Running for Office
By blogher13liveblog on July 27, 2013
Panelists: Denise Feriozzi, Linda Paulson, Liz Mair, and Sabrina Schaeffer
Moderator: Jill Miller Zimon
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Good morning. So it is about 10:35 and the session starts at 10:30. My understanding is that Cheryl Sandberg's work with the circles is running concurrently with this from 10:30 to noon. We will probably have people coming in and out as they gravitate up to this floor for sessions. We are going to go ahead and get started. Just as a reminder this is running for office. Hopefully this is where you wanted to be. Thank you for choosing it.
I am Jill Miller Zimon. I am the moderator for the panel today. We have a really outstanding group of women who have been involved in this topic for a very long time in a lot of different ways and you are going to get some excellent information, whether you yourself are interested in running for office, you want to help other women run for office or really if you are also involved in issue advocacy. I think a lot of what you are going to hear today is going to be helpful in that regard as well. So here is a list of all of us and let's see not so good. I just recently changed my Twitter handle to my full name and I will tell you why a little bit later. So they updated this. So our hash tag for this session is down at the bottom, eh13runforoffice and these are our Twitter handles. So just to get that started.
All right. I am not going to do what a lot of moderators sometimes do do which is kind of read the resumes of each of the people that are here. You can go to the conference website at blogher.com and you can click on the entry for this session and you can click on each of our names and that will bring up all the information that you would ever want to know about us and the organizations that we are connected to.
Instead I am just going to say a few things about why I think these women are people that have interesting things to say about this topic and are going to be really helpful to you when it comes to this topic.
So first we have Linda from She Should Run women's campaign. I should ask which to you prefer to say you are with, Women's Campaign Fund or She Should Run?
>> LINDA PAULSON: Today it is both.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: She is going to be speaking from the viewpoint of organizations that work to assist women and kind of change the ratio in elected bodies of government. Then we have Liz from mayor strategies. She is going to be speaking from the point of view of the political campaign operative and organization and being inside a campaign itself in terms of the nuts and bolts media and communications and things like that. And then we have Denise from Emily's List and she comes from the panel from the perspective of organizations who look for candidates to support and assist from a very specific advocacy oriented viewpoint. And last we have Sabrina from the Independent Women's Forum. She is going to be offering us the perspective of gender focused issue advocacy and the role it plays in candidate's choices for the issues they run on. And she is going to provide a context for gender issues that are present in campaigns for elected office and whether the candidate may want to bring them up or not.
And she is recently everyone actually here has been involved in some media exposure related to women running for office, the issues of gender and politics even just within the last month or so. I know we are going to have a lot of fresh content related to that. We are going to start off with each providing a little bit of information about us and the work we have done related to women running for office. I am actually going to start it off by letting you know that I live in Ohio. I am a city council person in a small suburb outside of Cleveland called Pepper Pike, Ohio. We are ten miles east of Cleveland. I have been on city council since 2010 and I ran as a direct result of some of the blogging that I had done. I helped get a law changed. It was a political yard sign law and prevented everyone from having more than one yard sign up. It is not that I don't love what yards look like when there is a proliferation of yard signs, but in our county during an election if you can only have one yard sign and that means if you support a mayor and a school levy, you can only have one yard sign. If you want to support the governor and a levy, you can only have one yard sign. You have to pick between the two and that's really very unconstitutional.
So I won that battle and got named most influential person in my town. And then my husband who is here, he actually said I think you should run for council and I did because he has a lot of good ideas and I won and it was great. And just recently I soft launched my running for the Ohio State house. So that will be coming up next year but I am slowly starting.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: What I would like to point out about my story is that running for office can come to people in so many different ways. So even if you are sitting here today just because it is a curiosity, I went through something called Camp Wellstone which was put together by the Paul Wellstone family. His surviving sons put this camp together and a bunch of other materials related to running for office. And it was a threeday bootcamp back in June in Columbus, Ohio and there was about a hundred people; 50 who were candidates and 50 who wanted to be campaign managers and it is a phenomenal program. Even though he is associated with being progressive their tactics are phenomenal. So one of the things they kept saying to us is you are not normal because of how much you think about politics, because of how much you care and of your passion and because of the amount of information that you know. I don't know about you, but there are a lot of people in their own communities they do not know who their mayor is. They may not know that they have a mayor but a city manager. So I am not going to tell you that you are not normal but I will tell you that if you are here you are among a group of people who care a lot about the community you live in and figuring out a way to make a change. And so my trajectory really it grew over a very lengthy period of time growing up in a home where politics was discussed, studying government and sociology and studying law and social work and trying to figure out ways how do I help solve problems in this world. And then by using the blog and kind of building a voice and not being afraid the way that Cheryl Sandberg was talking awhile ago and confronting those fears and getting out there and running. I am thrilled that I have the support of my family and community and I am glad to see people here interested in this topic. We are going to move on. And I have just been asked by our AV person that we speak in to the mics.
>> LINDA PAULSON: I am wondering because I can't see half the room if it might be better if I stand. Good morning, everyone. First of all, I am just so
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: I am going to keep a good eye on the time because we have a lot of material we want to get through.
>> LINDA PAULSON: Which I am glad for because we want to be sure to be Democratic here. Good morning, we are so glad to see all of you in the room. I think that it is so exciting that BlogHer had the vision to have this session. And I want to thank Jill and my fellow panelists for being here, but most importantly I want to thank you for all the different things that could be going on in the conference you choose to come to this room and all of us sitting up here are taking that very seriously and will do everything that we can to help you. Thank you so much for being here.
Just wanted to say that well, first of all, how many of you in the audience have actually already run for office? And stand up if you have. Stand up if you have. Whether you ran for school board whether you ran for whether you run for student council, student government. You run for anything in your life, stand up, stand up. I am seeing there is more. Let's whoo hoo.
>> LINDA PAULSON: This is a great group of women. Congratulations. So you did come here with a question in mind whether or not you should run for office. So I am here to say yes, yes, you should. She Should Run, what we do is we are committed to removing the barriers that keep women from ascending in public leadership. So I am very I feel myself very, very honored to work for such an organization. I have only been there for a few months, but when I heard their mission I thought this is something we really need to get behind. So the first major barrier for having more women in office, does anybody have any idea what percent of the United States Congress is women right now?
>> (Off microphone).
>> LINDA PAULSON: That's a perfect answer because it was 17 before the last election. We made a whole 1% difference the last election.
>> LINDA PAULSON: So one of the major barriers is we need to run. As women we need to run. And so again I congratulate you for being in this room and thinking about that. And one of the things we can do very simply is encourage the women that we respect in our lives to run for office. So what was your husband's name?
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Jeff.
>> LINDA PAULSON: Jeff, thank you for encouraging the woman you respect in your life for running. So thank you Jeff for that. But we all need to do that for each other. I forgot to ask you if it is okay if I hand out cards.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Absolutely.
