Qualifications to Run for Congress
What does it take to run for a seat in Congress?
Formally, not much. Informally, a lot! The required qualifications are found in Article 1 of the Constitution:
House of Representatives
- 25 years of age
- a citizen of the United States for 7 years
- at the time of the election, be a resident in the state of the district to be represented.
- 30 years of age
- a citizen of the United States for 9 years
- at the time of election, be a resident of the state to be represented.
The informal qualifications for any House or Senate candidate include:
- the desire to devote oneself to public service
- the ability to attract a network of support
- the ability to raise enough money to fund a campaign and pay
for an office,
staff, literature, TV time, etc.
- knowledge of national and world events
- the ability to articulate positions and ideas
- the ability to debate
- familiarity with the district and/or state
- good people skills: an affable personality with the ability to forge relationships
- the ability to listen to conflicting views and hear a consensus
- the ability to take constant criticism and remain focused an understanding family!
- good health and lots of energy.
In order to win a seat in the U.S. Congress, a candidate has to have the ability to gain the attention of the voters and give them an opportunity to get to know his/her qualifications, positions, and political goals. That requires meeting potential voters face to face and lots of advertising.
Meeting voters requires a lot of days and evenings spent speaking to groups, and attending events, such as fairs, parades, civic club activities, company picnics, banquets, and municipal gatherings. Advertising by radio, television and by direct mail requires raising money by calling people directly and asking them for donations, as well as attending a great many fund-raising events and receptions.
For more information, check out the Capitol Corner column on: Career Paths to Congress.