Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Candidates In Office

Posted by bsflag2007 on Friday, February 9, 2007

It is an issue on the most local level – and on the most national level (from dog catcher to president) — how approporiate is it for one to run an election campaign while serving in an elected office?

Can an individual really do a “good enough” job at his (or her) primary job while running a campaign for another office? When the primary job is in private industry – then it is a question between the employer and the employee — but when “we” are the employers, should we care?

Barak Obama is about to announce his official candidacy for President – though he is only halfway through his first term as a US Senator. It would be hard to argue that he is so experienced in his Senate job that he could “phone it in”.

Of course Sen. Obama is not the only one who is running while serving . When the elected position is a “fulltime job” – can anyone actually give the job the time and attention the “people” deserve while running a campaign?

There are at least three questions here. Should currently serving (and being paid for their service) public officials (employees) be allowed to actively engage in campaigns for other offices? If yes, would it be reasonable to require that some minimum of time and attention be committed to the existing position? If no, how do we justify limiting the “outside activities” of elected officials?

The fundamental question is this: If an individual has campaigned for, and been elected to, a position of trust and service to the people of a district, state, community…. should that job be given the full time and attention of the candidate until the term is over or the individual resigns the office?

One caveat – I think it would be reasonable to apply a different standard to elected (or appointed) positions which are by definition “part time”. (like the HoCo school board, or our own HoCo County Council) .

Comments, opinions would be welcome,

Cindy Vaillancourt

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2 Responses to “Candidates In Office”

  1. Melissa said

    It seems whatever rule on is put on to limit this type of activity, so the electorate isn’t shortchanged, would also have to apply when officials become sick and incapacitated to the point they can’t perform duties, enter rehab facilities…

  2. Politics IS campaigning said

    Almost all politicians are campaigning during their term, whether or not they have announced their candidacies.

    Look at the House members – their re-election campaign starts almost immediately.

    A Senator like Obama has an incentive to do a good job in the Senate, because he will lose the nomination if he “phones it in” while campaigning.

    Also, he will want to be re-elected to the Senate if he loses the presidency.

    You could also argue that candidates like Hillary have been campaigning for higher office ever since being elected to the Senate.

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