Our first Run for Something candidates
We’re excited to announce that Run for Something is officially fundraising for four Virginia candidates ahead of the Democratic primary on June 13th.
We want to take a few minutes to introduce our first four Run for Something Matching Funds recipients, explain how these candidates were chosen, why we’re starting with Virginia, where Run for Something currently stands, and what’s next.
But first, a reminder on our philosophy about picking candidates
We got into the details on this in our updated strategic plan — but it’s worth reiterating:
We’re not in the business of picking winners and losers. Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to run. We are taking the incubator approach: Plant a thousand seeds and see what grows. Our criteria for funding (scroll all the way down to review those) are intentionally set up to get as many folks in the door as possible and to increase the number of people who are eligible.
We certainly want our candidates to win! But even if they don’t, they’re doing the hard work of talking to voters, engaging volunteers, and talking about progressive values on the local level. All the “party-building” you might see people chatting about on Twitter? Our candidates are actually doing it. They’re taking the big messages and translating them for people when they knock doors and make calls. That’s what matters. Winning is great (and important), but it’s not the only good thing that comes out of a campaign. We’re proud to enable our candidates to do that work better and more effectively.
Who we’re supporting
Josh King, VA-2
Josh is an Army combat veteran, a Deputy Sheriff, and a father of three, including a daughter with autism. He ran in 2015 and lost by only 125 votes.
Sara Townsend, VA-31
Sara is a middle school civics teacher. She wants to fight for our schools and for good-paying jobs for Virginian families.
Ken Boddye, VA-51
Ken is a community association insurance underwriter and marketer who lives in Woodbridge. He is involved in community groups and devotes his free time to political activism in the area.
Hannah Risheq, VA-67
The daughter of a Muslim Arab immigrant father and a Jewish-American mother, Hannah’s family was discriminated against after 9/11/01. She wants to fight for a diverse and economically prosperous Virginia.
Donate right now to support all four candidates:
How we chose these four candidates
Every candidate met our criteria. (Again, just scroll all the way down to review what we’re looking for.)
Some of them we’ve been working with over the last few months to get them on the ballot in the first place. Others, we reached out to after they’d already gotten off the ground. We talked to many of the under-35 year old Democratic candidates on the ballot in Virginia and offered our help. (If we didn’t reach out — please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Of the group of candidates that applied and met our criteria, we chose to begin with the people who are in competitive primaries, in order to prioritize people who can use the money ahead of the soonest Election Day.
We want to note: If we got applications from two folks running against each other in a primary and both met the criteria laid out below, we’d give them both money. It’s not on us to decide who best represents a community — it’s on the voters.
In the future, we hope to provide money even earlier in the election cycle, but given that we just launched, we had to be realistic about the timeline of these particular races. We’ve set what we think are manageable goals for this first round of fundraising after assessing what will make an impact for these candidates at this point in the race.
We want to be clear: The four Virginia candidates we’re fundraising for are NOT the only candidates we’re currently helping. They’re not even the only candidates in Virginia we’re helping! But they’re the first we’re raising money for because they’re the first for whom our money can really make a difference — we’ve looked at their budgets and what they’re spending, and the cash we give now can affect the literature they can pay for, the staff they can hire, and the outreach they can do.
Why we’re starting in Virginia
We chose Virginia for two simple reasons:
- Virginia is one of the few states to have competitive state legislative races in 2017 — and the primary is jampacked with candidates. The calendar helped us winnow down our focus.
- Legal reasons. Because of campaign finance rules in Virginia, it is much easier to set up the entities needed to donate to candidates in Virginia. I wish that weren’t the case, but that’s the reality.
We plan on giving money to folks other states over time as we set up the necessary entities to do so. For our candidates across the country, stay tuned!
What else is going on with Run for Something
Over the weekend, just like Donald Trump, we celebrated our own 100-day anniversary.
A few stats from our first 100 days:
- 9,141 people have signed up to run for office (!!!) — we expect to hit 10,000 by the end of June.
- 819 of those candidates have been screened by our volunteers — these are half-hour interviews looking for progressive values, community roots, work ethic, and compelling stories. (Our volunteers have done more than 400 hours of interviews!) The ones who meet our criteria now have access to community, resources, mentorship, and will be eligible to apply for funding.
- 163 mentors signed up to provide our candidates 1:1 support and guidance for free
- We’ve brought in $130,000 raised or pledged from nearly 4,500 contributions — our average gift is hovering around $28. This is a great start, but our first year budget is $2.1 million and we have a ways to go.
- To help us get there, people like you are holding fundraisers across the country; we call them Money Parties because, honestly, why not just call things what they are? We held an amazing fundraiser in D.C. in April and have Money Parties in Brooklyn, D.C., Chicago, and Rockville on the calendar through the end of June. Want to host one in your city? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll get you set up.
- That’s been enough for our scrappy team to grow a little: Welcome our Organizing Director, Sarah Horvitz, and our Chief Operating Officer, Seisei Tatebe-Goddu.
- We’ve come up in the press nearly 50 times in the last three months, helping us reach even more potential candidates and supporters. Check ’em out.
Now that we’ve built out a team, we’re putting together concrete plans for our candidate support program, organizing program, and some really exciting partnerships for the summer, fall, and beyond. As always, we’ll share our vision with you as we go — there are no secrets for how our organization runs. We’re open about how Run for Something is changing as we figure out what works and what doesn’t.
What we’ve learned with 100% certainty is that this work matters. We heard it from a young Deaf man who told us that after sharing a story about a Deaf elected official, he’s inspired to run, too, and from a young woman in Michigan who said that while her elected officials told her it wasn’t her turn, we took her call and gave her the support she needed to file for a state house race.
Our inboxes and DMs are filled to the brim with these kinds of notes — our candidates are going to change the world. By being a part of the Run for Something team, you’re helping change the world, too.
And make sure to stay tuned for updates on what’s next!
RUN FOR SOMETHING FUNDING CRITERIA
OPTION A: FUNDRAISING THRESHOLD
- The candidate must have raised 15% of the funds required for the race. This will be calculated based on the average cost of that race and/or similar races for the last 1–3 cycles. The fundraising haul may not be from just one donor or self-funded — the candidate needs to show grassroots engagement.
- We will verify based on either official campaign finance filings or a campaign account bank statement.
“Race” is defined as the campaign leading up to a vote; a primary is a separate “race” from a general.
OPTION B: CAMPAIGN PLAN
- Develop a detailed campaign plan that must be presented in our prescribed template.
2. Be officially on the ballot (i.e. filed paperwork and/or acquired petition signatures if needed) and have an opponent officially on the ballot
3. Submit to a basic background check — the candidate will have a chance to explain anything possibly contentious. This review is not to rule anyone out, but rather to help identify any known parts of self-research.
4. Be a Democrat and meet the Run for Something progressive criteria
5. Be 35 or younger as of Election Day
6. Be a first or second-time candidate
7. Be running for a down-ballot office — this is defined as anything below statewide and federal office.