The Costs of Candidacy

There’s a lot of money thrown around in politics. I get emails every day, begging me for money. From Democratic organizations, from the party, from candidates. Often it’s not even clear what that money goes to.

So here’s a reality check: If you’re running for office, there are some real, genuine costs involved, and most likely, unless you’re independently wealthy, you will need help paying for them. Here are some of the most common expenses you’re likely to face at the beginning of a campaign.

~$100: P.O. box. Don’t use your home address for your campaign.
~$30–70: Domain names, even if it’s only so your opponent doesn’t steal “yourname dot com” and turn it into a porn site
~$200: Logo for your campaign and business card design, created by a graphic artist
~$55: Business cards
~$20–30: Website purchase
~$800–900: VAN access, the database of all voters in your district used to create call and walk lists
~$350: Filing fee
~$450 down, $150 per month: NGP access, the database system used to track donations, events, volunteers and campaign activities
~$150–300: Stationery and supplies
~$2,500–5,000/month, depending on skills and experience: Your first big staff expense, a finance manager, who may also become your campaign manager

So, if you’re not the one running for office, but the one with a little bit of money to donate, what does this mean to you? Well, it means that the candidates do need your help. And you’ll be seeing many of them here on Code Blue over the next year who are running in the Virginia House of Delegates, and many running for Congress around the country the following year.

Be wise and selective with your money. Take the time to research the candidates. Learn what they believe and what issues they care about. You can even check out their quarterly financial statements (on to see who else has donated to their campaign, and make sure you’re okay with that. Find candidates you feel passionate about and support them in every way you can, adopt them as your own. You don’t have to feel like you’re throwing your cash into a big money pit, you can feel like you’ve invested in this particular person’s political career. It’s much more satisfying than clicking the button in one of those anonymous emails!

Cindy Cunningham