I am frequently asked how advocacy groups decide to endorse (or not) a candidate for public office.
Usually, if the candidate is an incumbent endorsements are based upon that candidate’s voting record. If the candidate is not an incumbent, the candidate is asked to complete a questionnaire and possibly sit for an interview with members of the possibly endorsing group; sometimes incumbents are asked to complete questionnaires and sit for interviews as well. What an endorsement actually means varies widely from organization to organization. Many times an endorsement is simply that: a public seal of approval from an organization. Occasionally, an endorsement offers campaign assistance – messages urging support sent to the endorsing organization’s membership, a post on the organization’s website, volunteer help for the campaign,and/or funding for the campaign. Of course, any material campaign assistance must be reported as a campaign contribution.
Not all candidates for public office seek endorsement from all groups offering that opportunity.
However I do have a policy of responding to any and all offers of endorsement, whether my views align with the organization making the offer or not. I post endorsements on my website and sometimes use them in campaign advertising as well. In the spirit of full transparency, this year I have decided to publicly post both the questionnaires I have submitted and the ensuing endorsement decisions on my website.
To date, I have received endorsement questionnaires from the Equality Virginia Advocates, the FreeThought Equality Fund PAC (“the FEF’s mission is to help elect candidates who defend the separation of church and state), the NRA, the Virginia Professional Firefighters, the Farm Bureau, the AFL-CIO, Virginia’s List, One Virginia 2021 (request for a pledge), and the FEA/VEA. A few organizations, such as NARAL Pro-Choice, the Sierra Club, and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters have offered endorsements based upon my voting record, past accomplishments and past endorsements.
I am willing to participate in any endorsement process offered to me; and I will post both the process and the result on my website.
Here are a few examples of questions I have been asked in the candidate endorsement process:
One Virginia 2021 requested affirmation of the principle “that legislative district lines should not be drawn for the purpose of advantaging or disadvantaging any individual candidate or political party”. I replied that while I do not believe in the concept of campaign pledges and refuse to make advocacy group campaign pledges, the One Virginia 2021 pledge is an exception that I will be proud to make, therefore, I so pledge.
A few of the Virginia Education Association’s questions were: how I would work to provide state funding to raise teachers’ salaries, my opinion of state tuition tax credit programs, and a description of my top priorities for ensuring that Virginia offers a high quality education to all.
A sample of the questions asked by the NAACP are: what I think are the most pressing issues impacting minorities for the next Virginia General Assembly and how would I propose to address the minority student achievement gap.
For more information on candidate endorsement questionnaires and my answers, please go to my website KayeKory.com.
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected]