My Blog

April 19, 2017

Dr. Politics: Developing Your First Donor File

By Dwight Patel

So, you have now filed as a candidate, gotten a treasurer and put together a Facebook Live video when you went to Annapolis to file your papers to run for office.  Now you need to start raising money!  For a first-time candidate, it’s a struggle to find donor lists, since other campaigns have learned that such contacts are like gold and don’t share that information.  Your first option is to review your Christmas card Lists.  This is the best place to start because you are sending cards to friends and family, who are more likely to support you by sending a few bucks.


When I ran for the first time in 1994, I was 22 years old. My Christmas card list consisted of about 15 names of friends who were in college and few relatives. Then I went to my folks’ Christmas card list. I was able to use that combined group twice, which totaled about 100 names.  My first announcement said that I was thinking of running for the MD House of Delegates and would need about $30,000.00 (in 1994 dollars) to mount a credible campaign.  My second correspondence was thank you notes with a suggestion that they give me one or two names in their network to donate to my campaign.   I suggested between $50 – $250.00 and left a blank for another amount to donate.


After I sent out the initial mailing (BTW I did it all on my dining room table with my campaign manager and my best friend), I got the first wave of responses a week later when my friend and campaign chairman’s mom gave $500.00. I immediately put a gold star next to her name, along with others who gave generously.  I developed a system of Gold, Silver, Red and Blue stars.  Gold was $500 and above –Silver was $100 to $499, Red was $50 to $99 and blue was anything from $1 to $49.



In response to the first wave of donations, always do a handwritten thank you note at the very least, and when you receive donations of $100.00 or more, pick up the phone and personally thank them.  Why call and write a thank you note, you may be asking yourself?  HERE’S THE ANSWER: If anyone thinks enough of you to donate $100 to your campaign, they believe in you, AND it also gives you the opportunity to ask them to host an event for you, which would be a great opportunity to meet and greet to collect business cards from their friends, which thereby lets you build your own donor base.


All of my donors became shareholders in Dwight, Inc.  One of my political mentors told me to give them each a title and put them to work.  So, I followed his advice.

Donor Class Range Title
Gold $500 + Colonials
Silver $100 to $499 Terps
Red $50 to $99 Blazers
Blue $1 to $49 Eagles


As you might have guessed I picked my school mascots for my titles.


I asked my Gold and Silver Donors to join a finance council.  My friend Andy’s mom was the chairman of my finance council.   She had a gift for getting her friends and people in her network to part with money for her son’s friend’s campaign for House of Delegates.   My finance council consisted of Andy’s mom, my brother, my doctor and my dad’s lawyer.


My first mailer cost me $36.80 for First Class stamps. The paper and envelopes cost me about 35 bucks.  I hand wrote each request to give it the personal touch.  So, I did my first mailing for a grand total of $71.80.  I made about $7,500.00 after using that first list. (P.S.: It isn’t normal to get this kind of return.  I think I got much of this support because one I am the youngest in the entire family, and I was 22 years old, studying Architecture at the University of Maryland GO TERPS!!!)


I grew my list of 115 to 639 names, with referrals from the initial 115 I started with. The list included phone numbers and addresses. In 1994 not many people had email – In fact, the only ones with emails were people my age.  So, I had a few emails of my friends. What was amazing was that the initial mailer brought in a total of 639 names.


After going through my high school yearbook, and adding people I went to school with at George Washington, I got another 127 names to go after.  Other resources that I’d use if I were running today would be Chamber of Commerce directories to do a cross reference with Data Center to identify the Republicans and create prospecting lists; I’d also hit up the George Washington and University of Maryland Schools of Architecture alums as well as Montgomery Blair High School Alumni, since we had the very first Republican club in any Montgomery County Public School with 80 + members.   I’d also still start with the Christmas card list.


Final Thoughts


Fundraising is hard, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get more than 10% return on your first mailing.  In the world of campaign fundraising direct mail, you are doing a great Job if you get 10% from a prospecting list.  Don’t rely on just direct mail– Use the internet, buy targeted Facebook ads, and don’t under-estimate the power of Twitter.  Remember this is a marathon not a sprint, so be like the tortoise and not the hare.  You want the small streams of cash coming in, which will become the mighty river, and YOUR CAMPAIGN IS THAT RIVER.