>> LINDA PAULSON: But we have got some cards that I want you to fill out. So let us know that you are thinking about running and my guess is you have friends who want to run as well. Later on I will hand these out so that you can fill out and let us know that you are thinking about running and let us know of a friend. Who is it in your life that you are also going to encourage that you think should be in this room with you today. So our day started brilliantly with Cheryl Sandberg, a personal hero of mine and much in the way that she has encouraged women to lean around the business table. What we do at She Should Run we encourage women to lean and run for office and to serve in leadership. Often that was one of the this wasn't part of our nature. My boss says something that makes me laugh all the time the way she says it. When guys look in the mirror they look at themselves and say you know what, there is a Senator that I am looking at and as women we don't do that as much. And part of the reason for that is we question our qualifications. Why is it that we question our qualifications? Well, unlike the guys we are asked to qualify our qualifications way more. For example, as anybody in this room said well, you know what, I would vote for that man if he is qualified? You hardly ever hear it that way. But time and time again if a woman is running well, I would vote for a woman if she is qualified. What does that even mean? If you are wondering if you are qualified my guess is that you are. Take a moment to jot down your qualifications and ask your closest colleagues why is it that you think that these qualifications that I have for office, do you think I am right and they will probably come back and let you know that you are ten times more right than you even knew. Make sure you build up your social support systems and gain that confidence in the qualifications that you have that you can deliver for office.
So, you know, the thing to me that's really exciting about this conversation it is sad that we are at 18% of Congress. Sad that there are only five women governors across the country but this is something that we can do something about. Unlike my last job I spent a lot of time thinking about how many women that are Fortune 500 CEOs who serve on corporate boards. As women we don't have much power. We have a little bit of power but we don't have much power in determining who serves in those seats. We can lean in and try to get those seats but for public office, we have got the power because we can vote. Thank God. Thank goodness for our Susan B. Anthonys and women who actually accomplish that for us. It always drives me crazy when women don't vote and we vote more than men. We have a say in who is sitting around the public leadership position. So I want to make sure that we pay attention to the fact that this is a place that we can make a difference with public with women in power and women in leadership positions. And that we recognize that when we do this we show that women can lead and that women are strong leaders and that we lead differently than the guys do. And so that will be a ripple affect across the sectors.
So we do a great job on voting, but you know what we need to do a better job on we need to get politically. Something that I ask you all to do is any time you meet somebody who shares your value who is running for office give her $5, because just by getting involved and getting engaged investing in people you believe in it makes all the difference. We give more charitably but less politically. Makes that connection between the candidate and the cause. So if as a donor I am concerned about the environment and there is a candidate that's going to advance in environmental issues, those connections need to be made and we often miss that piece. The vote with your purse research and She Should Run site is great research to show you how to increase donations from women.
And so finally I don't want to miss the opportunity to talk for a second about the big white elephant in the room which is one of the major reasons why women don't run is the sexism that's out there. It is nasty and it is ugly. And there your name we are fundamentally changing the landscape of how women deal with sexism on the campaign trail. Whether you might be portrayed as a stripper on a pole on Tshirts of your opponent and I say that because that actually happened last year or if you are just simply being told gosh, you know, it is going to be really hard for you to raise kids and sit on the city council at the same time, or even if you are just being told gosh, that's a great dress you have on instead of that's a great policy decision you made. These are the sexisms that we face on the campaign trail. And it used to be that what the political knowledge was was just ignore it. Let it go. It will go away. But what we know is that it hurts the candidates. It hurts the candidates by ten points and so what we have learned whoop. That's my timer and I am just about done which is good. What we have learned so what we have learned is name it and claim it, right? Name it to change it. So somebody says something about your dress when you are at a debate, you simply say you wouldn't you wouldn't make that kind of comment to a man that doesn't help to advance the issues of our community but let's talk about this instead. People like Tammy Baldwin and Carol Shea Porter they are winning races because they are naming it and claiming it out. I love what Carol Shea Porter says. Name it, change it and shame it.
The final thing I want to say we are here to help. There are so many organizations that are dedicated to helping you run for office. I do not want you to think you are alone. We are here to help at She Should Run and Women's Campaign Fund. She Should Run is a 503(c) nonprofit and women's campaign fund is a 501(c)(4) political organization that really does support candidates. We are the oldest organization in the United States financially supporting women. We support across all levels in all parties. And so great, great to have you in this room. I congratulate you for being here and I am going to share these cards so you can let us know how we can help you.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Thank you, Linda. And I just want to punctuate a couple of things that Linda said. First I want to let I want to remind everyone if you have not heard of it the Rutgers University has a center called Women in Politics. It is an academic based organization that tracks a huge quantity of information about women in office, but also it provides a lot of resources if you are looking for some kind of a bootcamp related to running for office. I think that everyone here has probably met or knows of Debbie Walsh who is very highly respected and the work that they do there. It is very accessible to and often interacts with people of all idealogical backgrounds. So I would urge you to take a look at that, that resource of.
The two other points I want to punctuate I haven't looked this number up recently but within the last couple of years this topic of women not giving money to other women running for office I have heard the number 4%, only 4% of political contributions come from women. It is an unbelievably tiny amount and yet we know how much of the purse in a household women typically control. So I think that is a really untapped area in terms of how can we use our dollars to help people help women or those candidates who are allies and help, support women who run for office.
The last piece I wanted to punctuate about the sexism. When I ran for city council, I went door to door with my kids pretty regularly. And when I would knock on the door and I would say I am looking for signatures just so I can get on the petition. You don't even have to actually vote for me. This is so you could vote against me if you want. Often I would get the oh, well, why are you running for city council and I tell them why and they said why aren't you running for school board and I have heard this from many other women across the country. It is it is really pretty insulting frankly, but I would say why would I run for school board and they would say you have children. I am thinking so anyone who wants to be in an elected office, you know, who has kids wants to be on the school board. I am not interested in the school board. They are going to be doing issues and budgets and things like that. This happened at several homes and it was, you know, it was disappointing I will just call it that. The second piece was I never put out oddly for the panel about running for office and women running for office, I never put it out there that I was the woman. It is clear I am the woman. Also I didn't put myself out there as the mother. If you saw my photos and if you read I was a parent of three kids in the public schools you could figure out I was a mother. It was important to bring out what it was about me that I thought contributed to why I would be a good candidate but I didn't play the card of being a woman.
However, one of my colleagues, someone who became my colleague we were leaving a candidate's night and we were walking to the parking lot and he said I wanted to tell you I really noticed your lipstick on your literature. And I looked at him with a kind of blank look and I didn't comment at all. Even little things like that it threw me off because why didn't he say I really like the way you organized that information about what you have accomplished. Instead he notices the lipstick. So, you know, those are the kinds of things even on a very small level that I think each of us in whatever way we interact with women in politics it is really good to constantly be trying to change how it is that we view women running for office. So with that I am going to hand it over to Liz who will share with us some stuff from the inside. She has worked with and on many campaigns.
