Discussion Notes on Developing Criteria to Endorse Candidates


During the General Assembly on March 26, 2017, a group led by David Cohen discussed ideas for developing criteria for FCCPR to endorse political candidates.  The following are notes from the discussion.

FCCPR members who are interested in participating in future discussions about this topic, please contact David Cohen at davidjc@comcast.net

Current Language re FCCPR Criteria for Endorsing Candidates:

“One of our main goals will be to identify, promote and even run candidates in our own name in elections for local offices. Such candidates must demonstrate support for our positions, be activists in the community and continue to be activists in their role as elected officials.”

Questions to consider:

How do we adapt our seven-point program to local candidates such as school committee and select boards? How do we develop progressive platforms for local elected positions?

More discussion needed.

Should we develop the policy that candidates must refuse to accept corporate money for their campaigns?  

One member opined that there should be some flexibility–avoid “our way or the highway” mentality; but another believed flexibility can be a “slippery slope” and that it’s best to have a strict rule and follow it.

If considering donations from for-profits, it’s important to differentiate between big corporations vs. small businesses  or  corporate pacs vs. union pacs.

“Take donations from corps only if they adhere to FCCPR principles.”

Would it be better to evaluate potential endorsees by his/her adherence to specific principles or rather by his/her position on an issue?

Let candidates know what our principles are and ask them to explain how they see themselves aligning with those principles–Give them a questionnaire to fill out to help us decide.

One member observed that Massachusetts is losing ground in diversity of candidates and recommended that among FCCPR’s endorsement criteria be whether the person is from an underrepresented group.

“Rate (weight) the criteria vs. 100 percent compliance”

An alternative to 100 percent compliance to a particular criterion would be to assign a weight to the criteria–so some criteria would act as “deal-breakers” while other, less important, criteria could be negotiable.

“Criteria re accepting donations should be adjusted depending on what office the person is running for and/or what level of government; i.e., local, county, state, national”

Instead of “re-inventing the wheel” with regard to developing our criteria, someone recommended borrowing existing criteria from an org like Represent.Us.

The conversation shifted to “process” when one member recommended FCCPR use the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s model of establishing a committee dedicated to evaluating candidate endorsement requests.  The group would then recommend to FCCPR to endorse, not to endorse, or, if not to endorse, support in some other way. (Might the existing “Electoral Politics” task force act in this role?)

Should FCCPR have a year-round effort to build support for an FCCPR electoral program in defined electoral regions, for example in towns, or in the State  Representative, State Senatorial or Congressional Districts?

Dave Cohen elaborated on what he meant by this.  Should we only run candidates during election cycles, or should we build a movement on a continuous basis?

There was general consensus that FCCPR should see cultivating potential candidates as a continuous effort.

One member went so far as to say it would be a mistake NOT to look at FCCPR’s efforts in terms of a movement with constant presence and engagement with our community.

The conversation shifted to what that engagement would like and at least two people observed the importance of reaching out to all voters, including ones not ostensibly receptive to FCCPR’s platform.

Another member suggested FCCPR should offer “messaging” training sessions.

Another member pointed out the opportunity of directing FCCPRs efforts to what she called “the no man’s land,” i.e., Trump supporters who are becoming disillusioned with him or other conservatives.  In addition, FCCPR should develop ability to connect to a range of voters–”from millennials to grandparents.”

Dave Cohen urged the group to learn more about the successful organizing efforts of Richmond, Calif. in overcoming the control of Chevron Corporation. Watch labor activist Steve Early, author of “Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City,” discuss this effort during an FCCPR-sponsored presentation at Greenfield Library February 22, 2017.

Dave Cohen wrapped up the meeting by inviting the group to continue the discussion by attending future meetings–dates to be determined. If you’re interested in participating further, email davidjc@comcast.net