The Ascend Fund
Why You (Yes, You!) Should Run For Office in 2022
As the calendar rolls over, many people set New Year’s resolutions. But rather than resolving to exercise more, read more books, or watch less TV, what if you resolved to run for office?
“That’s ridiculous,” I can hear you exclaim. “Reading a book a week or running a marathon seems more doable.” But hear me out:
You don’t have to be the U.S. President to make a difference. In fact, there are more than 500,000 elected offices in the U.S, each of which has a role to play in shaping their community.
In 2022, 469 of 535 Congressional seats are up for election including all 435 U.S. House seats and 24 U.S. Senate seats. There are 230 state executive offices, like secretary of state and attorney general, up for election across 44 states including 36 gubernatorial offices. Additionally, 6,166 of the 7,383 state legislative seats will be on the ballot in November.
And we need more women like you—women from diverse backgrounds, with unique lived experiences that better reflect the composition of our communities—to run for office and bring their voices to the public policy arena.
Where to Start Your Leadership Journey
Curious about running for office, but not sure where to start? Check out She Should Run’s Starter Kit, which includes a quiz to help you decide what office to run for and much more. And just in case you’re worried you’re not qualified to run for office, the motto at She Should Run is: “If you care, you’re qualified.”
When you’re ready to get started, check out the 90-Day Challenge from Vote Run Lead, which includes 30 actions to kickstart your campaign. We love Vote Run Lead’s passion for unleashing women’s political power and how they encourage women to “run as you are.”
I am running against no one. I'd like to be President. I think my experience and my record are greater than any other candidate or any other of the unannounced candidates. It's a real challenge, and that's one of the paramount things. When people keep telling you that you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try it.
-Margaret Chase Smith, candidate for Republican presidential nomination, first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party's convention, 1964
How to Find Your Political Home
Women, especially those from underrepresented communities, face unique barriers when running for office. It’s important to find a space where you feel welcomed, safe, and surrounded by people who will listen, understand, support you, and help you navigate the challenges you’ll face on the campaign trail.
“The next time a woman of whatever color, or a dark-skinned person of whatever sex aspires to be president, the way should be a little smoother because I helped pave it”
― Shirley Chisholm, first Black candidate to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, 1972
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of national groups focused on empowering and supporting women from specific communities to run for office. Here are some of our favorites, many of which we're proud to have partnered with at The Ascend Fund.
The Center for American Women and Politics also offers a Women’s Political Power Map to find specific resources in your state.
When in Doubt, Support Other Women
Not quite ready to run for office yourself? That’s okay. Volunteering for or working on a woman’s campaign is a great way to get started or explore internship or fellowship opportunities. Many of the organizations listed above offer a multitude of ways for you to engage politically.
For example, APAICS offers internships on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and Victory Institute offers training for campaign managers and staff.
Don’t Forget to Lift Up the Next Generation
It’s never too early to encourage young women to become politically engaged. Organizations like IGNITE and Running Start provide resources for girls and young women. Check out IGNITE’s Building Political Ambition Toolkit for girls K-5 or encourage a college student at attend Elect Her, a day-long training program for college women on how to run for student government.
New Year, New Leadership?
As we welcome 2022 and a new calendar year, we hope you’ll consider exploring your role in building a more reflective democracy. With women making up more than 51% of the population, but holding just 31% of elected offices, we have a lot of work to do. But with thousands of offices up for election in 2022, we have a great opportunity as well and there are dozens of organizations that stand ready to help you chart your path to political leadership in the new year.