Before deciding to campaign for federal office, an individual may first want to “test the waters”—that is, explore the feasibility of becoming a candidate. For example, the individual may want to travel around the country to determine if there is sufficient support for his or her candidacy. An individual who merely conducts selected testing the waters activities does not have to register or report as a candidate even if the individual raises or spends more than $5,000 on those activities (the dollar threshold that would normally trigger candidate registration). Nevertheless, the individual must comply with the contribution limits and prohibitions.
An individual is no longer testing the waters when s/he:
• Makes or authorizes statements referring to him/herself as a candidate;
• Uses general public political advertising to publicize his/her intention to campaign;
• Raises more money than what is reasonably needed to test the waters, or amasses funds to be used after the candidacy is established;
• Conducts activities over a protracted period of time or shortly before the election; or
• Takes action to qualify for the ballot.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Exploring Presidential Races
The Federal Election Commission lists dozens of people who have filed a Statement of Candidacy (FEC Form 2) with the FEC to register as a 2012 presidential candidate. Most of them, however, are not serious contenders. Of those currently on the list, only the following have any real chance of nomination or election:
One longshot candidate who nevertheless has some plausible qualifications is Former Governor Buddy Roemer (R-LA).
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) has a website, but has not yet registered with the FEC. Several other major figures may seek the Republican presidential nomination but have not announced their intentions.
Pawlenty, Romney and Roemer all have "exploratory" or "testing the waters" committees. FEC defines such organizations this way: