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We endorse candidates at the local, state, and federal level. This process is handled entirely by our members and considers a variety of factors including the candidate’s stance on environmental issues, incumbency, and the candidate’s viability.
All decisions about endorsements and other political action for candidates must be approved by a vote of multiple Club entities. For federal races (US House), the three entities are the local Group Executive Committee, the Chapter Executive Committee, and the National Political Team. For state legislative and municipal races, the two entities that vote are the local Group Executive Committee and the Chapter Executive Committee. For statewide office (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, US Senate), the two entities are the Statewide Interview Team and the Chapter Executive Committee.
Our endorsement process values incumbency. In certain situations this can upset supporters of individual candidates because the Club will endorse an incumbent with a good environmental record rather than a challenger who is stronger on the environment. This happens even when the challenger is a Club volunteer or even a former staff member.
We value incumbency because that sends a strong signal to elected officials that if they work for our issues, we will support them. So much of our legislative work depends on building relationships with elected officials, and if we abandon our incumbent friends and support their opponents, elected officials will be less likely to support our positions when we need them.
The Club also considers the viability of a candidate when making endorsement decisions. Essentially, viability is the candidate’s ability to win. When determining viability we consider the campaign’s finances, the makeup of the district and past voting patterns, and the strength of opposing candidates. When factoring viability into our endorsement process, that sometimes results in the Club not endorsing people who clearly share our values because it’s not likely they’ll win.
Viability is important because we want an endorsement to be valuable to candidates and to voters. If we regularly endorse candidates who lose, an endorsement from the Club loses its value and could even be seen as an indicator of a losing candidate.