The evolution of consultants has changed significantly. Years ago, a candidate didn’t run without a consultant. Today, it depends on what level of government the candidate is running for and how much resources they have.
First-time candidates feel they may need to put their resources into a consultant. But if the candidate has a big enough network, can learn a few things and do them well they may not need a political consultant. There are many free campaign schools, whether it be through one of the state-wide parties, the Democrat Party, or the Republican Party. There’s also non-profit organizations that put on campaign schools. The candidate should exhaust those resources before investing into a general consultant that may or may not help.
The candidate should do their homework. This will help in gauging. Understand your strategy, understand the environment you’re running in, what office it is, the timing of it and relying on free resources first to help you understand what you should be thinking about. Do your due diligence. Like anything, do it before you invest your money in a consultant. Ask for referrals. Do as much homework on your particular area and your race and work it out yourself as much as possible.
If the candidate decides they want to hire a political consultant after taking advantage of free resources, they should take a honest look at themselves. See where your strengths and weaknesses are and try to pair yourself with somebody that complements you, brings up your weaknesses, and gives a good balance to the campaign.
Finding someone that complements your personality is extremely important. The candidate wants someone that’s not going to tell them everything they want to hear. A political consultant should be willing to challenge you on a daily basis, on an hour-by-hour basis and someone who will not back down. If the consultant is not strong enough to tell you what you don’t want to hear, but what you need to know, they’re not going to be worth the money that you’re paying them for.