Candidates Learn How to Win at the Farm Bureau Candidate School


The Montana Farm Bureau hosted a comprehensive two-day campaign school Nov. 19-20 at the Red Lion Inn in Helena.  This in-depth campaign training teaches participants how to evaluate the candidate and the electorate, build a campaign structure, raise money, enlist allies, create coalitions, and get last-minute tips to win.

The school was open to any candidate from all electable positions across the state ranging from county commissioner to the Supreme Court to the State Senate. The 14 candidates received detailed information on running a campaign from start to finish, which included hands-on activities and mock TV interviews. 

Image is everything, according to trainer Pete Hanebutt. “Campaigns are all about perception,” said Hanebutt. He noted that one person influences seven others and directed the candidates to concentrate on voters who can be swayed—not those who already support you or those who definitely do not.

Having a winning campaign starts with a formal plan and hiring a campaign manager, setting a campaign calendar, developing communication strategies and recruiting volunteers.

Hanebutt encouraged candidates to get as much earned media as they can, including making an announcement to run for office, then announcing when they file. He encouraged candidates to do direct mail pieces along with billboards, radio, television and newspaper ads. 

Building coalitions who support a candidate’s position is important. “This brings like-minded people together to work on their one interest. Think of all of the people you interact with–church, professional associations, kids’ friends, neighbors. Those can all support you in many ways with your campaign,” he said.

In the final weeks, targeting precincts, going door-to-door, sending a final mailing and poll watching are all critical for victory.

“Develop your campaign to win,” said Hanebutt. “Remember, a winning attitude means a winning candidate.”

Carmine Mowbray, who is running for Senate District 6 which encompasses North Lake County and Kalispell, found the campaign school to be very worthwhile. “It reinforced my commitment to reach out to as many people as I can, and I look forward to meeting my constituents,” she said.

Walt Sales who is running for House District 69 in the Gallatin Valley, noted, “I was impressed with the different aspects of running a campaign. This gives me encouragement on how to put together a good team and serve our constituents.”



Source:  Montana Farm Bureau

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