How Democrats Endorse, from President to School Board

A lot of people ask me at this time of year about how our Party makes decisions about the candidates we endorse. This week, I’m going to take a little time to explain how this process works, from the top to the bottom of the ticket. It can be a bit complicated, so bear with me.

To begin with, it’s important to understand that any endorsements are made by either the National, State, or County Party — all of which are related but independent organizations. After  primary elections or caucuses are held in all 50 states, delegates for the presidential candidates will officially vote on the endorsement of the Democratic nominee for President at the Democratic National Committee Convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia. Any Democrat is eligible to run to become a delegate by bringing lots of Democrats to vote for him or her at the designated date and time in your Congressional district. You can learn more about how to do that by clicking here.

Members of the U.S. Congress and Senate, as well as members of the State Assembly and Senate, will be endorsed by delegates at the California State Democratic Party (CDP) Convention February 26-28 in San Jose. Delegates were either elected by voters in caucuses a year ago, appointed by elected officials or nominees, or selected from within the County Party Central Committee. Before the State Convention, “Pre-Endorsement Conferences” will be held Jan. 30-31 throughout the state, in which local delegates, as well as representatives of Democratic Clubs, will be able to recommend candidates for endorsement. Candidates who receive 70 percent of the vote will be placed on a consent calendar for voting at the CDP Convention. For more information on the CDP endorsement process, click here.

All the remaining local candidates are endorsed by the County Central Committee, the official governing board of our San Diego County Democratic Party. These offices range from countywide elected officials to city council, school board, water board, and other local offices.

Our endorsement process begins when we reach out to all the Democratic candidates who file to run for office and offer them an opportunity to complete our questionnaire and seek our endorsement. Then Central Committee members in their respective areas of the County — North, Central, South and East — vote to recommend endorsements of the candidates who are running in their Area. The full County Central Committee then holds the official vote, with 60% needed for an endorsement. This will take place after the filing periods close for the primary and general elections, in March and August of this year, respectively.

Our Central Committee doesn’t necessarily endorse in every race. In races where more than one Democrat is running for an open seat, for example, we may choose to not endorse before the primary. We can’t endorse a non-Democrat, but we can rate any candidate as acceptable, or unacceptable, or formally take no position, in lieu of an endorsement.

The endorsement of the Democratic Party at all levels is valuable. Endorsed candidates are eligible to coordinate with the Party to access valuable voter data, raise funds, and be included on our website and hundreds of thousands of official slate mailers and door hangers that we distribute to Democratic voters.

I am grateful to Democrats who give up their time and pay all their own expenses to serve on the Central Committee and become Convention delegates. They are not elected officials or famous people. They are Democrats who believe in our values and the need to participate in our democratic process.

We welcome you to participate as well.  We invite you to join a Democratic club in your community where you’ll meet candidates, elected officials, and others who regularly speak at the monthly meetings. You’ll also meet fellow Democrats and learn how you can join the Grassroots Organizing Team, register voters, and participate in other activities in your community.

And of course, we always encourage Democrats to consider running for office. I look forward to working with you and all our candidates in 2016 to elect Democrats to office who will transform our values of equality, opportunity, sustainability, and prosperity for all into policies that improve people’s lives. In next week’s Chair’s Corner, I’ll explain how you can become a member of our County Democratic Central Committee.

Francine Busby
Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

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