Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
How the Sierra Club Endorses Candidates

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Endorsements

When it comes to making endorsements, the Sierra Club's top priority is to elect pro-environment candidates. Above all, Club policy is to endorse good incumbents, even if there are challengers who are better on one or two issues. This not only sends a strong signal to incumbents that it pays to vote pro-environment, it also allows Club leaders to continue building strong relationships with incumbents.

Club leaders say that an open seat vacated by a retiring incumbent is often our best chance to elect a great green candidate. But due to limited resources, the Club is unlikely to endorse a pro-environment candidate who is a long shot.

"My philosophy is that when we make endorsements we should really make them count," says Sandy Bahr, a member of the national Political Committee and Grand Canyon Chapter chair. "1996 represents an opportunity for us to target our resources and focus on helping people who have been real heroes on the environment. It's also a chance to unseat some of the anti-environmentalists who dominated the last elections."

How to Make Endorsements for Challengers and Open Seats:

  • 1. Identify all viable candidates. Remember, the Sierra Club is a bipartisan organization.
  • 2. Send questionnaires to the potential candidates, with a deadline for return. It's important to communicate with a candidate before any decisions are made.
  • 3. Request an interview. You don't have to meet personally with the candidate, but it could be helpful to communicate directly before any decisions are made.
  • 4. Research the candidate's record using information gathered from questionnaires, interviews and voting records.
  • 5. Vote on the candidate. For federal candidates, the Club must approve a candidate by a two-thirds vote of two entities: the Chapter Executive Committee and the national Political Committee. For any other level of political office, those entities are the chapter Executive Committee and one other designated chapter committee.
  • 6. For federal candidates, complete Form 1, Request for Approval of Endorsements and Activities for Federal Candidates (from the Compliance Guidelines). After receiving this form, the national Political Committee will consider the endorsement. Many chapters have similar forms for state and local races.
  • 7. If approved, inform the candidate that she or he has been formally endorsed by the Sierra Club.
  • 8. Plan a press event announcing the Sierra Club's endorsement of the candidate.
  • 9. Formulate a campaign plan.

How to Make Endorsements for Incumbents:

  • 1. Make early endorsements for incumbents with strong records.
  • 2. It's not necessary for an incumbent to fill out a questionnaire, but the chapter should at least talk to the candidate.
  • 3. A vote must be taken to approve the endorsement. See step 5 above.
  • 4 - 7. See steps 6 - 9 above.

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