Special Election Endorsement Process: 19th Suffolk

Act on Mass will be endorsing candidates for State Representative in the 2021 special election in the 19th Suffolk District. The endorsement process will have 2 components:

  1. Written questionnaire that will be made public covering
  • Progressive issues 
  • Transparency rules
  • Commitment to running a grassroots campaign (not public)
  1. Zoom interview understanding the candidate’s:
  • Theory of change
  • Character
  • Willingness to stand up to leadership and the broken culture of the Massachusetts State House. 

Written Questionnaire

Progressive Issues

Act on Mass aims to endorse candidates who will champion key progressive legislation and in particular, fight to ensure that “must-have” legislation for each issue area is either voted on favorably by the House or voted on the record at least once during the 2-year term. Thus we expect a written commitment to stand for roll call and vote in favor of these bills, whether presented for a vote as a bill or amendment.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list of issues important to the progressive movement. We have selected these “must-have” legislation by:

  • How much they are championed by Act on Mass partnering organizations and members
  • How catastrophic it is to wait on voting for these pieces of legislation, and
  • The number of times they have been blocked by the House after being passed by the Senate.

Transparency Rules

Act on Mass’ core mission is to hold the State House accountable to grassroots activists, unions, and voters. One of the major barriers to this are the House rules on transparency. Thus, we aim to endorse candidates who are committed to fighting for rule changes in 2021 that will enable transparency in the State House. Given these are transparency rules and there is only one short period at the beginning of the session that they will be discussed or voted on, we expect all votes to be taken on the record as an amendment. Candidates are asked to answer on the assumption that they will have a chance to vote on these amendments, although it is possible that the rules will be voted on before they are sworn into office in April.

Commitment to Running a Grassroots Campaign

Act on Mass aims to endorse candidates who will increase engagement of voters with the MA State House rather than discourage voters from making hard asks of their legislators. Running a strong field-driven, grassroots campaign is an essential step to increasing voter engagement and encouraging accountability of State Representatives. Thus, we ask how many voters candidates have phonebanked, how many they intend to phonebank, and if they have the resources to reach their voters. Act on Mass reserves the right to pause on endorsing a candidate until they have proven their campaign’s capacity to engage voters but are willing to provide guidance and resources to help campaigns reach appropriate field metrics for victory.

(Note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we do expect candidates to knock on doors, but we would ordinarily ask such questions to determine if a candidate is running a field-driven campaign)

We will also do a background check on candidates to ensure there is nothing of concern publicly available that the candidate has said or done that would risk their viability as a candidate.

Answers to these questions will not be made public. 

Zoom Interview

Act on Mass aims to endorse candidates who share our theory of change to reform the State House rules and improve its culture. This means having a willingness, commitment, courage, and conviction to stand up to leadership and challenge the broken culture of the Massachusetts State House. It is our belief that we cannot merely ask candidates about progressive legislation or values, but we must also ask how they will fight for change.

We recognize that determining this is challenging and subjective. We anticipate we will learn a great deal from this process and will enable us to improve the questionnaire for future election cycles.

In addition, it is far more challenging to make an assessment of how someone will behave in the State House prior to entering the State House than for an incumbent, who has a record to show for their work. We also believe that, in general, the cards are stacked against first-time State Reps than it is for incumbents. It is not Act on Mass’ mission or ethos to protect those in positions of power but to be constantly challenging what is possible, and expect more from people in power. Thus, although the questions we ask incumbents and first-time State Reps to be the same, our assessment of incumbents will additionally include votes they have taken and whether they stood for roll call for key votes.

We will record, edit and publish these interviews on our website. Our goal is that the interview will be informative for our members who are considering volunteering for or donating to the candidate. Act on Mass will determine based on questionnaire answers who to invite to an interview.

All candidates will sign a release form on the video footage.

Candidates will be given 4 minutes to answer each question and will be prompted at the 2 min, 1 min, and 30 second mark.

Timeline

  • Deadline for applying for our endorsement is Sunday Jan 31st at 11:59PM
  • Completed questionnaires should be emailed to matt@actonmass.org
  • Endorsement decisions will be made by the Act on Mass board
  • Interviews will scheduled the week of Feb 1st
  • Endorsement decisions will be announced by Feb 9th
  • We may choose not to make any endorsement.

To seek our endorsement please email matt@actonmass.org. Any questions should be directed to matt@actonmass.org