Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition-Activate
Endorsement Strategy and Process
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The Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition-Activate is a 501c4 non-profit organization. We are a partnership of over 250+ Influencers, Leaders and organizations that serve across the state. We made our first round of endorsements with partners in the fall 2018 elections and for one of the first times, the Muslim community has a statewide brand that people could stand behind and that candidates would vie for.
This document is based on the best practices from other organizations such as The People’s Lobby, ONE People’s Campaign, Asian American Midwest Progressives and others.
Difference Between SUPPORT & ENDORSEMENT
SUPPORT. The Coalition-Activate supports Muslim candidates by training candidates, connecting candidates to each other, promoting their names and websites, volunteering for their campaigns, using WhatsApp to promote them, etc.
ENDORSEMENT. The Coalition-Activate only endorses candidates that meet the criteria in this document. The Coalition-Activate does not endorse based solely on their being Muslim. Endorsement is a Political Strategy- both for the candidate and the endorsing organization. Endorsements must be strategic, must be fair, must have clear criteria, must come with funding/field support. Otherwise, both sides lose credibility.
Why Have Endorsements?
Coalition-Activate 501c4 organization will, during election cycles for local, state, or federal elections, find it beneficial to endorse candidates in our efforts to build and wield political power through:
Relationship Building with candidates and elected officials in order to co-govern with them
Targeted GOTV and field work aligned with endorsements in a campaign cycle
Strengthening the Coalition Base and capturing the mobilizing energy of elections and voters
Influencing the overall political issue environment by connecting a positive or negative public stance by a candidate to issues of concern for the Coalition
Overview of Endorsement Process
Convene an Endorsement Committee that leads the Coalition-Activate process
Select races to endorse in (see “Process for Selecting Races” below)
Review written questionnaire to disseminate to candidates and make revisions as needed each election cycle - IL Muslim Civic Coalition Endorsement Questionnaire
Email questionnaires to all candidates in races identified as priorities for the 2019 election cycle
Once responses are submitted, members review candidate responses
Optional/if possible/if needed: Invite selected candidates to an in person interview attended by members of the Endorsement Committee, staff, and/or Coalition-Activate’s 501c4 board
Committee deliberates and makes a recommendation of endorsement, non-endorsement, or other to the board. 60% threshold required for an endorsement recommendation.
Coalition-Activate 501c4 Board votes to ratify or veto the recommendation of the committee. Endorsements may also be made in groups, and not all at once.
Once endorsements are finalized, the Coalition-Activate will do the following things:
Press Release, email and Social Media/Networks Posts. We will work with candidate's team to finalize.
Voter Engagement Support - phone-banking and/or door-knocking, other opportunities to engage with voters
Financial Support recommendations shared with members
Above actions will have a legal review by our Legal Team
Process for Selecting Races
The Coalition-Activate’s Endorsement Committee is tasked with selecting the races in which we will initiate an endorsement process. They will consider the following:
Is this a district where we have civic influence and/or want to build more influence? Strategic opportunity for the Coalition and Muslim voters to be the margin of victory.
Will the outcome of the race impact an issue that the Coalition cares deeply about; or that we are already working on?
Is there a candidate that already has a good relationship and is closely aligned with us who we would love to see win (including a candidate from the Muslim community itself)?
What are the political risks of making or not making an endorsement in this race? For example, is there a risk of splitting our base? Or opportunity to grow it? Is there a risk of alienating allies or will we attract new allies?
Opportunity for us to build/broaden our base and/or Coalition-Activate in the geographic area or through campaigns?
Are our partners and members genuinely excited to support this candidate with their time, money and credibility?
Endorsement Criteria for Candidates
The criteria below are meant to provide a framework for a nuanced discussion about candidates. Not every item on the list is a yes/no question -- a candidate’s lack of one criterion does not necessarily disqualify them from endorsement.
Candidates must go through the process outlined above.
Coalition-Activate does not automatically endorse Muslim candidates- we endorse candidates who meet our core values towards a strong and equitable America.
A. Candidate Story (history, experience)
History of involvement in local community/neighborhood
Demonstrated leadership / impact on community issues, inclusion, social justice
On the issues identified in the Coalition-Activate’s Endorsement Questionnaire
C. Relationships (with ally orgs, divergent orgs, local orgs)
Significant endorsements, donors, affiliations w/ other orgs/individuals
D. Campaign Path to Victory
Must have field plan
Demonstrated ability to raise funds to compete
Assess campaign narrative/communications -- mainly through website
E. Coalition-Activate members’ capacity to offer support, field work, and financial contributions in the race.
Can we make a difference with our support?
Rescinding an Endorsement
If, upon further review, or upon actions by a candidate which the Coalition-Activate deems against our mission and core values (See Coalition Impact Strategy), the Coalition-Activate 501c4 board may with a unanimous vote rescind the endorsement of a candidate/official. Coalition-Activate staff will take appropriate action to communicate the rescinding of the endorsement.