RFS Endorsement Process
Applications received by April 15, 2021 at midnight ET, will be considered as part of the May 19, 2021 endorsement round. Run for Something will continue to endorse candidates throughout 2021 every 4-6 weeks.
Run for Something is currently accepting endorsement applications from candidates who meet all of the following guidelines:
- Running in a 2021 election;
- For a local office or state legislative office (we do not endorse for US Congress, US President, statewide elections, or Democratic party positions);
- Born in 1980 or later;
- Running as a Democrat, or in non-partisan local elections, in support of the values of the Democratic Party (we will not consider endorsements of third party or write-in candidates); and
- Running for the first or second time (and not running for re-election to the same seat, unless previously endorsed by RFS).
Why these guidelines?
- Since launching in January 2017, RFS has focused on down-ballot, local elections as the place where change can happen quickest and where there is the opportunity to enact progressive policies NOW. There are over 500,000 local elections nationwide, so that’s a lot of change to make!
- We focus on candidates aged 40 or under because this demographic is underrepresented in elected office and among voters. Our philosophy of “you can’t be what you can’t see” means that with more young, diverse, progressive Democrats on the ballot, more of our endorsed candidates’ peers and future voters will be seen and heard in our representative democracy.
- Our focus on first and second time candidates is because running for office is tough and mysterious as a newcomer. RFS is here to help support new candidates learning how to run a campaign.
- If you do not fit in the RFS guidelines, check out our partners’ endorsement application processes.
What the RFS team is looking for in an endorsement application:
- Articulate your “why.” We endorse candidates who are able to explain why they got into the race and their positive vision for their community.
- Campaign plans focused on voter contact (*please note, we understand this might look different because of the COVID pandemic). RFS believes that campaigns are won by having one-on-one conversations with voters.
- Community engagement. We don’t believe that candidates have to have been born-and-raised in the place they’re running — we’re looking for candidates who play an active role and understand the needs of the local community, whether through your volunteer activities, political activism, or through your professional career.
- Heart & hustle. In many cases our candidates are not the top fundraisers, but they will care the most and be the hardest workers. We support candidates who will do whatever it takes (within reason and 100% within the constraints of the law) to win their elections and do their absolute best each and every day. Our candidates are on Team “Get Shit Done.”
- Representative of the community. Our goal is to have our endorsed candidates be comprised of 50% women, 50% people of color, and 25% LGBTQIA+. We want to support candidates that have not been considered traditional politicians in the past.
- “Hell yeah” candidates. We look at each candidate’s endorsement application, background, and public persona, and say to ourselves, “Is this someone we feel strongly about?” If the answer is “hell yeah!”, then we know we have a keeper.
We take risks on candidates, but we will not endorse everyone. In order to create an environment where candidates are proud to be a part of the RFS community, we simply cannot endorse every person that applies.
When to apply:
When assessing applications, the RFS team is looking for candidates who have hit certain campaign benchmarks. If you apply before you can answer these questions, we will reach out and ask you to supplement your application.
- You are filed and on the ballot, or can show how you have actively taken steps to appear on the ballot.
- You have calculated your win number, and developed an attainable campaign budget and plan of how to reach those voters and convince them to vote for you on Election Day.
Need help? Check out traindemocrats.org for free campaign training and guides.
- Your campaign is building a grassroots organization to involve volunteers and community stakeholders to support your election.
- For candidates challenging a currently elected Democrat, applicants should explain not only why a voter would support your campaign, but also why they should not vote for the incumbent (i.e., policy positions out of line with the community, lack of community responsiveness).
- *Run for Something will consider dual endorsements in a competitive race if more than one candidate meets our guidelines.
If you need help with any of these benchmarks, join one of our weekly Candidate Intro calls. You’ll hear from one of our Regional Directors about how RFS supports candidates, and there is time for Q&A at the end of the call.
Once you apply for endorsement, here is what to expect:
- Application timelines: RFS makes endorsements every 4-6 weeks.
- Basic background check — As you fill out the application, you will have a chance to explain anything possibly contentious that our team may find from:
- Criminal record search
- Press search
- Campaign finance records
- Social media review
All applicants will receive an e-mail response from the RFS team whether you have been endorsed, have not been endorsed, or if there is additional information the team needs to make a decision on your application by the date listed above.
If you have changes or additions to an existing application, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and add this email address to your contacts so you are sure to see our response.
Any candidate who receives an RFS endorsement must agree to the following:
- Having a field program as a central component of the campaign where the candidate participates by knocking on doors (when safe due to COVID-19) and calling voters directly.
- Fundraising using best practices and using all available mechanisms including but not limited to: call time, events, email, online and in-person meetings.
- Including Run for Something as a strategic partner in the campaign.
- Giving back time to future Run for Something candidates as an Alumni Advisor/mentor after your election concludes.
Once endorsed, candidates will:
- be assigned to a RFS Regional Director who will advise your campaign team;
- be matched with a RFS Alumni Advisor — a previous RFS candidate who has walked in your shoes;
- be promoted on RFS social media and, as available, to media contacts;
- have access to trainings, written guides, and templates available only to RFS endorsed candidates
Please take the time to fill out this application with as much detail as possible. Incomplete applications or applications that lack detail will not be considered.