1. We support candidates who, if elected, would represent a significant break with the status quo for their district. We want candidates who take major leaps forward in one or more of our policy priority areas (see below). This looks different in different parts of America. Examples could include:
A politician in Louisiana who opposes public bailouts of the oil industry.
A politician in Virginia who opposes a pipeline being developed by the state’s most powerful corporation, Dominion.
A politician in Minnesota who supports a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy in their state.
A politician who only has moderately strong stances on climate issues, but who is going up against one of the worst-of-the-worst fossil fuel puppets.
2. We support politicians who will represent us, not the fossil fuel industry. Whether or not a candidate is willing to take money from the oil, gas and coal industry is a fairly clear litmus test of whose interests that politician is likely to represent.
In primary elections, we only endorse candidates who take the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” to “reject contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”
In general elections, we may support (but not endorse) a candidate who has not signed the pledge or has taken money from the fossil fuel industry because we recognize that an imperfect candidate could, in some cases, still represent a significant leap forward (see above) by defeating a powerful opponent with a long history of putting the interests of oil and gas executives first. No matter what, we will make this a major demand for general elections and push candidates on this issue.
3. No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Our only permanent allegiance is to protecting our communities, our shared home, and our future. We have to make it clear to politicians that our power and support are earned, and not a given. Just because we have supported a candidate in the past doesn’t mean that we will continue to support them in the future if there emerges (or the movement puts forth) a viable candidate that is better aligned with and more committed to our values and policy priorities.
Note: Endorsement vs. Support.
An endorsement is the public declaration of approval or support for a candidate for elected office. Sunrise supports all candidates that it endorses. At a minimum, this looks like announcing our support, displaying it on our website, and providing in-kind digital communications encouraging the public and our supporters to vote for the candidate. We may also support candidates on the ground with people power through electoral programs like Sunrise Semester, organize and direct our base to support candidates remotely with texting and calling tools, raise money directly for candidates (when legally permissible), and/or embed Sunrisers directly with candidates’ campaigns to provide high capacity support (when legally permissible). In some cases, Sunrise will also offer our support to candidates we do not endorse. This will happen when a candidate does not meet our standards for endorsement (e.g. the candidate hasn’t signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge), but the candidate’s opponent winning would be a completely unacceptable setback to our movement’s goals, and we make a strategic decision to campaign against the candidate’s opponent.
At a national movement-wide level, decisions around support and endorsement are guided by local leadership. Hubs are also welcome to make their own decisions and take their own actions around support and endorsement guided by the movement’s principles. For more information, see the “Sunrise National Endorsement process.”