>> LIZ MAIR: Thanks everyone for being here today. I hope that you can hear me okay. This sounds a little bit echoey up here. I guess I am going to try to talk to you a little bit about some practical things that I have observed candidates of both genders do well to think about before running for office, but I think because we do have fewer women that run and that probably means that if you are thinking about running, you have fewer potential mentors to talk to about this stuff. They are things I think are all worth reenforcing. The first campaign I worked on as a civics requirement when I was in high school was for Tina Padelosky who was running for Seattle city council, had a lot of issues of various discriminatory issues that cropped up in that campaign. That was interesting. Subsequently to that I decided I was a Republican and I worked at the RNC in 2008 and that involved so some work involving a rather high profile female Republican who had some sexist things thrown at her. And I consulted for Carly during her candidate run. Four things I want to run through that I think it would benefit anybody who was thinking of running for office to think through and focus on either before you make the decision or as soon as you have personally made the decision before you really launch your campaign in earnest. The first is family and friends. This depends a little bit on what office you are seeking. But suffice to say the bigger the office is the more emotionally, intellectually and physically grueling. It is more than what you think it is going to be.
Everyone encounters but I think it is an area where potentially as women we have some advantages over men. I see male candidates step in the ring all day long and they are oh, yeah, this is going to be easy. And they are like oh, my God, I am getting killed out here. The one exception that I have seen is John McCain who I found extremely frustrating to work for who requires less sleep than I to. With a number of others they don't understand how grueling it is going to be and how demanding it is going to be and I think that there are women candidates that I have seen whether it is because they have been out there leading in a very tough position in the corporate world or because they have a bunch of kids to wrangle that commute off to work on the north slope of Alaska and maybe we are better at multi tasking and do things on limited sleep and maybe we don't freak out. And maybe we are like this really sucks but so did last Monday. But nonetheless think through that. And make sure if you are going to run for office and you are determined to do it make sure you get buy in for your friends and family and it is not only going to be grueling for you but for them. If it is as simple as oh, my God, I have to campaign until 10 o'clock when am I going to eat. Who is going to feed me. People don't think about this. Even me as a consultant and I think about this stuff and my husband does, too. And it is something you have got to put some attention in to.
The other reason that I think it is important is because most likely your social circle is going to provide the basis of your network both for supporters, volunteers and for donors. So if you get buy in from those people early on that provides you with a much more secure and stable foundation. What you don't want to do optimally is jump in to the ring and go oh, it is going to cost me $500,000 to run this campaign. I wonder where I am going to get that. I haven't really told anybody. I guess maybe I could ask some people at my church. Right? It is better to kind of have those conversations upfront and then you get an idea like who is really invested in your candidacy and who is really interested in it. Who do they know is interested in or likely to be interested in and you build that out as you go along without being in this position where you are front loading the position and then back loading the stuff that is going to make it feasible to win. So that point time considerations generally. I don't want to dissuade anyone from running. I think more people should run. I think the biggest problem I have looking at politics is the power of incumbency and these dudes that get elected and they are up on Capitol Hill for 50 years. Do you know what that is? Do you know like I seriously probably see your staff carrying around and you are like oh, there is this mystical electronic. There has to be in my opinion there has to be a much greater interest on the part of the American public and challenging incumbents and I think the fact that you guys are sitting in this room means that you are part of that process.
But with that being said one of the things that I think you quickly realize when you step in the ring is that when you are watching from the outside especially if you are a very politically engaged person which I will say it even though Jill wouldn't you are not normal.
>> LIZ MAIR: 98% of the country just doesn't care about the stuff that you do at all. You are out there talking about whatever budgetary policy and they say this is great. Look at the funny picture of my cat. But being in this position unfortunately one of the things that is difficult about it is that if you are really wrapped up in politics and it is something that you find tremendously to be stimulating, sexy, cool, whatever it is because you are seeing the good stuff and not the bad stuff and not the stuff that's not fun, right? Like you are watching Elizabeth Warren and her debate with Scott Brown and you are like God, that is fun and she is killing it and she did. In 2008 I watched Sara Palin give a million speeches to ante up crowds and you think that would be great. I would love to sit in a room and have 10,000 people whooping and hollering and I see Amy on MSNBC and she gets the award from the Washington Post for being the most funniest. I hear stories from friends in New Hampshire of the way that Kelly Ayote does retail politics. The sad fact is the bulk of campaign time is not spent on the fun stuff or anything that we think is sexy or glamorous. And it is spent sitting on the phone dialing for money. Even if you are running for a small office you are going to have to do a certain amount of that because yard signs cost money.
Everything you are going to do is going to cost a certain amount of money even if you are running an all volunteer staff and even if you are running things very much reliant on free social media and new media tools. You have to have some money to get through this. I would urge you to remember that for all the stuff that looks like fun there is going to be stuff that isn't fun and you have to remember why you are doing it. I think Hillary I am not personally a Hillary Clinton fan but one of the things that is extremely instructive with Hillary Clinton and she said this comment of why she did not do the Sunday shows when the Benghazi thing happened and people see oh, great admission and I seen it as Hillary Clinton does not like to do Sunday shows. Everything is going to have something that they have to do and you are not going to like it. Make sure that you can remember those and keep things in perspective when you are doing the crap bit so that when you get to do the fun thing it is actually fun. Organization to do all of this, you need a good organization behind you.
In some cases that will be paid. I think probably the bigger office you are looking at running for the more you are going to have paid staff. In some cases it will be all volunteer and in some cases it will be a mix of both. The things that you need to be thinking about about hiring or identifying a volunteer that will assume that role of campaign manager obviously somebody who can help with fundraising in some respect even if that person is the 18yearold version or 17yearold version of me who happened to have her first job as a telemarketer. And so when she walks up on your city council campaign hey get on the phone and raise me some money. That would be helpful. 99.99% of people really hate calling and asking for money. Communications, media, new media potentially wrapped in to that.
You will no matter what you are running for you have some interview requests. You will have some requests to show up at particular events or to comment on whatever the latest controversy is. You need somebody to handle that. It shouldn't be you and it shouldn't be your spouse in most cases. In a side note I don't know what your experience with this has been but my general experience in politics when the candidate gets trashed the candidate has a drink and takes a shower and washes it away and the spouse gets really, really pissed and offended. And, you know, so you need to have somebody who is in a position where they can deal with a lot of that stuff and it is not the person who loves you and is supporting you and can't deal with people saying anything derogatory about you being in that role.
We also need to have your political field people. Again can be a volunteer. Somebody who figures out where other volunteers are going to be going and knocking on doors and making phone calls, that kind of thing. And potentially depending on what office you are running for you are looking at further things beyond that. If you have a strong minority contingent within your local area you want somebody who is from that community if you are not who is able to speak to that. These sorts of things I think are important. A couple of things I will just say in terms of my views on hiring and criteria that you want to look for, don't hire a yes men. Don't do it. It is tempting. It is awesome when somebody is like everything you did is awesome and wonderful. That feels really good. And it is a great way of losing. Don't do that.
Hire people who are prepared to be honest, potentially even brutally so. If you are running for office people can take because God knows there is going to be people out there who are going to say worse things than those you are paying. Hire people who are willing to offer criticism that is honest but constructive. Make sure you don't hire people who will do the bear minimum. That's a problem that you can encounter when you are looking at the grass roots level. I am passionate about that but it is not the only one that matters.
