David Boling, a lawyer who finished third in a field of five in the Democratic primary race for 2nd District Congress in 2010, has an op-ed in the Washington Post about the experience. In short: Most of a candidate’s time is spent raising money.
During my run, I spent 70 percent to 80 percent of my time on the phone asking people for money. On one day, I made about 90 calls. But my campaign staff was constantly pushing me to make even more. In their view, my phone calls were too long —they wanted me to limit each one to just a couple of minutes. Usually I would talk for more than 10 minutes, trying to connect personally with the potential donor but eating up precious time that I could have used to call others.
This kind of work is not glamorous and often discouraging. Before becoming a candidate, I had been a Justice Department attorney and chief of staff to a U.S. congressman [Vic Snyder]: When I had those jobs, people returned my phone calls right away. Once I became a candidate, lots of people weren’t so eager to call me back, because they knew I’d be asking for money.
Winning would’t have changed things, Boling writes. Elected representatives must set aside “call time” to keep the money coming year-round.
He suggests that skill at raising money trumps skill at making policy. Is this the kind of government we want? Or is it the kind of government we deserve if we allow Citizens United to stand and it gets even worse/
Boling might be better off these days. He’s vice president of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation, which arranges professional exchanges for government managers and a program aimed at developing Japanese leaders. He’s writing a book about his run for office.