Polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and the 2022 elections are all over except for the counting (and the lawsuits). Bye-bye campaign ads! Campaign season is over. 

But wait! Campaign seasons 2023 and 2024 are just beginning. Former President Donald Trump almost announced his 2024 run at a Pennsylvania rally last week, and promises it will be “very, very soon.” Before the vote totals are final, even. 

He’s not the only one. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a viral video shared only on social media that proposes that when God needed a fighter, he sent DeSantis. “And on the eighth day,” a deep-voiced narrator says in DeSantis’ video, “God looked down on his planned paradise and said: ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter.”

Trump was not amused at his potential 2024 rival, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a Saturday rally. Trump did not endorse DeSantis for reelection and DeSantis did not attend Florida rallies with the former president. 

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Besides the next presidential election, in 2024 all federal representatives and another third of U.S. senators will be up for election. In Utah, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor and treasurer will be up for election, as well as all state representatives and the other half of the Utah Senate. Believe me, they’re already thinking of what that next campaign will look like. 

There is another election before then — 2023 is a municipal election year. Filing is just months away, but waiting to decide until right before the filing period is too late. Preparation begins now (although you won’t be inundated with campaign ads just yet).

If you’ve ever considered running for local office, this column is your tap on the shoulder encouraging you to do it! There are some important questions you probably want to answer before making a final decision, however.

The first question — and one you’ll be asked a zillion times on the campaign trail — is why do you want to run? Do you see issues in your city you want to work on? Do you fundamentally disagree with decisions currently being made? What specifically do you bring to the table? Can you distill your answers into a statement of a couple dozen words? People tune out quickly when the answers ramble. 

On a related note, can you promote yourself without apology but also without excessive arrogance? Voters really do prefer to vote for people who are “nice” and who can express why they’re the best person for the job. It can be a fine line between downplaying your skills and arrogance, but try to walk it with finesse. 

Next, answer yourself honestly when asking if this is the right time for you and for your family to undertake a political campaign. Does your day job offer enough flexibility for a campaign and then public service? If you have a significant other, what will their role be? (Not campaign manager — it’s too hard to be objective.) Do you have enough time and “brain space” for a campaign? My rule of thumb: take however much time and emotional energy you think it will take and triple it. 

Can you afford a political campaign right now? There are not just financial costs (and fundraising is a part of every campaign — and almost every one dreads it), but there are also physical, emotional, mental, relational, reputational, occupational and other costs. Sometimes, the honest answer is it’s not worth it, and that’s OK. There are lots of ways to make a difference that don’t involve being in elected office. 

Do you know what running a campaign entails? There are so many moving parts — branding, online presence, communication plan, voter identification, get-out-the-vote, speech and debate prep, consistent and easily-identifiable campaign theme, fundraising, legal deadlines, volunteer recruitment and management, coalition creation, key influencer collaboration, gathering advisory committees (kitchen cabinets), fundraising, budgeting, signs and swag. If campaigning is new to you, who can you turn to to learn what you need to know?

Finally, you do not need to “know it all.” In fact, there’s no way you can, so please don’t wait to run until you do. (And please don’t pretend you do know it all — we all know you don’t.) Don’t hesitate to ask questions. You can learn something from every person you meet. One great question to ask is this one: “Why would a rational person hold this view that is so different from mine?” Then, keep your mind open to the answers. 

If 2023 or 2024 are your years to run, go for it! If not, but you want to in the future, you can volunteer on campaigns, become an expert in certain policy areas, work on growing your network or work on developing/polishing your communication skills. 

In the meantime, enjoy the brief reprise from campaign ads. All too soon, they’ll be everywhere. 

Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy and a former member of the Utah House of Representatives. As a candidate and consultant, she has won campaigns and lost campaigns. She thinks winning is more fun.