Spouses, make sure that somebody on the team has a good relationship with your spouse because when something happens, like when somebody says yeah, damn look at the ass on that city council candidate and your husband is like I am going to fucking kill them, you need somebody who you be like hey let's go get a cup of coffee. Chill out. It will happen. It happens with male candidates, too. The wife gets very pissed because she is like all these people are commenting about how my husband is so hot. You want somebody who can deal with that issue for you because it probably will arise.
And the final thing that I will just say to you is do an inventory of your assets and liabilities and do it honestly and candidly. The number of people who run for office who think well, I am perfect for this office because here are all of my assets and you go and ask any voter and the voter is like that's all crap. I don't want to vote for that. And a bunch of the stuff that was left off the list is the stuff that's actually interesting to the voter. So you need to do a very good inventory. And also bear in mind the way that you are going to be depicted out there is probably never the way that you see yourself. And sometimes that hurts. But it is not always a bad thing. I think if you are depicted as the bimbo, clearly it sucks and you should try to avoid that if you can obviously.
But, you know, one of the classic examples where I differ a little bit from people and I guess this is also kind of pertinent given what Cheryl Sandberg said earlier, there are a lot of women in politics who get characterized as bitches and a lot of them don't like that because they are genuinely not when you get to know them. They are genuinely not, but one thing to think about, this is probably an anecdote that I never actually told anybody before and if anybody who was on Carly's team watches this I hope they are not mortally offended, there were some people who when Carly first stepped in to the Senate race were saying oh, she seems like a bitch. And anybody who knows Carly knows that is like so not true. It is not even funny. But one of the things that I thought was interesting is I was talking to a member of the media that I was pitching on a story and he mentioned something about how there seems to be this perception that she was a bitch and I launched in to this whole this is my personal experience of Carly and she is not. And he went no, no. Let me tell you something right now the country is so screwed up that there are a lot of voters who want a bitch because they want somebody who can go up to Capitol Hill and kick these guys' asses. And I hadn't thought about that and I wasn't going to depict Carly as being a hard bitch and that's not what she is. But I did think ultimately if the way that we are trying to depict her which is accurate doesn't work for some people that's actually not necessarily going to matter. If it does matter maybe it is going to be a positive. I don't know.
Voters think about things in weird ways. Make sure you inventory things and talk through it with people who know you as things that you think are assets might be liabilities. Another example I will just give of that how many of you are familiar with Patty Murray who is the senior Senator from Washington? I am from Washington originally. When Patty Murray was constantly derided as you can't do this, you are a mom in tennis shoes, I always thought it was really interesting looking at how that actually worked out in practice because as much as people derided her they were probably a good 50% of people who voted in every election who she ran in, whatever, I am a mom in tennis shoes, too and I know more than these assholes. So something like that that looks like it is a disadvantage again not necessarily one. So think through all of that.
And the final point if you are looking at running for office as opposed to the person being brought in running, kicking and screaming, if you are thinking about running for office there is a reason why you are thinking about running for office. There is a particular issue or thing you care about, do not lose sight of that. There is a constant temptation to always weigh in to whatever the topic of the day is. Oh, the war on moms or I don't know, I am trying to think what's another great one. Lately a lot of it has been both sides of the Zimmerman trial. You know what, if you are running for school board, I am sure people are going to ask your opinions about these things because they are out there in the national debate but you are probably running because you care about like education. I am guessing. If you don't, I don't know what you are doing. But, you know, don't forget why you are actually running because that I think is one of the most deadly things. That plus inauthenticity. Those are the two most deadly things that a candidate can dabble in. If you want a good bit of evidence for this, I am guessing probably most people in the room are not Republicans, but I am also guessing you probably watched some of the Republican debates of 2012, I really honestly think in hindsight and bearing in mind I worked for two of those guys who were on the stage at various points, I am not actually convinced that apart from Rick Santorim and Michelle Bachman they had any idea why they were running. I mean if any of you do, please enlighten me because I am still not clear on it. I think in a lot of cases there were people who were dragged in to that because downers and grass roots people didn't like the other options. And I think there were some who were dragged in to it because it sort of looked like based on your record and your bio you could be president. And I mean if somebody says you could be president, you are going to be like okay, maybe I will try to be president. But that's not that's not the reason why you run.
There is some reason that got all of us in to politics and that's probably going to be the reason why you decide to run. Do not lose sight of that. It is always important to keep that in the back of your mind and make sure if you have an opportunity to get back to that topic you get back to that topic. Especially if you do run, there are many of you who will run once, not win and then decide to run again. That's going to work a lot better if you have constantly been focused on the single thing that you think is important. In 2008 there was a bunch of stuff that wasn't selling to voters and in 2010 it was. And the people who were consistent about what they thought in 2008 and 2010 are the ones that benefitted, and the ones who flipflopped and moved all over the place and came up with good new reasons for running for whatever are the ones that had a harder time. And if you went back and looked at democrats between 2004 and 2006 and democrats between 2004 and 2008 you would probably find the same thing. Don't forget what your purpose is and don't forget what you care about even if it is something that I personally think is totally looney. I am sure if I were running for office that would be plenty that I would.
>> LIZ MAIR: I guarantee. Since I am a libertarian, 90% of the country thinks that I am totally nuts. Don't forget what got you in the game in the first place.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: You will not get better advice from somebody who has been on campaigns than from Liz. She is the best. And just to punctuate a couple of things that she said about knowing what it is that drove you to run in the first place and always keeping that in mind, another way that we talk about that, stay on message. I have to say that that probably was the single piece of advice that came back to me over and over and over again no matter how big or small something that might otherwise get to me. You would think after blogging for nine years I would be used to whatever may be thrown at me to knock me off but I can be kind of sensitive. And I am so passionate about what i believe in and I can be very Pollyanna about public service even with my kids when they try to call me a politician or say that I am in politics, politics is a tactic and it is a strategy. It is not what I do and what I am. I look to serve the public. And I think that most people in elected office fail to think about that and that's a whole other session some day. This idea of staying on message and knowing why you are in there will save you on the toughest days and on the best days it is going to make you feel so virtuous. So it is really, really critical.
>> LIZ MAIR: Just to quickly add to that I think the more you constantly remember what got you interested in politics the easier it is going to be to stay on message. If your message relates to a bunch of issues that are topical at that point but they are not things that near and dear to you I can stay on message. But ultimately you are not going to sound as passionate in doing it. You are going to have to work harder. Make it easy on yourself.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: And it ties back to authenticity and the value of being authentic. That's a value in and of itself. In terms of actually persuading people to vote for you and make the people who support you feel good about you as a candidate that's authenticity and always going back to why you are in this and it is critical and it matters. People see it. They can smell it. They recognize it. It is very, very apparent. We are going to move right on to Denise. We are going to leave time for questions and answers.
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: Good morning. I am Denise Feriozzi and I am going to focus on how we can help you run and not only run but win. So we talked a lot about what the barriers are and those are very, very real. We talked about what you should think through before running for office. And then when you were at that place where you have decided to take the leap and run for office because you are not normal, there are organizations out there that can help you run a strong campaign and win. Because at the end of the day running is important. When you see other women running for office and seeking elected office it inspires you but nothing is more inspiring than seeing another woman in power in our government making a difference every day.
