In concert with the 2020 Chapter Resolution “Build a Bench for a 2022 DSA-LA Slate”, DSA-LA has not yet begun our process for endorsing candidates in 2021 special elections or 2022 general elections. Please stay tuned for details on our endorsement process, which will be posted here as they are adopted.
So You Want to Start The Endorsement Process
DSA-LA Endorsements vs DSA-LA Recommendations
First things first, what is an endorsement? You’ve probably seen and heard lots of candidates say they’ve been endorsed by someone or by a group or organization. Endorsements in most cases means those people are vouching for a candidate or ballot measure and want you to vote for it/them. But that is not what an endorsement means in DSA-LA. When DSA-LA endorses something that means not only are we vouching for it, we are also going to put in work for it. When Bernie Sanders endorses someone, they can use Bernie’s likeness and logo and maybe if you’re super lucky, Bernie will come out and give a speech with you at a rally. When DSA-LA endorses something that means we are going to make a working group that will volunteer hundreds of hours organizing canvasses, phone banks, doing research, making content for social media, and more. It is a massive commitment to make and depends on large amounts of chapter enthusiasm and labor to make work. If you, the person bringing forth the petition, are not willing to donate at least 5 hours a week for several months to get a candidate elected or a ballot measure passed, you should not bring forth an endorsement petition for the chapter. If the chapter endorses candidates but fails to do the necessary work to get them elected it devalues our endorsement and weakens our political power. Likewise, we have expectations of endorsed candidates–they must pledge not to take corporate, real-estate, fossil fuels or police union donations. They must use their office to draw attention to issues affecting the multi-racial working class. They must commit to universal programs that benefit everyone, paid for by taxing the rich. If a DSA-endorsed candidate is elected, DSA-LA expects to play an ongoing role in the candidate’s fight to organize a working class majority and demand socialism in our county.
In addition to endorsements, DSA-LA also offers recommendations. Recommendations are decided by DSA-LA’s Electoral Politics Committee rather than the whole chapter. Because of this, a recommendation does not entitle candidates to any chapter resources, including our logo or name. Recommendations are more akin to a rubber stamp endorsement you’d see from a Democratic club. An easy analogy for the distinction between a recommendation and an endorsement is this; a recommendation is letting your buddy know about a great apartment in your building, an endorsement is helping them move in and co-signing your buddy’s lease.
If you would like to see DSA-LA support a candidate or ballot measure but you are not ready to make that kind of commitment, then you can contact the Electoral Politics Committee and tell them you’d like for us to recommend them in the voter guide and why. The voter guide makes recommendations and doesn’t require a full chapter vote or that any working groups are formed. The Electoral Politics Committee researches races and measures and decides internally whether or not to recommend something in the voter guide.
Starting and Endorsement Process
Still want to start an endorsement? Great! But there’s some rules to follow first:
- You can’t be the candidate or working for the candidate. If you’ve been hired in any capacity to work for a candidate or ballot measure you cannot start an endorsement process for that candidate or ballot measure, period.
- You can’t be related, married, cohabiting or romantically partnered with the candidate either, so if you’re Jane Sanders, you can’t start a petition to endorse Bernie Sanders on the technicality that you aren’t hired by the campaign. If you’re part of a campaign in any capacity, no endorsing.
- If you start or sign an endorsement and it passes, you are obligated to work on the campaign. 1 hour a week minimum for the duration of the campaign. Starting a campaign and not working on a campaign does not build power.
OK so you’re really going to do this! Great! Here’s how:
- Contact the Electoral Politics Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask for an endorsement form. An endorsement form has two parts:
- Candidate questionnaire: this is for the candidate to fill out and it will be attached to the petition so members can understand the candidate’s background and policy positions in advance of signing the proposal to endorse them (remember: by signing members are agreeing to work on the campaign for at least 1 hour a week for the duration of the campaign.)
- Member proposal: this is a written proposal outlining why the member(s) proposing we endorse a candidate believe the candidate should be endorsed. There are no requirements for this proposal, but we suggest making it as detailed as possible, outlining as much about the candidate, the district, and the proposed level of chapter commitment as possible. For an example of a past proposal, click here.
- Once the Electoral Politics Committee sends you an endorsement form, you must write the proposal to endorse the candidate and have the candidate fill out the questionnaire. An endorsement form is not complete until both components are ready.
- Organize and talk to other DSA-LA members to gather signatures for the completed endorsement form and return it to the Electoral Politics Committee before the endorsement submission period ends. Your petition must be signed by 50 DSA-LA members in good standing. The end date for the submission period will be on the endorsement form. The Electoral Politics Committee will review the petition, research the candidate/ballot measure and applicable district and once cleared, will set up a chapter-wide Q&A with the candidate and a chapter-wide vote and venue for posting public statements for or against to take place for the week following the Q&A.
- If the endorsement passes, The Electoral Politics Committee will coordinate the formation of a working group from the signatories of the petition, chapter membership, point people in the branch/s applicable to the district and hold elections for chairs and coordinators of the To Be Named (TBN) Working Group. The chairs and coordinators of the TBN Working Group cannot be any currently elected leaders of any other committee or working group and the working group will be required to report back weekly to the Electoral Politics Committee.
Final disclaimer: the DSA-LA chapter bylaws task the Electoral Politics Committee with “Facilitating Local Endorsements, including coordinating votes to ensure that the Local is not overburdened”. In layperson’s terms, this means it’s our responsibility to ensure the chapter is not forced to consider dozens of candidate proposals at one time. As discovered by our friends over in NYC-DSA, having numerous candidates up for consideration actually made the endorsement process less accessible as members were being asked to attend too many Q&A’s and debates, and read too many candidate questionnaires and proposals just to maintain a minimum level of awareness on every endorsement up for a vote. Similarly, our chapter has a finite amount of volunteer hours and resources, so while it’d be nice to run 50 candidate campaigns at one time, doing so would spread ourselves too thin and ultimately result in us not being able to support any candidate in a meaningful way. This is all to say that the Electoral Politics Committee will consider closing the submission period for proposals to start endorsement processes if the chapter is being asked to consider too many at any one time.