Thinking of running? The time for discernment is now

New Hampshire State House
State House, Concord NH (Ellen Kolb photo)

Have you ever thought about running for state representative? Or senator, or councilor, or anything else beyond the local level? Now’s the time to get serious. The filing period for the fall elections is one month away, June 1 through June 10. This is when people formally declare their candidacies.

Is your state rep’s voting record on the life issues disappointing? Is your senator a buffer zone fan? Is your executive councilor determined to steer your money toward Planned Parenthood? Is one of your elected officials a real credit to the district but is ready to step down?

Perhaps you want to run, or you want to encourage someone else to run. Evaluate the political and practical landscape now, while you have time to consider everything thoughtfully.

You can’t govern if you don’t win. You can’t win unless you run.

Elective office is definitely not for everyone, and there are other ways to build a culture of life. To anyone who has ever thought about running, though, I say don’t yield the arena to the abortion advocates.

For state House and Senate, the pay is lousy ($200 per two-year term) and the hours can be very long during the regular session months, January to June. The party gamesmanship and the grudges that can go along with it are tiresome.  Despite all that, the chance to serve your town or ward is a wonderful thing. No other state legislature is as close to the people as New Hampshire’s, with 400 members in the House.

Executive councilors have a lot of power in New Hampshire. They approve or deny state contracts, and the governor cannot veto those decisions. Ditto for confirming or rejecting the governor’s nominees to executive departments. As for the pay, it’s much higher than for reps and senators, but that’s not saying much. The job is about service.

Running can get expensive in competitive districts. Talk to the incumbents and former candidates for a reality check. Are you prepared to raise money? This is less of a concern for state rep than for higher offices.

How secure are your incumbent reps? Check out the results of the 2014 election for your district (primary as well as general election). You might detect vulnerabilities. Is your town weighted toward one party? Winning the primary might be tantamount to winning the general election.

You can learn more about the process on the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s web site. 

Unsure about running? You have a month to do your homework.

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