And, you know, Emily's List is a partisan organization. But the reason I got in to this work was by seeing the a woman governor in my home state of New Jersey, Kristine Todd Whitman. I was nominated by the American Legion's auxiliary to go to this thing called Girl's State but it is all about us running for office and putting our names on the ballot. And I ran for Lincoln County commissioner and won because I had the most awesome signs and yard signs don't matter. But then I decided I wasn't in to this whole running thing and I went and managed the woman who was in my dorms, manage her campaign for running for governor. It was the thing that inspired me the most and the reason that I do what I do today.
Now I don't know if she would be happy about what I am doing but that's another story for another day. So we want you to run. One way that we think about it at Emily's List is this, the right person at the right time in the right place. So when you are thinking about running, you got to think through kind of those three buckets. So the right person, and that goes back to what Liz said, why are you running. We have a lot of data. There is a lot of great research out there from Rutgers and also from Jennifer law set at American University about why women run for office. Every woman that we have ever trained, supported and run we have surveyed and said why is it that you ran. 81% of them said that they wanted to make a difference and change something in their community.
And let me just tell you, that's not really why the guys are doing it. It is just not. You know, men wake up and they think I am so awesome. I have to get out there and share this awesomeness with the world. That's not what we are doing. Patty Murray wanted to fix I think it was funding in her school system and she went to her state legislators and they said you are a mom in tennis shoes. Is it?
>> (Off microphone). That's what guys think.
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: Not the Patty Murray.
>> LIZ MAIR: I think that Chuck's humor might have blown it a little bit.
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: Have you heard that joke about where is the most dangerous place in Washington? Between Chuck Shumer and a camera.
>> LIZ MAIR: And now you have got another fun anecdote about in Mark Liebovich's book of doing extreme faces at funerals.
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: We could actually spend the rest of this making fun of men if you want but let's get back to business. Men want to share their awesomeness and we know women wake up and they say I want to get my kids to school and get to my job and get home and figure out how to have a great life and pass that great life on so that my kids have a better life and I do think in this day and time where everyone hates politics that politics are a means to making our world a better place for the next generation. And so as you think about why you want to run it is okay to say that you want to be powerful. It is okay to say that. But what is the thing that really inspired you to run for office. So that's the right person. And who are you? What's your connection to the community? That's really important. You can be a political hack. You can be a small business woman. You can come from a lot of different backgrounds but what is your connection to the community. How do you understand what the people you are trying to represent are and what are their challenges. The right time, the power of incumbency, it is the biggest barrier for women. While you may be the right person it may not be the right time. So you should think about what you can do in literally the next five years to get yourself in to a position for when that person retires.
And frankly at Emily's List we plan and think about that all the time. We have a list of how old every member of Congress is and who we are training and working with in that seat or district. So don't be afraid to really think strategically to think about what the right time and make sure you are planning, about planning forward to that date and then finally the right place. The reality is that we live in a country where, you know, there are only a certain sliver of numbers of seats in Congress that are actually competitive. So we want you to pick a seat where if you are a Republican you can win. If you are a democrat you can win. You have got to really think about where your town is. If you are running in an area and you are a democrat and it is a very conservative area, you should probably think about maybe a nonpartisan office or maybe you should think about moving because there is a reality in politics that you have got to pick the right seat and be able to win. Even if you are fabulous, the demographics and the partisanship of the place that you are living matters and it is you have to pick the right seat to run in. That's what Emily's List is looking for broadly when we are looking on how we can get out there and help certain women run for office. So think about if you are the right person, the right time and the right place.
Now the ways that Emily's List can help you if you are running for office. Most people think of us as raising money and we have a lot of other ways to help you. Let me tell you about what those are and then I would be happy to tell you more jokes about men and really crazy stories about working on campaigns.
But first Emily's List has a training program all around the country called the political opportunity program. We do trainings in targeted states where we go and we ask women to come and spend a day with us and we teach you how to get ready to run in more detail the things that you need to think about and the planning you need to do. How to raise the money and how to run a winning campaign because 50% of this is let's inspire you to run and figure out why you want to run and the other half is sheer mechanics of running a campaign and get your message out. And then we ask you one of the things that we know is that women have to be asked at least six times before they consider running. I have seen a lot of numbers on. This is from our own internal research of women that we have supported that women who ended up running had to be asked at least six times. Consider yourself asked everyone in this room.
>> Five times?
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: Yes. It was true.
>> Here we go.
>> DENISE FERIOZZI: The second thing that we can do is help you run outside of providing you the training we can help you run a smart bad ass campaign and that comes from finding you talented people to work on your campaign and we have a job bank that we can help find folks to run campaigns. Paid consultants that's a big important thing. And just really helping you make the decisions along the way and deal with things that come your way. Of course, we do help with money campaigns. Frankly our average Congressional race in 2012 was 2 million dollars of money. Don't let that be a barrier because we can teach you how to raise that money. It is not if you are willing to take the time and spend 12 hours locked in a room making calls to people and telling them that you need their money and that cannot be that can be a really unnatural thing for some women asking for money. We were taught to, you know, if you are going to go over to your friend's house after school you get a call and say is it okay with your mom if I come over, you can invite yourself to dinner. There are certain ways that we are taught to be polite. So asking for money I think sometimes is an issue culturally with how we are raised. I know it is really hard for me. But we can teach how to do that and Emily's List has a network of over 2 million members nationally men and women across the country who want to see more Democratic women in office and we ask them to put money in to your campaign. We mobilize women voters in targeted districts and states around the country. So we know that the more women turn out the more likely it is for Democratic women to win. And finally once you are in office we say go be a great legislator and then two days after let's sit down and think about what's next. So you are constantly planning and figuring out, you know, how you are going to move up in elected office. And build your power as a legislator in your state or district. Those are some of the ways that we can help and I look forward to your questions.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Thank you. Just to be sure I want to be sure to cover on the other end of the ideological spectrum I am not sure if it could be considered quite the same, there is a relatively new women's Republican organization, She Pack which has started to raise money to assist women from the conservative end of the spectrum who want to run for office. And there are more and more organizations I think along the spectrum that assist women in particular who are looking for assistance in how to run putting things together and I want to punctuate one of the things that has come up but Denise talked a lot about it, this motion of planning, I cannot emphasize that enough. The three things that I wanted to emphasize were planning, listening and asking. I think those are the three action verbs I think of in terms of what's running through my mind; what wakes me up, what I am thinking about when I get up, especially for women my experience has been that we tend to be involved in a lot of different things because we are trying to change the world and we are trying to make change, but we like to coop and bring in and that means there are a lot of things going on. I have no less than three hard copy calendars and I integrate four different Google calendars in to one calendar to keep track of my family, my work, my list serve, support people and my city council calendar. That's all on one Google calendar. And I have three hard copy calendars that I use for planning my race for the state house.
