How to Become a Congressman

by Culture & Society Editor

The U.S. Congress is the legislative branch of the United States government. Congress consists of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators are elected every 6 years. Representatives, commonly called Congressmen or Congresswomen, are elected every 2 years. To become a Congressman, follow these steps.

Develop leadership and personal skills. Public-speaking skills, interpersonal skills and a background in local leadership aid a candidate in convincing the public.

Determine the reasons for running. Trite phrases, such as "to serve fellow citizens," do not resound with voters. Candidates must articulate their message to voters. A strong knowledge of the political process, current affairs and national issues is essential.

File for office. Be certain to comply with all state and federal requirements. Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives the specific requirements for running for Congress. For the House of Representatives, a candidate must be at least 25 years old, a citizen of the U. S. for at least 7 years and a resident of the state the candidate would represent. For the Senate, a candidate must be at least 30 years old, a citizen of the U. S. for at least 9 years and a resident of the state the candidate would represent. State law dictates the manner of the elections, such as requirements to be placed on the ballot and filing for office. Check with the state or local election official for state requirements.

Form a Congressional campaign committee. A campaign committee is made up of friends, family and associates committed to helping the candidate raise money and win the election. The appointment of a campaign treasurer, who will complete all campaign finance reports, is mandatory for ethics disclosure.

Open a campaign bank account and raise funds. Follow restrictions on collecting and reporting campaign funds. A separate bank account is needed to keep campaign funds separate from personal funds. Congressional races are expensive. Be prepared to raise a lot of money.

Recruit workers. Paid staff, volunteers and paid political consultants all play an important role in a campaign. Open a campaign office, complete with phones and computers.

Campaign hard. Talk to as many voters as possible. Raise money to pay for campaign advertising. Congressional candidates can spend 18 hours a day campaigning. Stay healthy and keep the stamina up and the stress level down in order to become a Congressman.

Tips

  • Before running for Congress, be active in the community and the political party of choice. This lays the foundation for a future run for office.
  • While the issues are important, remember that politics is really about relationships. Maintain a contact file and use it often. A successful Congressman uses this often during a career.

Warning

  • Always obey local, state and federal election and ethics laws when running for office.

Photo Credits

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