By Karen Weinstein, former Chair, Women’s Caucus, CA Democratic Party
If you are a Democrat running for a seat in the CA Legislature, getting to know your local party activists and leaders and their endorsement process early on can be a huge plus.
For many voters knowing that a candidate has the backing of the Democratic Party is enough to determine their vote. CDP Chair John Burton recently commented that 96% of CDP-endorsed candidates in the 2014 primary moved on to the November ballot.
Do not assume your opponents have an advantage even if they are locally elected officials. Many local offices are nonpartisan, so even candidates with previous campaign experience may not have strong ties to the party. Plan to compete. Winning the party endorsement prior to the primary can give your candidacy a boost and prove to be a big advantage.
Who To Meet
Important CDP leaders include the Regional Officer for your district; the County Committee Chair(s); local Elected Officials, DNC officers, Executive Board and Central Committee members, Caucus leaders, Standing Committee members and local activists. All can provide guidance, support and always-needed volunteer energy to your campaign.
You can find contact information on the CDP’s website.
The Endorsement Process
Prior to the annual state convention, each region holds a “Pre-Endorsement Conference.” This is the first opportunity for a candidate to secure the party endorsement. To be eligible for an endorsement the candidate must file a CDP Candidate Registration Form. It is advantageous to do this as early as possible. The CDP posts clear instructions. Forms and staff are available to provide direction.
Once registered, candidates can request the list of eligible members who may vote on an endorsement. Don’t wait until the Pre-Endorsement Conference to introduce yourself to these Party voters. Call them up and seek them out at CDP meetings and events. Even if you can’t muster the votes to win the CDP endorsement, you can garner enough votes to prevent your competition from getting the 70% needed to receive the CDP Endorsement. Sometimes, that’s a victory in itself!
If no candidate receives 70% at the Pre-Endorsement Conference but one candidate receives more than 50% support, the endorsement vote will be decided at the convention’s Endorsing Caucus. If no candidate receives more than 50% support, the CDP will take a position of “no consensus.”
While you don’t want to get carried away in party-building activities when you should be raising money, collecting other endorsements and creating a ground team, establishing relationships with the local party faithful is essential to launching a viable and successful candidacy.
close the gap CA’s website lists key dates and deadlines for candidates.
2016 California Democratic Party Candidates’ Endorsement Guide.
A full calendar and explanatory information on the election process can be found at the California Secretary of State website.