So the planning is really critical and it also gives you an edge. It goes back to the idea of the men, they think they are awesome and they want to share their awesomeness. They kind of think that's enough but it is not. It is a lot more than that. And another I think it is a fairly spoken rule about running for office, but it is often said that the person that works the hardest is very often, very likely going to be the person that wins and I think women know how to work their tail off. And if you do that, the likelihood that you are going to win is very, very high. So with that I will give the space to Sabrina.
>> SABRINA SCHAEFFER: Thanks for making some time for me at the end. This has been really a fun panel. I feel like I have learned a tremendous amount. I still have very little interest in running for public office and I think that's because I have worked on two campaigns, smaller ones. My dad ran for Congress and I always joked that I went to college and he adopted a campaign with my mom. It was like I didn't exist anymore. They had an empty nest and the campaign became everything. And I remember coming home to California on spring break thinking yeah, I want to go to the beach and they are like nope, you are walking precincts. And I thought this was a nightmare and after all of that work he lost by a small margin and he was in deep depression for days. It takes some getting used and you have to have the right temperament. And I think that's one of the other things that I was going to talk about today. But I am also learning a ton about some of the things that I have been thinking about listening to everyone.
I run the independent women's forum which is a (c)(3). We are focused on expanding the number of women who value and engage in limited government. There is something called the white size check. Men are the donors in the public policy space. They can be millionaires. They can give all sorts of money to all the big think tanks, but in the end the people who write the checks are men and the women can have access to the money but they give money to the hospitals and they give money to the opera and maybe it has something to do with our gender differences. Maybe it is just something within the families, but I think it is something that I imagine is very much the same on the campaign trail. And I am finding that similar and very interesting. I am also a little bit envious standing up here listening to everything that the women on the left are doing. I actually came to this world from the opinion research world political experiments and there is no group that has done this better than Emily's List. Y'all were some of the most creative and the first ones to be doing. And my husband who does this for a living he always jokes if we can get an inch along he would be happy. If you are a democrat running for office, you have some tremendous resources. So at IWF since we are a (c)(3) and we don't help women run for office but this is an issue that comes up all the time. I have been on several panels in the last few months about the same issue, and it is interesting, I can't really start a conversation like this without acknowledging that for me, personally from my perspective political values always outweigh someone's gender when I am thinking about who you would support for office. I am a very strong believer in gender differences.
I have three children. Two are girls and one is a boy and nothing puts that in to sharper relief than when my son game along. My little girls place nicely and they share the trains at the bookstore and my son chucks them across and hits other kids. I am a good parent and good at discipline and I realized there is something else coming along. I do strongly believe that it is true that women have to be asked. They have to be asked multiple times and they don't look in the mirror and think that this is something that might be good to look at. Women have a different communication style. Instead of PowerPoints we have a conversation. I don't want to diminish the idea that we do need more women in office. Certainly running for public places onerous demands on women that are not there for men. The example that always sort of sticks in my head there was one of the debates during the 2012 election where Michelle Bachman walked away from the podium during the break. And why did Michelle Bachman go away and from my understanding she had to have some of her fake eyelashes reapplied. If I was in front of those cameras and millions of people watching I would want my eyelashes looking perfect and I would want my makeup done just right. But can you really blame her and the men get powdered for one second and the reality is there are difficulties that women face that men do not have to deal with. That should not necessarily be something that deters us but it is a reality.
I feel sort of hopeful I am seeing a slate of fiscally conservative on the right who I hope will serve as ambassadors to the public on the limited government side. I also hope they will be a model for other women who might want to run for office. She is likeable. She is somebody who whether you on the left or right probably don't get too impassioned about or angry and I think that serves women well. Overall women are still doing poorly of achieving some level of parity. Is it the fact that you are scared of getting in front of cameras or is it biased discrimination is keeping women out of it? Are we really just very different than men?
There has been some research and I think there should be more done to sort of help us get at what is that fear, what is it that I am scared of so that I can maybe tackle that issue and lean in if that's the answer for me. We know from the political science literature that there are a host of different gender differences from communication style to willingness to negotiate to risk aversion and competitive drive all of which are different for men than women. And that may help explain the underrepresentation of women in office. And a lot of people say that sexism plays a big role in this but I think it is a little bigger than all of that. And I recently came across some really interesting research out of the University of Pittsburgh and I don't this is a blogging conference for some of you here might read the monkey cage, and John had some really interesting stuff on there this one day from these two professors out of Pittsburgh who found that ultimately women are more election averse than men and they did this interesting experiment where women were exposed to all sorts of explain this in 20 seconds or less, tensions, if you will. And the bottom line it is sort of noisiness of campaign cycle. You can't get your message out because at the same time that you are trying to talk about the budget someone is talking about your legs. That's what it is that frightens people. They are afraid they can't be authentic.
They are afraid they can't get out there and talk about the issues that are driving them to run for office. It is the noisiness of the campaign that seems to be keeping women out of politics. It is not really that they are not as competitive or that they don't know how to negotiate. Those things may be an issue on the margin but the bottom line people don't think they can be effective on the campaign trail because of all the clutter out there. I think that's something that we can begin to tackle. It is hard. We have this 24 hour news cycle. There is not a silver bullet in terms of overcoming that, but maybe if we accept that and we recognize that's something that might be worrying us we can begin to find ways around it. You can begin to say hey, I don't need to respond to the, you know, XYZ scandal of the day because I am running for the school board, and it doesn't have any relevance to what I am doing. I like to sort of keep that in mind.
So I think what I also one other thought we talk a lot about sort of women running for office but when I think about this I kind of often go back to the early Republican, the American founding when women did not have a prominent role in politics. It was definitely a man's world. It was dishonest and it was dirty. It was no place for ladies and that's why we women and sort of through their roles as wives and as mothers that's where they had their influence. And the idea was that it influenced men in their life to stay on the values that they thought were important. Sort of small Republican values. There is a great historian Linda Kurber and she described this as Republican motherhood. We have come a long way in the last few hundred years and gender roles have clearly evolved, but I like to keep that in mind that ultimately you want to find people to support and you want to run because of the ideas and not simply because of gender and you don't want to support someone because of their gender. Because ultimately I think there is some sort of happy medium between when women couldn't run and couldn't be taking an active role but were so focused on the ideas and today where we often say well, we have 20 women in the Senate; is that good or bad. It depends on what you think about the different issue. Because the reality is we have 16 Democratic women and four Republicans. It is going to vary.
The last thing I wanted to emphasize is that there is we are living in a different world. We have I think Cheryl Sandberg made a good point this morning when she started saying she likes Facebook because it gives everyone a voice and this is not to diminish the idea of running for office, but there are lots of ways that women can and are affecting change, whether they are running a campaign, whether they are working at a pack, whether they are in the media, whether they are general counsel at a trade association. I have had this debate with women like Leslie Sanchez and I don't know why that any of the women up here aren't the decision makers. I don't think you necessarily have to be, you know, a member of Congress or your local city council to be having an impact on your community. And I think that we have to accept that public office sometimes is not for everyone. It is not for me. It is not to diminish or to discourage people from doing it but we have to be realistic about what we want to do. I think it is important. This has been a very constructive conversation for me. Actually had a small inkling this could be fun and then this is frightening and horrible. I hate asking people for money. Anyway best of luck to all of you who are running and I hope I can answer any other questions.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: Thank you.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: I think you have really all of us know that there are industries that work to help train people to run for office. I think they are mostly nonprofit but I am sure there are some that are for profit. These are all wonderful opportunities but I think in the 90 minutes that we are here you have gotten some phenomenal advice that you can help others or help women make a difference in our politics. So the main areas that we were hoping to cover were decision making, best practices, fundraising. I think we have covered all of that and I would love to open it up to the floor for questions because you have got some great panelists and somebody with some actual experience running and hitting some of these walls and getting over the obstacles as well. Just want to open it up. There is a mic. So you just raise your hand and she will walk around. And if you have got a comment or something to contribute about an experience that you have had that resonates or contradicts.
