Particularly in local and state politics you are asked to support a candidate and you must consider whether you want to write a sizable check. I consider these four factors in this order:
1. Do I agree with this candidate on his principles and stands on the issues. Typically you will not agree with any candidate on all of the issues so you pick the critical issues and judge accordingly. Critical issues change and the critical issues when you voted may change after they are elected.
2. Is their character trustworthy? Do they have the pertinent experience needed? Trust implies competence; the ability to do the right thing or in politics the right principle, and character; the willingness to do the right thing and the commitment. It does no good if they propose the correct stand on the issues if you can not trust them to do what they say.
3. Is it winnable? If the demographics are so slanted against a candidate that they have no chance of winning then why would anyone write a big check? If the positions are so extreme what are the chances of actually winning? It may make for interesting media, and such a candidate sometimes has a moment in the power spotlight as a spoiler. Sometimes they serve to eventually bring some credibility to previously discredited ideas.
4. If you can support a candidate on the first three criteria then the last critical factor is their commitment to winning. Do they have a competent staff, especially when it comes to raising money. Are they going to spend the time necessary to win? No excuses and whining about family commtiments are acceptable. If you are going to take other people’s money to run for office you owe them a commitment to win. I have seen credible candidates run lousy poorly staffed campaigns. No matter how competent and correct a candidate may be on the positions he will not likely get elected in a highly cometitive campaign with out a competent staff.
In national campaigns the first two points dominate. These are fulltime politicians and usually have a decent staff. In local elections with less politically experienced candidates the last two factors will critically influence their success. Some local candidates who have full time absorbing jobs and young families feel compelled to run for office without understanding the commitment.