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Cashing in on Endorsements

Campaign season is in full swing and that means it’s time to gather endorsements. This is the first of a three-part series on what campaign endorsements are, how you get them, and what progressive campaigns often have to weigh when planning endorsement outreach.

Endorsements are a key piece of information voters evaluate when casting their ballots. The handful of endorsements that campaigns think matter the most to the voters they’re trying to persuade show up in voter pamphlets. But endorsements go deeper than that—they can represent allegiances, beliefs, compromises, and biases and they can be the starting point to building power through relationships.

Endorsements do three key things:

🙏 They signal your values to voters and to people in power
🤝 They build relationships that you’ll need during your campaign or time in office
💰 They can lead to support in the form of money or capacity for your campaign

Okay you need them. How do you go out and get them? The process will depend on whose endorsement you are seeking out. There are four key kinds of endorsements:

🎗️ Organizational Endorsements: Endorsements can come from organizations that focus on particular issues or causes. These should represent causes you care about or the causes that are most important to the communities you need to vote for you.

🎉 Party Endorsements: These come from legislative district, county, or state-level party organizations. Different layers of the party apparatus are appropriate depending on which office you’re running for or what kind of campaign you’re running.

🤵 Personal Endorsements: Elected officials and other influential people in your community are good sources of endorsements if folks align with their goals and values. You can seek out important personal endorsements directly and you can have a form on your website to encourage individuals to endorse.

📰 Media Endorsements: Endorsements from media exist in their own category. Not all media outlets offer endorsements but the ones that do have editorial boards tasked with deciding who secures an endorsement. You’ll need to set up meetings with editorial boards and prepare to convince their folks that you deserve their vote. Be aware: editorial boards are not always aligned with the tilt of the news staff. For example, while The Seattle Times reporting is often excellent, their editorial board is notorious for trash endorsements of conservative candidates.

The processes can vary for securing endorsements but one thing is always true: you’ll need to set aside some time, particularly if you’re a new candidate. You’ll have to draft written answers, build out written materials for your campaign, schedule and attend interviews and participate in forums.

Check out our next blog post on ways to secure endorsements.