1. I need a job (not true for Smulowitz, who was already employed as a physician); some say that was true of Harry Truman; if so, he was not alone.
2. A passion for governance, and desire to make a difference.
3. Family tradition; some families seem to field one elected official or state employee after another; it is just what those families do.
4. A single issue upon which the candidate has a burning passion (very different from ‘a passion for governance’) that energizes that person to seek office.
5. A sense of entitlement; because the candidate has held another office, or served as a general, they are convinced they are “owed” or “own” the right to that office.
6. Incumbency, the sense that someone has come to “own” an office; reflected in calling the senate seat “Ted Kennedy’s seat.” The corollary is it is seen as somehow disloyal or disreputable to challenge an incumbent [note I totally disagree that any incumbent “owns” their seat and should not be challenged; all elected offices belong to the people].
7. A desire for the attention and excitement that running for office and holding office guarantee.
Many candidates may represent more than one of these qualities. But I look to try and determine motivation these days – as I have said before, I have a kind of political PTSD from supporting a candidate who turned out to be a major league phoney – John Edwards.