One More Thing…


I highly recommend taking the campaign fundraising class taught at the Leadership Institute (   If you click this link , you can register for the LI Fundraising School in September.   If you are interested in taking this class, please reach out to me at, I’d be happy to call Morton Blackwell and see if can get you a discount on School you are interested in attending.

March 5, 2017

Dr. Politics:

Dr. Politics:
So, You Want to Run for Office in 2018
by Dwight Patel

Congratulations on your decision to run for elected office in Maryland in 2018. I have run twice myself, and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.  The offices we need to field candidates for in Maryland in 2018 include the entire State Senate and House of Delegates as well as 8 seats in the
U. S. House of Representatives plus County Council/Commissioners, County Executive, Sheriff, and Registrar of Wills.  On the state level, we will be working hard to re-elect Governor Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, an Attorney General and a State Comptroller, along with Circuit Court Judges and members of your local Republican Central Committees.

Federal Offices
Office Sought Age U.S. Citizen State Citizen/ Resident District Resident Term of Office Election Year
President 35 Natural born Citizen 14 years a resident within the United States   4 years from January 20th 2020
Vice President 35 Natural born Citizen 14 years a resident within the United States   4 years from January 20th 2020
U.S. Senate 30 9 years & US CITIZEN Inhabitant of the State at the time of the election   6 years from January 3rd 2018
U.S. Congress 25 7 years & US CITIZEN Inhabitant of the State at the time of the election   2 years from January 3rd 2018


State Offices
Office Sought Age State Citizen/ Resident District Resident Term of Office Election Year
Governor 30 5 years & US CITIZEN   4 years from 3rd Wed. in January 2018
Lt. Governor 30 5 years & US CITIZEN   4 years from 3rd Wed. in January 2018
Comptroller   US CITIZEN   4 years from 3rd Wed. in January 2018
Attorney General   10 years & US CITIZEN   4 years and Practice law in MD for 10 years 2018
State Senate 25 1 year & US CITIZEN 6 months 4 years from 2nd Wed. in January 2018
House of Delegates 21 1 year & US CITIZEN 6 months 4 years from 2nd Wed. in January 2018
Circuit Court Judge 30 5 years & US CITIZEN 6 months 15 years or until the age of 70 and Member – Maryland Bar 2018



County Offices
Office Sought Age State Citizen/ Resident District Resident Term of Office Election Year
County Executive   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
County Council   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
Co. Commissioners   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
County Treasurer   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
State’s Attorney   US CITIZEN Subdivision 2 years – Member – Maryland Bar 4 years 2018
Clerk of the Courts   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
Register of Wills   US CITIZEN   4 years 2018
Orphans Court Judge   US CITIZEN Subdivision 1 year 4 years 2018
Sheriff 25 5 years Reside w/in subdivision 4 years 2018
Board of Education   US CITIZEN   Vary 2018


Baltimore City Offices
Office Sought Age City Citizen/ Resident District Resident Term of Office Election Year
Mayor 25 a resident and qualified voter of Baltimore City for at least 1 year preceding the election   4 years  
City Comptroller 25 a resident and qualified voter of Baltimore City for at least 1 year preceding the election   4 years  
President City Council 25 a resident and qualified voter of Baltimore City for at least 1 year preceding the election   4 years  
Member At Large City Council 21 resident and qualified voter of Baltimore City for 1 year preceding the election   4 years  
District Member City Council 21 resident and qualified voter of the district for which you seek office at least 1 year preceding the election   4 years  







Party Offices
Office Sought Age State Citizen/ Resident District Resident Term of Office Election Year
Central Committee       4 years 2018


These are Maryland’s 8 Congressional Districts

Congressional District 1 – Represented by Congressman Dr. Andy Harris of MD-1 – Republican holds seat – No need for candidates to run in CD1.  Vote Andy Harris for Congress in CD-1 and keep 1 Red.
Congressional District 2 – Currently represented by Democrat Dutch Ruppersburger, who has represented MD-2 since 2002. He has voted for every single tax increase that has come down the pike.  We need to find a good candidate to oppose him.  This seat was previously held by former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and the late Rep. Helen Bentley.  Let’s make CD-2 Red once more in 2018.
Congressional District 3 – Represented by John Sarbanes, the Uber liberal son of Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Sarbanes – Oxley fame.  John Sarbanes, like every other Democrat, supported Barack Obama’s radical agenda. Let’s make CD-3 Red in 2018.
Congressional District 4 – Represented by failed Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, who was elected in 2016, and joined the chorus of Trump haters in Washington.  Let’s make CD-4 Red in 2018.
Congressional District 5 – Represented by Rep. Steny “Tax, Tax, Tax, Spend, Spend, Spend Democrat” Hoyer.  In 1992, Rep. Hoyer nearly had a heart attack when Gov. Hogan was the projected winner, but was saved by mystery boxes of ballots that managed to show up and put Steny Hoyer over the top.   Let’s make CD-5 Red once more in 2018.
Congressional District 6 – Represented by John Delaney who purchased this seat after corrupt Democrats in Annapolis Marty-mandered the congressional district which represented western Maryland.   John Delaney is a carpetbagger and isn’t well liked by other Democrats.   Let’s make CD-6 Red once more in 2018.
Congressional District 7 – Represented by Elijah Cummings, who has held this seat since 1996.  Many people suggest the Rep. Cummings should be in jail for the numerous ethics issues that have dogged him over the past several years.   Let’s make CD-7 Red in 2018.
Congressional District 8 – Represented by newly minted radical leftist Democrat Jamie Raskin who hails from Takoma Park, the town that declared itself a Nuclear Free Zone.  TP is home to some of the most radical leftists in America.  Let’s make CD-8 Red once more in 2018.


In addition to this line-up, we will also have a U.S. Senate race in 2018 when radical leftist Democrat Ben Cardin is up for re-election.  We need to find a great candidate for this slot, especially since there is speculation that Cardin will be retiring from the Senate. With the popularity of Governor Hogan, someone like Former MD First Lady Kendell Ehrlich could pull off an upset and beat Democrat Ben Cardin or someone else.  The open Senate seat would create an interesting dynamic, since some of the above congressional seats may become vacant.

Now that you’ve got the offices and districts that need candidates in mind, it’s time for the next step.

Let’s Start with the Basics

Before you announce, it’s important to talk to your spouse, your family and close friends.  Let them know you are thinking about running.  RED FLAG: If your spouse isn’t on board with your plans, then you don’t want to run.  It will lead down a rough and bumpy road.

After you’ve gotten the blessing to run for office from your spouse and family, your first task is to find a campaign treasurer.  You can’t run without one, and you’ll want to find someone who is detail oriented, because you don’t want to be late with filings.   Your treasurer’s name will be on every piece of political material you put out, from your website to tee shirts.  A good rule to follow is that when in doubt,  put the authority line on it.   I will address the authority line in a later column.

After you become a candidate and get a treasurer, you need to go to Annapolis to file. This is a cool location, and depending on which office you are running for, you should make a day of it and take plenty of pictures and videos on the day you file.  Consider doing a Facebook Live right after you file – just something brief.  Congratulations!  You are now a candidate.  My next column will cover do’s and don’ts  for setting up your first campaign event and building a donor list.

Final thoughts

Before you file and make the decision to run for office, depending on the office.  If you are running for State Senate or State Delegate contact the Republican Caucus and spend a day with some of our great elected Republicans in Annapolis.

If you are running for Congress, contact Rep. Dr. Andy Harris, talk to his people and find out the pros and cons to see if this is something you actually want to do.  Speak with the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) as well as the MDGOP.  When I first ran for House of Delegates, I spoke with Sen. Marty Madden and Larry Haines who were my political mentors during the 1994 race.  I also spoke with Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and old family friend Rep. Peter King. If you are interested in running for county office, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh is a great resource, as are many of our Republican County Executives and County Council members around the state.

One more thing: If you’d like to run for office or need advice, feel free to email me at  I have over 20 years of experience in managing and
consulting to various campaigns.


December 29, 2016

2016 Predictions – RECAP

  1. Get ready for blizzards in the Midwest this January and February – HIT
  2. Redskins will choke in wild card game. – HIT
  3. Winners of Iowa caucus 1. Cruz, 2. Rubio 3. Trump – HIT
  4. New Hampshire Primary winners 1. Christie 2. Rubio 3. Cruz – MISSED THIS ONE
  5. Rand Paul Drops out before super Tuesday – HIT
  6. Thunderstorms in Mid-Atlantic and people will lose power – HIT
  7. A Democrat(s) will have to resign from office – I think this happened
  8. Donna Edwards will win the Democrat Primary for US Senate – MISSED THIS ONE
  9. Hillary Clinton will have yet more problems with campaign and yet do another re-boot. – HIT – I lost Count of all the reboots
  10. Republicans pick up more seats in house and senate – HIT
  11. Republicans win the White House – HIT
  12. Comptroller Peter Franchot switches parties – WRONG
December 29, 2016

