Final Endorsement Considerations Approval [voting closed]

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Thank you to all who responded to our recent survey regarding Progressive Massachusetts (PM) endorsement criteria and issues.  We received many specific and thoughtful questions, concerns, and responses.  After careful consideration, we send this revised endorsement document back to our Progressive Mass email list for an up-or-down vote. You will find the survey at the bottom of this page, but you can skip to it by clicking here.

Many of your comments raised concerns about individual criteria being treated as litmus tests, or “rules” that would disqualify a candidate if those particular criteria were not met.  We did not intend our list to be litmus tests, which the word “criteria” could imply. As a result, we have re-titled this document Endorsement Considerations. As listed below, the considerations can be a guide for our members, to be used in determining an endorsement, not overemphasizing any one aspect, nor holding back endorsements for lack of a “perfect” candidate. We hope that all considerations will be weighed against each other when determining whether to endorse or whom to endorse in a race.

We also read comments asking what it means to be a progressive. Though not easily defined, click this text to read a reflection of values that we believe progressives share.

As Progressive Mass is a new organization, it is important to think about what our endorsement will mean. Will our endorsement require us to provide resources to help in that candidate’s victory? Will there be situations where a candidate earns our endorsement with no expectation of resources? For instance, would we issue an endorsement simply because an excellent candidate wants to include “Endorsed by Progressive Mass” on their literature, but we don’t consider that particular race enough of a priority to commit resources? Would we endorse a really good progressive incumbent with no challenger? We welcome your thoughts on these matters.

We have eliminated the “issues” from this list, since the vast majority agreed that all of our proposed issues are important, and we will certainly find new issues we want to raise. Progressive Mass will be forming Issues Committees to discuss specific stances on positions for various issues areas. If you are interested in serving on an issues committee, please let us know which committee most interests you at the end of the survey.

With that, we send out our Endorsement Considerations for your approval. Based on your votes, they are listed in the order of priority. We have left room for additional feedback as well. Please vote by January 15, 2012. 

CANDIDATE Endorsement Considerations

  1. Committed to advancing economic justice.
    An endorsed candidate takes leadership in standing up for middle class and low-income families and individuals. The candidate takes leadership in advancing equitable economic, monetary, and tax policies. 
  2. Is able to articulate progressive positions on issues.
     An endorsed candidate will be able to express an understanding of progressive positions on specific issues, and clearly expresses their support for those positions. 
  3. Committed to progressive leadership.
    An endorsed candidate is consistently willing to take bold leadership advancing progressive values and policies. That includes sponsoring legislation, public advocacy, and organizing colleagues around progressive legislation. They should not have a track record of actions or votes that directly contradict stated progressive values. 
  4. Committed to advancing systemic reform.
    An endorsed candidate understands that many of our society’s problems stem from flaws in underlying systems, values, and popular beliefs that cannot be addressed by short-term measures that merely postpone or conceal an underlying problem. An endorsed candidate expresses long- and short-term strategies that prioritize and address these issues.
  5. Incumbent has taken tough votes and built a strong track record over time.
    It is often far easier to fall for the candidate who talks a good game but has not shown they can do it once in office. A strong incumbent earning Progressive Mass’s endorsement has shown that they are willing to fight for, take leadership on, and vote in support of progressive values, even in tough circumstances. PM recognizes that to be effective, legislators may occasionally need to compromise to accomplish goals. PM will take that into consideration; however, PM generally will not look kindly on incumbents who act against previously espoused progressive values for the sake of expediency or to please leadership. 
  6. Committed to building the progressive movement.
    An endorsed candidate’s vision of success extends beyond winning elections and being in power. They see it as an essential part of their role to take leadership in strengthening civic engagement and leadership, inspiring commitment to progressive values, and broadening people’s access to power and decision-making at all levels. As part of building the progressive movement, an endorsed candidate can express a positive role for government in our society.
  7. Background, history, and/or track record aligns with our values.
    An endorsed candidate is able to point to specific examples in their past to show how they have advanced and/or can relate their story to stated progressive values. 
  8. Committed to advancing the goal of racial equality and justice.
    An endorsed candidate has experience working on issues relating to racial justice, addressing racial inequities in their campaign, and in society at large. An endorsed candidate expresses an understanding of the economic and social importance of advancing leadership of color at all levels of civic participation and governance. 
  9. Endorsement meeting or Progressive Mass questionnaire.
    An endorsed candidate is willing to meet with Progressive Mass in person, or completes a PM candidate questionnaire, with responses to be distributed to PM membership prior to a vote. 
  10. Has a viable campaign, or a good reason for running.
     An endorsed candidate is running a serious campaign and can express a realistic — even if difficult — path to victory. An endorsed candidate can express why their candidacy is important in other ways, even if victory may be extremely difficult  (i.e., a candidacy has the ability to bring out large numbers of new voters, or brings important issues into a race that may otherwise have been ignored). Progressive Mass will ensure that candidates have a chance to express how they view the race, why they are running, and how a PM endorsement will benefit them.For example, take two hypothetical scenarios. In both scenarios, two candidates are running in a Democratic primary for a chance to face a right-wing Republican in a tough race.  Candidate A is considered progressive and satisfies most of our considerations, but is relatively unknown, is performing poorly in early polls, and fundraising is lagging.
    • In Scenario 1, Candidate B is well known and has a commanding lead in the polls, but is a conservative Democrat who meets few of our other considerations. Viability in this situation is relevant, but would likely be substantially outweighed by other considerations.
    • In Scenario 2, Candidate B again has name recognition and is polling well, but in this scenario Candidate B is progressive, though perhaps less so than Candidate A, and meets most of our other considerations. In this scenario our members might be more likely to give more weight to viability in an endorsement decision.

