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Considering a candidacy for public office involves pondering the courageous step of going before an electorate and facing potential examination, scrutiny, and rejection. Anyone who contemplates running for office, therefore, must answer a series of questions. Is the time right to inject my family into the political arena? Where am I in terms of my professional goals? Do I know enough about the issues and the political system to run for office? Am I in sync with my potential constituents on the issues that matter most? Have electoral gatekeepers indicated support for my foray into politics? Do I really want to take part in a political process that is so often associated with self-interest, corruption, and cynicism? In short, a variety of personal, professional, and political circumstances-circumstances that often change over time-undoubtedly affect the extent to which someone considers entering the electoral arena.

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Copyright 2011 Southern Political Science Association. Available on publisher's site at

Recommended Citation

Fox, Richard L., and Jennifer L. Lawless. 2011. "Gaining and Losing Interest in Running for Public Office: The Concept of Dynamic Political Ambition." Journal of Politics 73(2):443-462.