Category: From the Trail

From the Trail, Part 4: Volunteers are Essential

You cannot run a good campaign without good volunteers. It’s impossible. All of the money in the world cannot buy the enthusiasm, passion & commitment that comes from people who are willing to give their time & energy to your cause. With that said, it is very challenging to recruit & retain volunteers. A lot of people will show up for an event if you ask them to. Not many people will show up repeatedly in the heat of an Arkansas summer and work for you. You must be able to retain them.

And you must be more than a good talker to retain volunteers because volunteering for your campaign is more than just physical or emotional labor. When volunteers step out on the streets with your t-shirts & stickers on, they are quite literally placing their reputation & their personal credibility on the line. Therefore, you must be a candidate that is worthy of their trust & support. Sounds obvious enough, but if people do not believe in you, they will not volunteer for your cause.

Given my background as former Chairman of Harding University College Republicans, I had a lot of experience recruiting & retaining manpower that I was able to put to use in my campaign. Most of my volunteers came to more than one campaign event & they worked their tails off. In a city council district of barely 2,000 registered voters, we had 50 volunteers on our team. I am not sure Searcy has ever seen such a force. We could not have gotten as close as we did without them. I am extremely grateful.

If you are considering a run for public office & you don’t think you can organize volunteers yourself, find a Volunteer Coordinator. There is nothing more important to your campaign.

Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot & former Searcy City Council candidate. In his spare time, he volunteers with various political campaigns & writes for The Liberty Bell. Contact Nicholas at & follow him on Twitter.

From the Trail, Part 3: Conflict of Perception

In a post-election discussion with my campaign manager, it became clear that there remains a large ‘conflict of perception’ in local politics.  The conflict exists between the perceptions of those in office or the “establishment” about themselves and the perceptions of the common man in regards to those elected officials.  Many in the establishment (with some exception) see themselves as the kingmakers of their particular kingdom, i.e. their city or county.  But those under their rule typically underestimate and/or under-appreciate the scope of their local leaders’ authority.

Constantly throughout the campaign, I visited with citizens who had no idea what a city council did or why it was important.  At the same time, the current establishment was busy telling folks how prestigious their job is, how difficult & complex it is & how no common person (like myself) could ever hold their position without the city government imploding.

The truth, as usual, can be found somewhere in the middle. Continue reading

From the Trail, Part 2: Be Yourself

As I briefly alluded to in Part 1 of this series, voters crave authenticity. This means that in order to be a good candidate & appeal to the voters, you need two things. First, a strong knowledge of who you are. Second, a serious commitment to remain who you are.

To be a good candidate, you have to be completely comfortable in your own skin. You have to be able to show up to a fish fry or a festival & convince yourself that everyone there wants to talk to you. Then you have to talk to every person there because, as you just convinced yourself, they want you to. It takes a great amount of mental toughness & stamina, but that’s what it takes. In order to pull this off successfully, you have to be comfortable with yourself. You have to know where you stand on key issues & be ready to defend those positions. Continue reading

From the Trail, Part 1: It’s Personal.

Last week, I wrote about why I ran for Searcy City Council.  I felt it was important to set the record straight, especially after so many rumors were circulated during the campaign.  Now that the dust has settled a bit, I thought I should share some lessons I learned about running a serious, positive campaign in a cut-throat political climate.  Obviously I do not have all of the answers (if I did, I would likely be alderman-elect right now).  But you can bet I learned more during this campaign than in my four years of undergraduate study in political science.

I have decided to call this series “From the Trail.”  Every few days, I hope to post some musings about my experience.  Hopefully some of this information will be beneficial to those of you who run for public office in the future.

So this is Part 1, titled “It’s Personal.”  Politics, particularly at the local level, is solely personal, in both the most positive & most negative connotations of the term. Continue reading