Frequently Asked Questions
What is a DSA-LA priority electoral campaign for a candidate or ballot measure?
You’ve probably seen and heard lots of candidates say they’ve been endorsed by someone or by various organizations. Endorsements in most cases means the endorsing person or organization is vouching for a candidate or ballot measure and wants you to vote for them/it. When DSA-LA endorses someone or something that means not only are we vouching for them/it, we are also going to put in work in support of the candidate or initiative by forming 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 mobilize and succeed in our electoral work. For that reason, we use the term “priority electoral campaign” for the electoral candidates and campaigns we endorse.
What is a DSA-LA recommendation for a candidate or ballot measure?
In addition to endorsements, DSA-LA also offers recommendations through our DSA-LA Voter Guides. Recommendations are decided by DSA-LA’s Electoral Committee with input from members who volunteer their labor to research and write the voter guide, rather than the whole chapter. Because of this, a recommendation does not entitle candidates to any chapter resources, including our logo.
If you would like to see DSA-LA recommend a candidate or ballot measure, you can contact the Electoral Committee (email@example.com) with your proposed recommendation(s) for the voter guide and your analysis of why the Committee should make the recommendation(s). The voter guide is produced entirely by member labor, with volunteers researching races and ballot measures before a final determination on which positions will be recommended in the DSA-LA Voter Guide. The committee is always looking for more member volunteers to help research and write the guide, and you can get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about other endorsements?
DSA-LA endorsements are the same thing as priority electoral campaigns. We do not offer a type of endorsement higher than a voter guide recommendation but below an electoral campaign intentionally, in line with the chapter’s Democratic Socialist Program and DSA’s national electoral strategy.
What am I committing to as a member if I seek a DSA-LA endorsement for a candidate or ballot measure?
A Chief Petitioner is the primary point of contact with the nascent petitioning effort, and will be included in communications regarding the processing and consideration of the endorsement petition. The Chief Petitioner will also be responsible for assisting in identifying candidates for Working Group leadership, and ensuring that WGs do have a full complement of support.
Our priority electoral campaigns come with the promise of hundreds of hours of members’ time, which is why we ask that members signing petitions try to commit to working at least 4 hours a month if the endorsement passes. 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.
What am I committing to as a candidate if I seek a DSA-LA endorsement?
Likewise, we have expectations of prospective endorsed candidates. You must:
- Pledge not to take corporate, real-estate, fossil fuel, or police union donations.
- Use your office to draw attention to issues affecting the multi-racial working class in Los Angeles County and California.
- Commit to advancing and fighting for universal programs that benefit everyone, paid for by taxing the rich and recapturing the wealth generated by workers.
- If elected, continue to work with DSA-LA to organize a working class majority and demand socialism in our county.
- Understand that DSA-LA’s electoral strategy requires us to be sparing in our electoral campaigns. That means that we may elect not to endorse your candidacy even if you have a strong left campaign.
What am I committing to as a ballot measure sponsor if I seek a DSA-LA endorsement?
That depends on the phase at which you are seeking endorsement for a ballot measure. An official chapter endorsement and commitment of resources can only be made through a chapterwide vote once a measure has qualified for the ballot, but there are other ways to seek support for mutual benefit:
- If seeking DSA-LA resources in the Initiative Draft phase, the work of writing the text of the proposed law must happen in coalition through a chapter committee and with the approval of the Steering Committee. You must give the participating chapter committee, Steering Committee, or Electoral Committee a voting seat on the coalition and work to advance DSA-LA’s socialist politics, as articulated in the Democratic Socialist Program for Los Angeles. If seeking endorsement in the Signature Gathering phase, you must form a working group with a chapter committee or branch organizing committee and inform both the Electoral Committee and the Steering Committee of the efforts. The working group must prepare a work plan that identifies, at a minimum: Terms of engagement for how DSA-LA and the ballot measure sponsors interact, maintain political independence, collects and shares contact lists; Understanding of a class struggle analysis of the proposed law; and disclosure of financial supporters of the ballot measure and signature gathering efforts.
If seeking endorsement after a ballot measure has been qualified for the ballot, this must be done through the official endorsement process detailed below.
Who can initiate the DSA-LA Endorsement Process?
Only DSA-LA Members in good standing can initiate the endorsement process.
- The Chief Petitioner can’t be the candidate or work 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. This includes any independent expenditures in support of the candidate or ballot measure. If you are seeking endorsement for an electoral candidate, you also may not be related to or romantically involved with the candidate.
- Petition signatories who do any work for either an official candidate/initiative campaign or an independent expenditure campaign in support of said candidate/initiative under consideration for chapter endorsement will be asked to identify themselves to ElPol. This is to ensure that the chapter is compliant with relevant campaign finance laws and does not unintentionally facilitate any individual member breaching campaign firewalls.
- If you are the Chief Petitioner, you will also be responsible for assisting in identifying candidates for Working Group leadership, and ensuring that Working Groups do have a full complement of support (and taking that position if they cannot). Potential endorsements should not only build chapter capacity, but also be made in mind with the chapter’s current capacity to get it started. Running a DSA electoral campaign is a significant undertaking, and working group leadership can expect to spend a minimum of five hours per week through the duration of the campaign. If you are not prepared to ask specific members to take on that responsibility or take it yourself, you should not initiate a DSA-LA endorsement.
- Signatories will be asked to commit some number of hours to the campaign, if an endorsement is approved. An effective DSA-LA priority electoral campaign will require dozens of members to spend at least four hours per month in support of the campaign. If you cannot find members willing to put in that effort, you should not seek an endorsement.
What are the detailed steps of the endorsement process?
- Identify a Chief Petitioner and have them fill out the priority electoral campaign initial application form.
- After filling out the form, the Electoral Committee will follow up within a few days with a petition form to collect signatures from DSA-LA members in good standing, as well as a copy of the candidate questionnaire.
- Once receiving the petition form, organize and talk to other DSA-LA members to gather signatures for the completed endorsement form and return it to the Electoral Committee before the endorsement submission period ends. Your petition must be signed by 50 DSA-LA members in good standing (100 if it is a US Congressional race). Furthermore, at least 20% of the petitioners must reside in-district (at least 10 members for most races and 20 people for US Congressional races). The end date for the submission period for the petition and candidate questionnaire will be on the endorsement petition supplied.
- The Electoral Committee will review the petition, research the candidate/ballot measure and applicable district, interview the candidate as appropriate, and 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. The Electoral Committee will also publish a recommendation to membership regarding the potential endorsement. Ultimately, the decision is left to a vote of the membership.
- To be endorsed by DSA-LA a candidate or initiative must receive 60% or more votes in support endorsement.
- If the endorsement passes, the Electoral Committee with the Chief Petitioner 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 select Working Group leadership. The chairs and coordinators of the working group will be required to report back weekly to the Electoral Committee.