Having candidates reflect and appeal to the diverse audiences they hope to represent is increasingly important—especially as the electorate continues to trend majority-minority. So, what are Republicans and Democrats doing to both recruit diverse candidates and speak authentically to diverse audiences? Attendees heard from seasoned experts during AAPC’s December 15th webinar, including Lorena Chambers (Chambers Lopez Strategies), Ruben Barrales (GROW Elect), Clark Lee (California Democratic Party), and Jessica Patterson (California Trailblazers) as they discussed these trends and also analyzed how to develop an effective candidate brand that will garner a matrix of support across communities.
- The most successful candidates have had some connection to campaigns before. They know the process before they run.
- It’s important to look for a candidate that matches the district best—considering factors like ethnicity, political party, and issue position. Though, this isn’t to say you cannot have a quality candidate who is not the same ethnicity as their voter base.
- There are some specific challenges in situations where your candidate is a different ethnicity than your constituents. The biggest challenge is building legitimacy with those voters. You need to get endorsements that add credibility and emphasize the positions of your candidate that align with your voters.
- Candidates should have previous legislative experience, as well as experience being leaders in their communities.
- Biggest piece of candidate advice: Help someone run for office. Get involved and get the experience before you run yourself.
About Ruben: Ruben Barrales has an extensive background in both government and private industry, with experience as an elected official and as an advocate for business. Ruben Barrales most recently served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce-the largest regional Chamber of Commerce in California.
- Women focus more on work/life balance when thinking of running for office. We as consultants need to be the support and encouragement that women need, so that they can successfully run.
- The number one characteristic that makes a candidate successful is humility. We don’t want a know-it-all candidate. A candidate that is happy to learn and work hard is the candidate that will be most successful.
- When recruiting for elected positions, we go into the community and try to find the people that are most engaged.
- Raising money is a teachable skill. It’s more of a challenge for women as men are socially trained for rejection.
- Biggest piece of advice: don’t confuse movement with progress. Busy work doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making any positive advancement.
About Jessica: Jessica Millan Patterson is a wife, mother, and political professional. As CEO of California Trailblazers Jessica recruits and trains candidates throughout California to run for California state legislature. Jessica has served the California Republican Party, Republican National Committee, Statewide and National Candidates for over a decade.
- Generally speaking, civic and community involvement is extremely important when finding a candidate.
- Candidates need to always be thinking of what they can do for their constituents. This kind of connection is vital when recruiting candidates for elected positions.
- You always need to be talking to your voter base appropriately. In some areas, this might mean you need to be communicating multi-lingually.
- The best way to learn how to raise money for a campaign is to get on the phone and start doing it. More time reaching out to folks equals more money for your campaign.
About Clark: Clark Lee is the Director of Political Affairs and Communications of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP), the largest local Democratic Party entity in the nation, representing nearly 2.5 million Democrats across 88 cities. He oversees its communications, endorsement, campaign, and legislative advocacy operations.
A huge thank you to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!