You’ve spent months, perhaps years, preparing yourself for a congressional campaign. You know your values and are clear about supporting a progressive policy agenda, you believe you can succeed, your family is on board, you have a base of supporters, you studied the FEC Campaign Guide —and you have a personal plan for how to handle the next 18 or so months emotionally, mentally, and financially. 

You are about to embark on a journey to build an organization, because that’s what running a campaign really is. While many external factors that decide whether you win the election are out of your control that will , the bigger the organization you build, the greater the probability you’ll get through the primary and the general election. But regardless of the election outcome, by building your campaign organization you are building the progressive movement, advancing progressive policies, and inspiring countless people in your community to actively participate in civic engagement.

While we are not attorneys or accountants and always recommend that you consult with other trusted sources, here is a sequence of steps you will likely follow to become a congressional candidate. As things may change, it’s also wise to triple check with the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Secretary of State in the state where you are running for any new regulations. 

  1. Register your campaign’s website domain. (You can choose from many providers—to make the process easier, register your domain and website hosting in one place. We like Dreamhost for its price and ease of use.)
  2. Set up your campaign’s email account. (You’ll need multiple email accounts for your campaign operations. Google Workspace is a good choice for making collaboration easy).
  3. Secure hosting for your website.
  4. Secure your campaign’s social media accounts.
  5. Get a PO Box for your campaign’s political action committee from your local U.S. Postal Service branch. (You’ll need a campaign’s mailing address and may want to keep your private residential address separate.)
  6. File your Statement of Candidacy (Form 2)
    • Read about it here
    • File your Form 2 here
  7. Register your candidacy with your respective Secretary of State. Rules and procedures vary by state.
  8. Get an EIN here. (You’ll need it to open a bank account required for your Statement of Organization).
  9. Get a bank account. (Choose a bank with good online banking and mobile check deposit services).
  10. Identify a treasurer. (You can be your own treasurer if necessary to start with, but try to identify somebody who can take this on for the long run.)
  11. File the Statement of Organization with FEC (Form 1) – within 15 days of filing of your Statement of Candidacy 
    • Read about it here
    • File your Form 1 here

Congratulations. You just became an official candidate, are ready to start building your campaign infrastructure and raising money for the organization.