RSFDC Endorsement Policy

Standing Rules for Endorsements

The experiences of other Democratic clubs reveal the risks to club unity of disagreements over endorsements.  The Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club encourages members to bring to the attention of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) candidates and ballot measures that should be considered for endorsement.  The Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club (the “Club”) is committed to full and fair discussion of candidates and ballot measures. No disagreement about endorsements should result in a permanent division of the Club.  No single endorsement decision is as important as the unity and the ongoing influence of the Club.

1.    Club endorsements of candidates for public office and Club positions on ballot propositions may be determined at any properly noticed Club meeting, provided that a quorum is present and that the notice of the meeting included notification of the races, candidates and ballot measures to be considered for endorsement or rating. To be eligible to vote for endorsement of a candidate or ballot proposition, a member must have been a member in good standing at least 25 days prior to the meeting. Proxy voting and absentee voting are not permitted. Candidates and their staff members, who are otherwise eligible to vote, are also eligible to vote on all endorsements.

2.    Voting on any endorsement shall be by secret ballot when requested by any member eligible to vote.

3.    The Board shall recommend the races and propositions to be voted on by the Club. The Board will review potential candidates and propositions before recommending a vote of the membership. Except in statewide and national elections candidates will be requested to submit a candidate questionnaire to the Board. If acceptable to the Board, that questionnaire may be a copy of a questionnaire submitted to another Democratic organization for endorsement. Except as provided below in the case of Friendly Incumbent Endorsements, endorsements of candidates can be made only after the date that is three months prior to the filing deadline for that race.

4.    Only Democratic candidates may be endorsed by the Club.

5.    An affirmative vote of at least 60 percent of the eligible Club members present and voting shall be required to endorse a candidate, rate a candidate, or take a position on a ballot proposition. (Note: the vote required is measured by all eligible members “present and voting” and not those merely “present”.) The option of “No Position” shall be included in the endorsement vote for each race or ballot measure.

6.    All candidates for non-partisan office and all Democrats for partisan office are strongly encouraged to attend at least one general meeting of the Club during their candidacy. Ordinarily the Club will only endorse a candidate who has made such an appearance unless the candidate is running for statewide or national office.  Upon advance request to the Board, each candidate may be allotted time at a Club meeting to make a short presentation and answer questions. Whenever possible competing candidates requesting endorsement by the Club shall appear together at a Club meeting to debate or otherwise answer questions. If competing candidates are not able to appear together at a Club meeting, each candidate shall be given a reasonable period of time, as determined by the Board, to appear before the Club before an endorsement is given to any candidate in that race.

7.    If three or more candidates running for a single seat are competing for endorsement and if, after the completion of the voting, no candidate has received the 60 percent vote required for an endorsement, the two candidates with the highest vote totals shall be re-submitted for a vote. If, after the completion of the voting between two candidates, no candidate has received the 60 percent vote required for an endorsement, the meeting chair shall entertain motions to rate one or more of the candidates.

8.    Only one candidate may be endorsed per seat. An endorsement means that the Club recommends a vote for that candidate rather than any other candidate for that seat. It does not necessarily mean that the Club supports all the candidate’s positions.

9.    The Club may choose any of the following options for rating candidates who are not endorsed by the Club:

a.  “Approved” — Circumstances justifying this rating include, but are not limited to: (i) the candidate does not qualify for an endorsement, however the Club feels the person is supportable, (ii) the candidate has a good record and/or good position statements, however the Club disagrees with the candidate on one or more significant issues, (iii) there is more than one good candidate, and the Club prefers to rate some or each as acceptable rather than endorse a single candidate.

b.  “Not Recommended” — Circumstances justifying this rating include, but are not limited to, the determination that the candidate has a poor position or record on one or more critical issues.

c.  “No Position”—Circumstances justifying this rating include, but are not limited to the following: (i) not enough information is known about the candidate, (ii) the candidate has demonstrated a lack of responsiveness, (iii) the candidate appears to be between the ratings of “Approve” “and “Not Recommended”, (iv) it would not be politically expedient to take a position.

10.  The Club may rate any ballot proposition as “Support,” “Oppose,” or “No Position.”

11.    No vote to endorse or rate a candidate or proposition shall be final until ratified by the Board. Normally a vote will be ratified at a Board meeting following the general meeting at which the vote was taken. A vote shall be ratified unless it is determined there was an impropriety in the vote.

12.    No candidate or staff member of a campaign, including any candidate or staff member who is also a Club member, may be present for discussion on the office for which that candidate or campaign is contending.

13.    Club funds may be contributed only to the campaigns of candidates endorsed or rated “Approved” by the Club and ballot propositions earning a rating of “Support.” The Board may designate certain races and issues as “priority campaigns” to indicate that those campaigns should be given priority in terms of funding or Club- coordinated volunteer efforts. An endorsement, a rating of “Approve” or a vote of “Support” shall not entitle any candidate or group promoting a ballot proposition to a donation of Club funds or to Club-coordinated volunteer efforts.

14.    Any endorsement or rating given by the Club may be withdrawn at any time upon a vote of 60% of the members present and voting at a general meeting at which a quorum is present. This provision shall apply to Friendly Incumbent Endorsements in addition to all other endorsements or ratings.  In the event of significant changed or newly discovered circumstances, the Board shall have the power to suspend any endorsement or rating given by the Club and to submit that endorsement or rating to a re-vote at the next properly noticed Club meeting.

15.    Friendly Incumbent Endorsement Guidelines

a. A Friendly Incumbent Endorsement may be considered for any incumbent who has a supportive voting record on appropriate issues, as determined by the Board. The Friendly Incumbent Endorsement is intended to reward an incumbent for his or her support of Democratic and progressive positions. A Friendly Incumbent Endorsement may be made any time after the incumbent has announced his or her intention to run for re-election to his or her seat.  

b. A Friendly Incumbent Endorsement does not require the submission of a questionnaire to the Board unless specifically requested.

c. The Board may determine eligibility for a Friendly Incumbent Endorsement for an incumbent who has no voting record by virtue of holding an administrative, executive or other non-legislative office.

d. The voting requirements for any endorsement or rating shall be applicable to a Friendly Incumbent Endorsement.

e. When an incumbent does not receive a Friendly Incumbent Endorsement, the office will be treated as open. All candidates for that office (including the incumbent) will then be required to follow the standard endorsement procedure.