RFS Endorsement Process
Run for Something is currently accepting endorsement applications from candidates who meet the following guidelines:
- Running in a 2020 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 1979 or later;
- Running as a Democrat, or in non-partisan local elections, supports 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 under-represented 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 believe that a candidate’s “why” — their rationale for running — is one of the most important parts of a campaign. We endorse candidates who are able to explain why they got into this race and their positive vision for their community.
- Campaign plans focused on voter contact. RFS believes that campaigns are won by knocking on doors and 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 clubs, 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 knock the extra five doors, make the extra five phone calls, and 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 20% 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.
- 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).
- Note: Run for Something will consider dual endorsements in a competitive race if more than one candidates 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. You’ll learn about our mentor program and how volunteers can help your team.
Once you apply for endorsement, here is what to expect:
- Application timelines: Dates subject to change. Candidates can not request endorsements on different dates than those listed above. We will announce in Summer 2020 when 2021 candidates can start to submit applications.
- 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.
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 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.
- If you have more questions about how RFS supports endorsed candidates, click here.
Please take the time to fill out this application with as much detail as possible. We will keep all of your information confidential and will not share your plans, fundraising numbers, or any answers to these questions with anyone outside of Run for Something. Incomplete applications or applications that lack detail will not be considered.