As an incumbent what is the best way to prevent an opponent?
A.) Be the best legislator (attorney general, city councilor, etc.) that you can be so that no one could possibly ever be better than you and want to run against you.
B.) Raise a lot of money before the election so the battle is harder for a possible opponent to come forward.
C.) Get really lucky.
If you answered A. Ding Ding! You are a winner.
But we all know the reality of being an elected official. You can never make everyone happy.
As a political fundraiser then obviously I like B.
Raise a lot of money way ahead of filing and scare any possible challenger away.
If you can get your campaign funds high enough it will make the decision more difficult for anyone to run against you.
If you have $100,000 sitting in the bank a year ahead of the election. No one will want to challenge you. They will start from $0. That is a lot of difference to make up.
Fundraise ahead of time to save yourself time later.
It is a tough thing to get elected officials thinking about raising money in advance, but if you think about it strategically it makes a lot of sense. Campaigns take up a lot of time, money and energy. If you, as an elected official, can avoid that by doing some fundraising ahead of time, wouldn’t you?
It is also an important thing for campaign, or PACs to think about: incumbent protection. There are always big upsets, incumbents you never expect to lose that do. So do a little work ahead of time and protect your races. Protect your elected officials by fundraising.
One more point I want to make is that the size of the “war chest” will vary among races. For a seat in a state house you may only need $45,000 to scare away potential challengers, for a statewide office you could be looking at $500,000 or more. Exorbitant amounts are not necessary.
Do the pre-work fundraising to prevent an opponent and during the campaign sit back and watch the election from a different angle.