Statement of Purpose
The Democratic Women’s Caucus is a Political Action Committee (DWC PAC) empowered to make financial contributions directly to candidates. The purpose of DWC endorsement is to provide support to progressive, pro-choice Democratic women running for office in Monroe County. DWC endorsement is a process to prepare candidates and an affirmation that candidates have met viability criteria. It is also a commitment of tangible support and an expression of the DWC mission. DWC endorsement does not evaluate candidates in relation to their opponent(s) and does not seek to identify a single best candidate. The status of endorsement means the DWC membership has determined that candidates are viable and that they deserve support to run successful campaigns.
The Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) offers various forms of support throughout the year to progressive, pro-choice Democratic women running – or thinking about running -- for office in Monroe County.*
Progressive, pro-choice candidates advocate for social justice and social equality, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or economic status, as well as but not limited to comprehensive health care, including unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare.
The DWC offers graduated levels of candidate support including various forms of training as well as endorsement and financial support, depending on our assessment of viability. The following components make up the criteria for determination of whether the DWC will endorse a candidate: (1) demonstrated progressive, pro-choice values consistent with the DWC mission, (2) commitment to participate in DWC training and preparation for candidacy, and (3) viability. “Viable” candidates are those who demonstrate a reasonable chance of electoral success based on:
- a strong campaign plan;
- ability to organize campaign workers and fundraise;
- knowledge of the issues and duties related to the office sought;
- willingness to participate in DWC-sponsored trainings and learning experiences;
- success in a leadership role in the community, neighborhood, or place of employment (this could include, but is not limited to serving as an elected official, a member of a city/county board or commission, a leadership role in a civic organization, neighborhood association, faith group, etc.).
The DWC is dedicated to increasing the number of qualified women candidates for public office. The DWC membership may choose to offer formal endorsement to a candidate in some races, but may also choose to “support” multiple qualified candidates (see voting procedures below).
The DWC aims to foster an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect among all candidates, to elevate the level of public political discourse, and to promote informed civic engagement and participation among women more generally. Regardless of their ultimate decision at the ballot box, DWC members are encouraged to support all DWC candidates in working to become the best candidates they can be and running the best campaign possible.
Endorsement & Support Annual Calendar
- The DWC keeps running track of offices that will be up for election in upcoming electoral cycles and disseminates that information to DWC members.
- DWC members recruit potential candidates for those offices.
- Designated DWC Steering Committee (SC) member(s) foster a relationship with the mayor, commissioners and councils, with a view to acting as a resource and advocate for the appointment of qualified women to boards, ad-hoc committees and other city/county functions.
- The DWC provides training and encourages prospective and announced candidates to participate in training sessions sponsored by the DWC and other democratic and associated organizations throughout the year.
Establish a Candidate Support and Training Committee
- Candidate Support Committee: identifies offices up for election in the next year; assures candidates understand the duties of each office; assists with preparation of intensive candidate training session; organizes mock-forums for candidates to practice stump speeches and responses to forum questions; works to create a pool of potential mentors and identify mentors for each candidate; encourages and assists candidates with development of issue expertise appropriate to office.
- Training Committee: plans circuit training for full membership twice a year (January and August**); plans intensive training for candidates***;
Conduct Prospective Candidate Training (i.e., so, you want to run for office!)
Identify potential representatives for Endorsement Committee (EC) and announce criteria and consequences (i.e. EC members can’t run or lead a candidate’s campaign committee)
Endorsement Committee Eligibility Criteria. Steering Committee and DWC members current on membership dues. EC members cannot be directly involved in a leadership role on a political campaign nor have expressed their personal endorsement for any candidate in any race in which the DWC endorsements may be determined. Those serving on a campaign committee or team shall recuse themselves from the endorsement interview and deliberations for that office.
