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A Congressional candidate explains how he became "hard-wired" to raise money

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Want to know what it's like to run for Congress? One recent first-time candidate has written a lengthy first-person account of his effort in Politico Magazine — and it isn't pretty.

When Matt Miller decided to make a bid for the retiring Henry Waxman's House seat in Los Angeles, he was no stranger to politics. Miller had worked in the Clinton White House, written political columns for the Washington Post, and hosted a public radio talk show. But he wasn't prepared for how the imperative for campaign cash would dominate nearly his entire campaign — and would change him as a person. Miller writes:

Campaign fundraising is a bizarre, soul-warping endeavor. You spend your time endlessly adding to lists of people who might be in a position to help. You enter them on a spreadsheet (dubbed "The Tracker") and sort the names from high to low in terms of their giving potential. You start to think of every human being in your orbit as having a number attached to them. You book breakfasts, lunches, coffees and drinks at which you make the case for your candidacy ... and ask for money. Always money. You call dozens of people a day ... and ask for money. When people ask how they can help, you mostly ask them for the names of folks you can ... ask for money.

Since Miller's rivals had better name recognition and ties to local interest groups, Miller's consultants advised him that expensive ad campaigns were the only way to get his name and message in front of the district's voters. He ended up raising $848,440 — but his key opponents raised even more.

In the end, it wasn't enough — Miller came in fifth place in the 18-candidate field, with just 12 percent of the vote. Head over to Politico Magazine to read his lengthy, enlightening account of his experience: "Mr. Miller Doesn't Go to Washington."

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