To endorse or not to endorse?

As an official Democratic club, Grand Street Democrats has been asked over the past couple months to endorse upstate Congressional Democratic candidates and outer-borough State Senate No-IDC challengers. The GSD Executive Committee met recently to discuss our process of providing endorsements. After much discussion, we realized that the best use of our time and attention would be to focus our efforts on races in which our members can actually vote.

To officially endorse any campaign, we would need to follow the rules we established in our bylaws for fairness to all candidates: we need to invite candidates to meet with our members, then give members a chance to vote on an endorsement. We will go through this process for all important races that affect us directly, but to do it for every campaign looking for support is not logistically practical.

Nor is it effective — what does a GSD endorsement really mean for a Democrat not looking to represent the Lower East Side? Let’s face it, they’re looking to talk to local Democratic activists outside their district mainly for one reason: money. We can’t vote for them, but we can contribute, and they probably need all the help they can get. “Endorsed by Grand Street Democrats” is not really what they need, so we’re not going to waste your time trying to give it to them.

But contributions are important; so is awareness of races outside our corner of Manhattan. GSD wants to encourage this kind of political engagement. How can we give candidates the attention they deserve?

We will try to do this in a few different ways. First, we’re partnering with Sister District, a national organization whose goal is to direct volunteer energy from deep blue districts like ours toward competitive races around the country. Secondly, we are working with other local Democratic clubs to sponsor a No-IDC forum where you can meet these progressive challengers all at once. We’ll let you know when the details have been nailed down, but we think it will be an exciting, thought-provoking event.

And third, we will help promote events hosted by GSD members for progressive candidates. So if you really care about that race in Brooklyn/Columbia County/North Carolina, and you want to help raise some money for it, host a meet-and-greet and let us know about it — we’ll tell GSD members about it through our growing email list and our active Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.

Promoting an event for GSD members to meet a progressive candidate is not an endorsement — but for those campaigns, it’s probably better than an endorsement; it’s definitely more effective and meaningful.

If you have other ideas, please let us know.