Conduct candidate training (i.e. circuit training, candidate organization meeting)
Identify mentors to assist candidates (i.e. to assist in the preparation of application for endorsement, to advise about position)
Appoint SC representatives to Endorsement Committee. The Steering Committee will choose its representatives on the Endorsement Committee. For example, six SC members are chosen to serve on the Endorsement Committee who are Steering Committee members. (DWC members – one fewer than SC appointees - are appointed to the EC in February). Current or Past SC members can serve as SC representatives on the EC.
The size of the EC will be informed by anticipated number of candidates seeking endorsement and be large enough to allow the creation of subcommittees to avoid conflicts of interest.
Provide Candidates endorsement application packet. As soon as a candidate files, they will be sent an endorsement application packet (which includes all expectations) and are encouraged to confirm their intention to apply for endorsement as soon as possible. Early confirmation of intent will help provide the EC Committee more time to complete viability assessments and preparations prior to interviews.
Appoint DWC members to Endorsement Committee. At the February DWC Breakfast meeting: nominations of DWC members will be taken (nominations from the floor or self-nominations) to total one FEWER than the number of Steering Committee Members on the Endorsement Committee. Using the example above, five Endorsement Committee members who are not members of the Steering Committee will be chosen. If more members are interested in serving than is needed, a quick ballot will be cast among the members who are present.
Conduct Endorsement Committee Meetings
Initiate Application and Interview process
The Endorsement Committee ensures all candidates are invited to apply for endorsement and to inform candidates of the application due date and interview date. Predetermined questions consistent across candidates and some specific to the political office will be provided to all candidates in advance of the interviews. Relevant follow-up questions will also be asked.
According to a schedule determined by its members, the Endorsement Committee interviews the applicants in person or by phone. Following the interviews, the Endorsement Committee will determine which candidates are recommended for endorsement. More than one candidate for a seat may be recommended for endorsement.
The list of recommended candidates will be conveyed to the SC for final approval and notification to candidates. The SC prepares the ballot of recommended candidates for membership vote.
Conduct candidate training (i.e., mock forums)
March or April
Vote on SC Recommended Candidates by DWC Membership. At the DWC Breakfast Meeting (and via email 5 days prior): DWC members eligible to vote (must have paid annual membership prior to meeting) will receive a ballot, which indicates candidates recommended for endorsement, and lists ALL candidates who applied for endorsement.
- Candidates who receive 2/3 of the votes cast (not 2/3 of total membership) will be ENDORSED.
- Candidates who do not receive the requisite votes but who are recommended for endorsement by the committee will be considered SUPPORTED.
- In races in which there are multiple candidates recommended for endorsement, DWC members will have an option to support multiple or all candidates in a race rather than to endorse one.
- Candidates who are not supported or endorsed, or who are caucused in, may be reconsidered for support or endorsement for the General Election (November) following a Primary Election victory
Determine funding for DWC endorsed candidates. The SC will decide funding levels for endorsed candidates based on candidate request, total candidate budget, and an assessment of competitiveness of the race and funds needed to be a successful candidate.
April – November
Support endorsed candidates. DWC will provide support as outlined in the Candidate Policy
Consider new candidates. Candidates who are not supported or endorsed, or who are caucused in or are named by the Party chair to fill a vacancy, may be reconsidered for support or endorsement for the General Election (November) following a Primary Election victory.
DWC CANDIDATE POLICY
The DWC has established the following guidelines for candidates, reflecting our mission to support the candidacy and election of progressive, pro-choice Democratic women.
- Prior to endorsement:
Announcing candidacy: The DWC chair will recognize every Democratic candidate for office who is present at a DWC meeting (breakfast, meeting, or other event). No one will be invited to announce their own (or another’s) candidacy at a DWC breakfast, meeting, or other event.
Campaign events/efforts: No one will be invited to announce their own (or another’s) campaign event/request at a DWC event or meeting.
Funding: No one is eligible to receive funding from the DWC-PAC during this time period. However, an effort to “bundle checks” from the membership for a woman Democrat running for a non-local office may be undertaken. In this case, individual members are welcome to contribute to a campaign, but DWC-PAC funds will not be utilized for this fundraising effort.