2017 Predictions

  1. Snow storms in January and February in the north east and Midwest. Keep those snow blowers and shovels handy
  2. Thunderstorms this spring, will lead to power losses
  3. No major hurricanes
  4. Obama will not leave Washington
  5. Few more stars will pass away in Hollywood
  6. Real Unemployment will drop like a rock
  7. Major Traffic Delays over Memorial Day weekend
  8. Continued staged sightings of Hillary Clinton
  9. Big Foot will be discovered in pacific northwest (when he goes to a 7-11 for a Slurpee)
  10. UFO Sightings in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and other western States
  11. Democrats still will be harboring resentment of 2016 Election blowout
  12. iPhone 8 will be awesome
  13. black will be the number one color of new cars
  14. Stock Market will break 21,000
  15. Russian economy falters
  16. Civil War in China
  17. Home prices will go up
  18. Housing market will heat up
  19. Earth quake in California
  20. Cat 1 or 2 Hurricane hit south Florida no major damage
  21. Global warming exposed as a hoax
  22. Prepare for some lousy movies in 2017 and three or four great ones
  23. New desert craze will sweep the nation
  24. First Contact will be made
  25. President Trump Approval ratings got to 60%
  26. Bill Clinton Reveals he voted for Donald Trump
  27. Wild fires this summer
  28. Hollywood liberals fail to keep promise of moving to Canada
  29. Announcement of reboot of Space 1999 with big screen movie of Space 2099
  30. 2 vacancies on Supreme Court


March 27, 2016

NEA Back to Its Old Tricks

Dwight Patel

March 10, 2000


WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, I went to vote in the Maryland Republican Primary. The usually suspects were all rounded up. The neighborhood Liberals were out in full force, ranting and raving about the usual stuff, how Gingrich, DeLay, and basically anyone with an “R” next to their name, are ruining public education.


I was talking to a few voters out at the polls about how the government wants to tax the Internet. That’s all it took. Three teachers came up to me and said, “you know the net is costing public schools billions of dollars a year.” (All Maryland public school teachers were off Tuesday, apparently so they can better harass freethinking voters, instead of teaching our children in school, not that they do that when they are in school. Virginians manage to vote and keep school going at the same time.)


I was curious about their thought processes, and since I always enjoy mixing it up with the liberals, I asked them to tell me how the Internet is robbing school children. They explained that since the state sales taxes are used to fund public schools, the schools are suffering because the state is not collecting them on Internet sales. Then the Rhodes Scholar of the bunch went on to say that it’s not just schools, it’s also emergency services. He asked me (Standard NEA Script ALERT) to imagine my dad having a heart attack and calling 911. I was to imagine that rescue services are not able to man the 911 lines and my dad dies of the heart attack because the net was not taxed.


At this point I just had to applaud them for not disappointing me. This is the standard scare tactic the Liberals use. It’s always someone having a heart attack and dying because he wasn’t taxed enough. Well, I was in a good mood because this was the day John McCain became John Who, so I played their little game. I asked them if they ever wondered what gives these hypothetical fellows heart attacks in the first place. They could not grasp that point, insisting that my father would die because of service cuts due to undertaxation. I said the thing that kills people is paying high taxes, like the marriage tax, the death tax, capital gains taxes, the gas tax and so on.


I had to educate these educators as to the real effects of Internet taxation. I asked them if they knew that a tax on the Internet (which is not the same thing as sales taxes on Internet commerce, by the way, though they were very confused on this point) would drive large segments of the population off the net. In particular, the progress of ethnic and minority groups in getting wired would be slowed. I also asked them if they recognized the impact of Internet taxes on those on fixed incomes, such as senior citizens. One of them said with a chuckle that old people don’t go online and so they really don’t care. I had to educate these educators to the fact that the fastest-growing segment of the online population is retirees.


At this point the teachers were getting nasty and belligerent, as they were not making much progress. In fact, the few spectators were on my side. So they played the class warfare card, going on about how a tax-free Internet only benefits the rich, just as they say that Republican across-the-board tax cuts only benefit the rich, and how a flat tax only benefits the rich. I asked them if everyone online is rich. They said no, of course not.


I rested my case: a tax-free Internet benefits all.