Party Nomination to Congress: Process to Become a Candidate

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  • 0:01 Prerequisite
  • 0:45 File for Office
  • 3:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will review the process to become a candidate for Congress. We will take a closer look at what the requirements are and what process is to be taken leading up to the election.


Before an individual can become a candidate to run for Congress, this person must first make sure that they meet the minimum requirements to run for Congress. A candidate for the United States Senate must be 30 years of age, a citizen of the United States for 9 years and an inhabitant of the state that he is elected from at the time of the election. A candidate for the House of Representatives must be 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States for 7 years and an inhabitant of the state that he is elected from at the time of the election. If that person meets these minimum requirements, then let's see how he goes about becoming a candidate!

File for Office

There are a couple ways an individual can become an official candidate for Congress. The individual can file his paperwork by himself. Or, the individual can be nominated by his political party to run.

In the case where an individual is seeking the nomination of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party to become a candidate for Congress, the process depends on which state they live in.

In most cases, the individual must submit some sort of affidavit indicating their desire along with a petition signed by a certain minimum number of voters in that state. The voters must be members of whichever party the individual is wishing to align with. Then, that individual will appear as a candidate on the ballot for the primary in that state.

In some states, the major political parties use candidate selection to choose their candidate for Congress. Candidate selection is the process by which a candidate is selected by a political party to run for Congress. This is usually done at a party convention where the members vote to select one candidate.

In the case where an individual is seeking to run as an independent candidate or as a candidate without political party affiliation, then this candidate also must file an affidavit with the state indicating their desire to become a candidate on the ballot. Even in the case of someone without political affiliation, they must also submit a petition with a certain number of signatures of registered voters with their affidavit. After doing these things, this individual will be a candidate on the ballot for that office.

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