Distributing literature: Candidates who wish to distribute campaign literature (seeking donations, invitations to events, petition signatures, calls for volunteers, etc.) at a DWC meeting or event are asked to abide by the following guidelines: Any Democrat may leave their campaign literature, buttons, or other materials at one centrally located table during the event.
DWC website: Individual campaign/candidate websites will not be linked on the DWC Website. A link to the Monroe County Democratic Party website appears on the DWC website and will be included in the Monday Morning News will provide access to all candidate information.
- Following vote of support/endorsement, through the Primary up until the General Election
Announcing candidacy: Every Democratic candidate for office will have their candidacy announced at a DWC breakfast, meeting, or other event by a member of the Steering Committee. Only a candidate who is supported or endorsed by the DWC may announce her candidacy (or someone may announce it for her if she is absent) at a DWC breakfast, meeting, or other event.
In addition, the candidacy of supported or endorsed candidates may be published on the DWC website, announced in the Monday Morning News and/or included in the monthly breakfast meeting Announcements (printed sheet). A woman Democrat running for a non-local office may also announce their candidacy, and/or have that information published on the DWC website, announced in the Monday Morning News and/or included in the monthly breakfast meeting Announcements.
Campaign events/efforts: Candidates who are endorsed or supported by the DWC and woman Democrats running for a non-local office are the only candidates who may announce their own campaign event/volunteer request at a DWC event or meeting. They may also announce campaign events, fundraising efforts, or calls for volunteers via an announcement (by a member of the DWC Steering Committee) at a DWC meeting or event, the printed Announcement sheet distributed at breakfast meetings, the DWC website, and/or the Monday Morning News.
Funding: Only candidates endorsed by the DWC may be considered for funding by the Steering Committee. No other candidate is eligible to receive funding from the DWC-PAC during this time period. However, an effort to “bundle checks” from the membership for a woman Democrat running for a non-local office may be undertaken. In this case, individual members are welcome to contribute to a campaign, but the DWC-PAC funds will not be utilized for this fundraising effort.
Distributing Literature: Candidates who wish to distribute campaign literature (soliciting donations, invitations to events, calls for volunteers, etc.) at a DWC meeting or event are asked to abide by the following guidelines: Any Democrat may leave their campaign literature, buttons, etc. at one centrally-located table. However, only candidates who are endorsed or supported by the DWC and non-local woman Democrats may distribute literature to individuals in person and/or at every seat at the event/meeting.
Campaign Literature: Only endorsed candidates may note “Endorsed by the Democratic Women’s Caucus” on their campaign website, literature, or any other published product. Similarly, supported candidates may note “Supported by the Democratic Women’s Caucus”.
DWC website: Only candidates who are endorsed or supported by the DWC are invited to have a link to their campaign websites listed on the DWC website. A link to the Monroe County Democratic Party website will appear on the DWC website and will be included in the Monday Morning News to provide access to all candidate information.
Caveat on Rescission: The DWC has the responsibility to rescind endorsement or support at any time if a candidate fails to adhere to the Candidate Policy, is found to have concealed or misrepresented material facts related to their candidacy, or no longer meets the three criteria for endorsement.
*DWC endorsement and support may be extended to candidates for all city, town, township, and county offices, and state assembly (House and Senate) races whose districts include Monroe County. DWC PAC does not endorse women in Federal or local School Board, or for other State offices. However, other forms of assistance, including training, or event support, maybe available to candidates for these offices.
**General membership training aims to encourage DWC members to consider running for office, and might include: answering the question of “why am I running for office?”; campaign calendar and budget, strategies for direct voter contact, free media, volunteer management, fundraising, and developing a campaign plan.
***Intensive candidate training aims to prepare registered candidates to run a successful campaign, and might include: messaging and stump speech practice, issue-specific training, in-depth review of office-specific responsibilities; ethics in public service (including campaign finance laws); developing and executive a campaign plan; fundraising; forum and speech practice.