covering an array of campaign topics, available to campaigns and their volunteers for free. Five years later, those videos grew into a fully fledged training program with hundreds of courses, videos, and articles about running effective campaigns. Kelly’s expertise in various areas — fundraising, staff training, sci-fi (maybe not as much) — have shaped NDTC into an industry leader in Democratic politics.

Originally from Missouri, Kelly lives in Chicago, IL with his wife, daughter, and dog, Tulip, who is allegedly part cat. Beyond work, Kelly is a diehard Kansas Jayhawk and an avid poker player. Kelly also serves on the board of directors at his local park, Sheil Park. This is where he “plays” basketball, which according to his wife can only be loosely considered a hobby. Even with all these interests, Kelly remains committed to making sure high quality tools and training are available to any Democrat who steps up to run for office, work on a campaign, or make their community better.