    In the second scenario, “viability” is more likely to tip the scales to one candidate over the other; while in the first it did not. 

  11. Expands the voting base to non-traditional voters.
    An endorsed candidate has the ability to expand the base to those voters who are less likely to participate in elections, for instance, communities of color, ethnic minorities, and young people. Preferably, said candidate will also have a track record of work that expands the electorate. 
  12. Candidates who publicly support Progressive Mass’s agenda will be given greater consideration.
    As PM builds its issues agenda for the future, we will give preference to candidates who express their support for our work and for the issues we work on. 
  13. Candidates running against a popular, moderate or conservative opponent, where electing a progressive would have high impact, will be given greater consideration.
    When it comes to local and legislative campaigns, many of our members will likely be working on campaigns that ensure that progressive leaders are elected in progressive districts. Progressive Mass as an organization will prioritize endorsing progressive candidates running against strong moderate and conservative candidates, working to expand both the progressive base and the progressive message, and provide PM an opportunity to expand its organizational reach. 
  14. Is measurably better than other candidate(s) in the race.
    An endorsed candidate can be shown to be significantly different from others in the race in terms of level of progressiveness, proven track record, and seriousness as a candidate. For example, in a race where two good progressives are running against each other, and are virtually identical in terms of all of PM’s other considerations, it may not be worth our time and resources to invest in a campaign for one candidate over the other.   
  15. NEW CATEGORY: Committed to social justice and equality for all, to include gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
    An endorsed candidate will express clear and unambiguous support for equality and ending discrimination in its many permutations, especially regarding voting, rights, employment, and access. Progressive Mass members will consider a candidate’s experiences working for equality in their decision.  
  16. NEW CATEGORY: Enthusiasm among Progressive Mass’s constituency.
    Working on campaigns of candidates who generate enthusiasm among progressive activists is important because: a) it increases the likelihood of victory for the candidate we endorse and, more importantly, b) it helps build the grassroots power of Progressive Mass over the long haul, since working on the campaign would draw in new members and increase the engagement of those already involved.  

Based on feedback from the surveys and conversations about this document, we have added two new categories, numbers 15 and 16, since the draft went out.

Additionally, we heard loud and clear from you that three categories should be excluded from our list, which we have done.  The excised categories:

  • Is running for an important seat.
     Feedback was this was just too vague to determine what constitutes “important”.
  • 'Card-carrying' members of Progressive Mass.
     Since none of us actually have cards, and it’s unclear what qualifies someone as a member, this is a consideration for another day, perhaps.
  • Is running in a district where we have members.
    In addition to the issue of what is a member, questions were raised as to why we would limit ourselves just to areas where we are strong, instead of working to expand our reach. 

Now that you have reviewed the revised Endorsement Considerations, please vote in the approval questionnaire (below) before January 15. Thanks as always for your contributions to Progressive Mass.


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