Must a candidate have held a previous political office as a pre-req for running for statewide office?
Recently someone asked me why Jaime Radtke deserved to run for the United States Senate when she had not previously held any office prior to this run. The assertion is that the office is too big to run for if you haven’t already “put in your time” and climbed the political ladder. Nonsense.
However, there is something to be said for having held office. I believe the perfect candidate has held a lower office before running for a larger office. The benefit is that they have been in politics, they understand the minutia of the legislative process, they understand how to talk to the press, how long to shake a person’s hand for, how to answer a difficult question on the spot, they have given stump speeches they have hopefully accomplished something and they now have a record to run on. The benefit of holding office for a short time is that we don’t want lifelong politicians *COjohnUGmccainH* running because they now “already know how the system works.”
Unfortunately, many times this demand that a candidate hold previous office creates the political monster — lifelong politicians. The lifelong politicians has an insatiable appetite to climb the ladder.
It has lost touch with regular people and been blinded by power. It think it knows everything about compromise and how to “get things done.” It must have a neutral record to run for the next office. It has lost touch with it’s constituents. It may have even received praise from the press for their bipartisan efforts throughout the years and now acquired an insatiable but quiet taste to be accepted by the MSM and therefore ready to sell out conservative efforts for the greater good. This lifelong politician is elected conservative, turns really liberal, and spends the rest of his term slowly voting his way across the spectrum back to the right. The lifelong politician cannot be trusted by the base, he can only be trusted to try and get re-elected.
Candidates that aren’t ripe can be as bad because they tend to lose elections. Christine O’Donnell comes to mind. A candidate has to be ready for prime time. If they are going to be singing the praises of the constitution, they have to know what the amendments to the constitution say. They have to have already received debate experience prior to their first big debate. Running for U.S. Senate doesn’t afford you time to make your gaffes on the run, you have to be ready for prime time. I wouldn’t vote for a candidate that isn’t ripe in their career because it has all the makings of a political disaster.
But, does that mean that government experience is a pre-requisite to running for statewide office? No. And even less experience is needed to run for a legislative position than an executive position.
If someone doesn’t have a political voting record to look at, we look at their other accomplishments. What is there business experience, what have they accomplished, have they been involved in politics before, do they have any trail of standing by principal. Are they leaders in their community, were they drafted to run or did they determine that the country just wouldn’t be the same without the blessing of their entering the race.
These are pertinent questions. Is Herman Cain disqualified from running for President because he has never run for public office? No. But his lack of experience in dealing with a legislature and leading a state tends to reflect negatively on him when he is requesting that we allow him to lead a nation. On the other hand, how have our governor’s done? Most of them are the reason we are where we are now. But running as an executive is inherently running to lead, to push an agenda and to convince a legislature to follow you and pass an agenda. Running as a legislature requires the ability to vote and lead by example side-by-side with other leaders.
Business leaders should not be stopped from running.
Likewise, political leaders that have led by example and with blood, sweat, and tears should not be stopped from running simply because they haven’t climbed the ladder.
Jaime Radtke since graduating from college fifteen years ago has worked under the late Senator Jesse Helms in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; worked privately and with the Virginia government on taxes and spending efficiency; worked for the Virginia Conservative PAC as political and Grassroots director challenging rino and moderate republicans to vote conservatively; started a political consulting firm with the aim of electing conservative candidates; and most recently became the President of the Richmond Tea Party and Chairwoman of the Federation of Tea Party patriots in Virginia.
This is someone who has not held office, but has had her thumb on the pulse of the conservative movement and has even served as the grassroots heartbeat in pushing forward our values and goals. Her experience exceeds many other republicans seeking this seat.
On the other hand George Allen had been a lifelong politician until he made a racist remark in his Senate re-election campaign. Yet people are arguing that his one-term Senate experience makes him better qualified than Radtke. Yet, Radtke has been working with us, side-by-side in the field, at the phone banks, in our neighborhoods for years. That is the kind of experience we need are candidates to have. What has George Allen done since he lost his seat? He has written and released a book called, “What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports.”
In order for experience to count, it needs to be the right kind of experience.