>> I will break the ice. That was great. I think that was a lot of science that just got dropped. Hopefully we have helped to spread it out to the rest of the BlogHer audience. I have heard Liz speak many times. We have known each other for awhile. Are you going to run for office?
>> LIZ MAIR: I hope that's good.
>> When are you going to run for office?
>> LIZ MAIR: I get people asking me that a lot. I don't I am one of the people who also tends to think not for me. Now maybe that's partly a difficulty of matching my political views with the district. I am pretty sure if I thought about Congressional districts in this country there are probably about five or six where I think somebody with my views could be elected.
>> Where are they?
>> LIZ MAIR: One of them is actually not it is not in Seattle specifically but just east of Seattle potentially. Two in New Hampshire, I think probably they tend to like more libertarian people.
>> And whoo hoo, New Hampshire.
>> LIZ MAIR: The problem with New Hampshire if your family hasn't lived there since 1600.
>> There is 600 legislative seats in the house.
>> LIZ MAIR: That's true. And I will say that, you know, given that New Hampshire one of my favorite stories about New Hampshire having worked for a firm there, they are so libertarian up there that warms my heart. They had a situation where you had I believe it was the gun owners of America and yoga practitioners jointly demonstrating in front of the general court by doing yoga with like AK47s strapped to themselves to demonstrate against the general court. What's not to love about that? Like that's that like personally sums me up so well. So I guess if I could like forge my name or claim some sort of Mayflower ancestry maybe that be tenable but otherwise I think it is pretty slim pickings. I will say I agree with the point that you made, Sabrina, about there being different ways to be a decision maker and an influencer in this process. One of the things that I think if you are one vote out of 435 in the house versus sitting here with like 12 hours a day to, I mean largely a lot of what I do is negative, 12 hours a day to attack people in a way that really forces them to have to be held accountable for stupid things that they do. Sometimes I do question which of those is more effective on your average day, no disrespect certainly to the many people who serve in the house who do a phenomenal job. And Kathy Rogers from my home state is foremost among. My husband is very interested in running and if he ever does do that you should all watch because it will be a serious comedy show.
>> LIZ MAIR: Yeah. He is pretty nutty.
>> Liz I think combatted this a little bit and Sabrina brought it up, the fear of not being effective and getting sidetracked. I think that is so true for a lot of women. I can't speak for how men how to process that but I definitely think my experience again speaking from my experience, especially as I get older, you know, I want I really want to get the thing done. And I think there has been a couple of studies that have talked about how the increasing number of women in Congress has resulted in them getting more things done. The study there have been a couple of studies in the last four years or so that have shown that women get legislation introduced and they get it they collaborate to shape it in a way that it will pass and that they are exceptionally effective at doing that and the fear of not being able to be effective is definitely something that I have thought about, especially in terms of thinking about whether to run and where can I be most effective. I feel like we think about where can I be effective all the time. And so I think that I thought that was a great point and I think part of what I hear Liz saying if you thought you could actually be effective in an elected office more so maybe it would be a little bit more attractive but the idea that it might not be.
>> LIZ MAIR: I also do think for somebody who holds what I think I can legitimately describe as being a fairly minority philosophical perspective for those of us in that situation it is a little bit more challenging. Your sort of standard Republican issues and democrat issues certainly don't line up 100% with either of those. That's a challenge. Probably is for some of you. But hopefully, you know, some of you live in districts other than the Virginia 8th. And if you do, good. Although I will say the one thing that does occasionally cause me to think about it is I would just love to get in a debate with Jim Moran and have him say something, offhand sexist thing and just slam him.
>> I would love to comment on this, too because I think one of the things that we should think about in the face of again being one of 435 or one of the millions of legislative seats in New Hampshire is executive office. One of the things that when we look at Congress and these dismal numbers, if you took a look at the big city mayors, five out of 50 and then, of course, our highest office that a woman has never held, it is even harder for women to get elected to executive office than it is for them to get elected to legislative office. And so part of that I believe is because of the lack of role models. If you live in Washington you have seen a lot of women legislators but it is about seeing women in those executive roles and also women running. If we want to be effective think about stepping up and running for mayor.
>> LIZ MAIR: And having worked in California, California is another example that you look on both sides of the aisle you see big names. New Hampshire has no male representation in Congress at all. The more men in New Hampshire.
>> I know.
>> LIZ MAIR: Ask these AK47 toting yoga practicing women.
>> What I would add to that about effectiveness, in my old world though I was a fundraiser for the United Way and I spent some time lobbying on the Hill. When I think about the fact that the Hill is not effective I think it is because there is not enough women on the Hill. So if you are wanting to get something done we need to elect you and we need to elect more so that we can actually make this body work for our nation again.
>> Here, here.
>> I agree. Yes, I have run for things other than government but I am interested in government at this point and politics. Though I have been extremely nonpartisan and I want to know how long does it take to actually put a team together and what comes first? Do you have to have a base that says yes, you should be running and this is the office where we think or do you have to start doing fundraising or getting a team? I have no idea.
>> I did not plant her but that's the question if I were to get Liz alone and get free advice for my own campaign that's what I would be asking. I will tell what you have done in 30 seconds and then Liz and others can chime in on what best practices are. I took three or four months, probably even longer to examine the house district I am running in to figure out is this a doable, what am I going to be facing, how tough do I have to be. Once I finally decided I started calling up and a lot of books recommend that you do this, you contact the old hands. You contact people who know this stuff. People who have connections to or people who you just have heard about and you talk to them and ask them some of the questions that you just asked. I will tell you even as recently as this past week I am still asking questions about when do I have to start spending money on people. What will I be spending money on. When can I stop finding all the people who will give me an hour's free advice because I have to start paying for it. I am a freelancer myself. I understand the importance of paying people for what they do. But I think those are great questions. And honestly I think I am only just seeing that. So now it is almost August and I have been looking at this since February or March. So that's been my own trajectory for this next race but
>> LIZ MAIR: I would say if you are in a position where you haven't sort of been deeply involved in politics for many years and many people who are in that situation don't necessarily have a heavily partisan slant and are maybe more in the middle somewhere loosely I would say that may be a good opportunity to look at some of the nonpartisan offices that are in your area or state. Those can oftentimes be harder to get people to run for because they don't get to attach a letter behind their name, and when they don't sometimes they find that if they are extremely idealogical one way or another that can be inhibiting to them in terms of their desire to be able to go out and sort of, you know, in some cases grandstand about things or fundraise from particular groups. I would say take a look at maybe some of those offices and see if there is something that appeals. It seems to me it is harder to find good candidates for those offices than it is for state rep or state Senate. There is always more focus I feel like on legislative stuff.
So people kind of gloss over, I don't know, I mean in our area school board is a commonly glossed over area. And, you know, county board we have certainly had situations previously where we have an all Democratic county board and it takes a lot to get a Republican to run and I am not sure that's the best for democracy. I would look at those kinds of things. When you build a team out and whether you need to have sort of an existing operation, I guess that depends a little bit on what the motivating factor is for you to run. Certainly if I look at the example of libertarian politicians that I think have been quite successful they haven't had an existing party structure base. You can't generally speaking if you are somebody who has like Ron Paul's ideas, you can't walk in to the RNC and say hey, I am running for this, support me. The RNC has to stay nonpartisan in a primary and they worry about what that is going to involve. It is easier to go and run a Mitch McConnell than it is to run a Ron Paul. I wouldn't necessarily worry too much about a lack of structure that is already in place. What I would think about is what's really near and dear to you. How much do you think that that pervades the group of people that could potentially be voting for you and how do you reach those people potentially through unconventional methods.
And just the last thing I will say on that because it is kind of my area of specialty. I do a lot of work that's focused on online media in the blog sphere. Everyone thinks about the big political blogs on the left and right and this is a real advantage to know that you are not normal. 98% of what you are not concerned about what you are concerned about. And it is potentially going to be a base of people that a lot of other candidates aren't looking at. If you go and you look at what Obama did ahead of the Iowa caucuses in 2008 he could have gone in and just competed for the same existing pool of Democratic caucus goers that Hillary and John Edwards are locked out. What he did he is actually went out and found people who are not engaged in the process and were pissed off about politics generally and were antiwar, concerned about civil liberties erosion and brought them in to the process. He expanded the pie. If you are somebody who is new to this, is getting interested in it and doesn't sort of fit nicely within your county Republican or Democratic structure. Look at what people like Ron Paul have done which is similar. It is the other side of the coin.
>> It is almost noon and I know we started a few minutes late and there was some coming in after Cheryl's lean in. One tool I want to recommend to people there is a book that was written by a retired Ohio judge called How to Win Local Elections. You can find it on Amazon. It comes with a CDROM that has all great simple basic checklists. Judicial candidates in Ohio. For the most part he is from a lower level. Partisan issues are really irrelevant. It is very much a nuts and bolts in terms of those questions you are asking. It is a wonderful book, especially for the municipal local level. The other thing I want to say this number didn't come up but it is bad enough that our Congress has so has such a low percentage of women in it. The national conference of state legislatures follows the number of follows a lot of issues related to state legislatures but it also follows the number of women and that has been going down. I think it peaked a couple of years ago around 15 or 16%. So this is really, really critical for those of you who care about what happens at a state level. Our state legislatures with only a few exceptions have a really poultry number of women in there and it is really critical to be thinking about that level of government because states are really being empowered more and more on so many levels. So I just wanted to point that out. Right now I think it hovers around 14%.
Can you guys stay for one more question?
>> I am Katie from North Dakota and I worked for an elected official, but when you said something about yard signs don't work anymore and I think Liz, you touched on it a bit already. Can you just talk to us about some of the communications strategies that you see that are working right now for women and elections and some of the new strategies? Obviously digital plays a big role in that. We saw that in Obama in '08.
>> I am going to jump in on the yard sign for one second. Yard signs don't vote but what yard signs do do especially
>> No, democrats still do it. We have done we have trained 8,000 women in 42 states around the country and every training we do I mean it is a passionate defense of yard signs.
>> Here is what yard signs do. Yard signs are what they they validate. So they validate and in my community our homes were very privileged community and so it is an acre plus per lot and so driveways are 150 feet away. And the houses are spaced. Corners, intersections are like really prime. It is such a validater. I ran a new media piece of my council race by showing Flickr photos of every yard that had my yard sign in it of another person running for office and I ran it under the banner of plays well with others. That was part of how I used the yard sign. It is true it doesn't get votes. People putting the yard signs are people already voting for you.
>> (Off microphone).
>> And on the right.
>> (Off microphone). And the results were not totally in yet. But in several races there may be some impact before we totally
>> I just want to say if you are going to do yard signs use them in the manner in which they were intended. It is a yard sign and not a highway sign and that is seriously that's where Emily's List will meet you on that. Use them as they were intended which does show if you are in a small town and someone who your pastor or someone has a sign that's a good thing, but I want to answer really quickly about what communications tactics and voter contact is working. And I think that I don't want to I think that in smaller races and in larger races it is traditional targeted voter contact that will win campaigns. And, you know, as much as there is conversations about how Obama do some like Voodoo witch magic with whatever 400 people were sitting in a data cave it is understanding who is go to turn out in an election and talking to the people who are going to turn and persuading them to vote for you. That's how campaigns are won but understanding those really basic principles. And as the field director for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, we had an entire program targeting new caucus goers that had so I just want to state that for the record. We were trying to expand the electorate as well. He just did it better.
>> LIZ MAIR: I will just say on the subject of sort of this now is a tack and data stuff that the Obama guys were doing. I agree with that. There tends to be a focus on the wizardry. What it was in aid of living in potentially one of the states that looked like it could have been the swingiest state in the country this last time. Walking down the hallway in my condo on election day and seeing PostIt notes that had come from Obama volunteers based on data that they had garnered because of people submitting information by using a Facebook log in or whatever, enabling that level of voter contact, seeing all of the emails I am on the Obama list just for curiosity sake seeing the number of emails on election day about we need three more volunteers at X precinct, that's the real purpose of having all of the tack and data stuff.
Now as for communications, which I treat as being distinct from that and I think communications tends to be about getting a broader message out there and getting people who otherwise wouldn't think to go and do whatever the things is to enable to get the data to take a look at it. You come from North Dakota. I am pretty sure that if you look at your last Senate race it is probably fairly apparent that, you know, the maximum of all politics being local I think that probably holds true. And I would definitely not forget that. I think Highcamp ran in my opinion quite a good race. A lot of people on my side of the aisle did not expect her to win. She was quite effective. So I think that's important to bear in mind.
I am a big believer in the ability to each people via online media as opposed to TV and radio and it is important to have a mix of all those things. The audiences are not all the same and ultimately you want to get a good crosssection of all of them. I would think about what your local media outlets are that enable you to do that and then think about opportunities to make and mark maybe on a broader national or regional level and kind of move things up and down.
>> It is about ten after 12 and I know that lunch has already started. If anybody wants to come up and the panelists are willing to stay for a few minutes, please do that. Thank you all very much.
>> In the spirit of what we said earlier here is 20 bucks for your race.
>> JILL MILLER ZIMON: And the cash limit in Ohio is $100.
>> I will give it to my treasurer.
>> If you have a check you can give it to her.
(Session concluded at 12:09 p.m. CST)
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