As a first-time candidate, I was new to the endorsement process, which I have learned is an integral part of running for public office. This process requires candidates to complete questionnaires and attend interviews in order to demonstrate a commitment to a variety of policy areas. In return, endorsing organizations will show public support for candidates and in some cases, make financial contributions and provide volunteer support for endorsed candidates.
Initially, I felt intimidated by the thought of reaching out to organizations to seek their approval and prove my commitment to shared values. The cold calls, the invitations to sit across from a panel and answer rapid-fire questions, and the often intensive studying and preparation required were all daunting.
In the months since I first declared my candidacy in January, I have become familiar and comfortable with the endorsement process. The in-depth questionnaires and Zoom meetings have become second nature and I’ve grown to enjoy these conversations quite a bit. Most importantly, though, I’ve come to realize that the endorsement process is a ‘tour of DFL values’ and meant to reinforce what we as a party stand for, and to prepare me to go to battle for those values.
Having gone through many endorsements over the past months, I can confidently state that I am thrilled and honored to be firmly in the DFL camp. Here’s what I’ve learned about the DFL Party through the endorsement process:
We care about the greater good:
In the middle of a pandemic, the dichotomy between individual freedoms and thinking about the greater good is a matter of life or death. The DFL takes this further and approaches the question of justice from a holistic standpoint. Whether meeting with the historic labor organizations, such as AFSCME Council 5, the AFL-CIO, or MAPE, one message was clear: “We all do better when we all do better.” This message was front and center regardless of the specific focus area of a specific organization. Whether I was discussing environmental justice with the Sierra Club or how fully funding our schools will erase the opportunity gap with Education Minnesota, the conversation inevitably circled back to the central point that Mahatma Ghandi put best: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The DFL and its supporting organizations believe that we must rise up together.
We believe healthcare is a right:
Again, the pandemic has highlighted the life-or-death importance of healthcare in society. We now see in striking numbers that if some of us do not have access to healthcare, this lack of access has a public health impact on society as a whole. Healthcare is central to so many organizations that I have met with to seek endorsement. The DFL Senior Caucus advocates for healthcare affordability for Seniors. The Veterans Caucus seeks to advocate for sufficient skilled care nursing beds for Veterans. Planned Parenthood continues its historic crusade for women’s reproductive rights. The Stonewall DFL Caucus focuses extensively on the health disparities LGBTQ individuals face and how we can address them. Literally all of the organizations I have met with, from labor to the rights of different community groups, have all focused heavily on healthcare as a human right.
We have empathy:
For those of us engaged in DFL politics, the goal is more than an abstract principle. Yes, we care about our democratic institutions. We care about individual freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights. As a former ACLU-MN Board Member and an attorney, the rights of Free Speech, Freedom of Assembly, and Equal Protection under the law are all deeply important to me. That said, the conversations I have had with the endorsing organizations have centered around the real-world impact of policies on our community. Workers deserve a living wage and robust benefits – not just because they do, but because this impacts their ability to live a safe, abundant and healthy life. ISAIAH’s sister organization, Faith in Minnesota, aims to create a people-centered politics in Minnesota, with policy goals that span criminal legal reform, creating an inclusive society that doesn’t discriminate based on religion, and that supports our schools and our children. In short, we’re in politics because we care about people’s quality of life.
As I continue to have these endorsement conversations, I am becoming a better person. I have become more well-rounded and sophisticated on issues that I previously had a commitment to on gut instinct and on which I can now articulate clear policy goals. I am building connections to the incredible advocates who have dedicated their careers to advocacy for our schools, our environment, our healthcare rights, and the basic driving principle that every resident in the State of Minnesota deserves a life of dignity. As I continue to meet with organizations that share my values and seek their endorsement, I look forward to the process of expanding my knowledge-base, making new connections that will allow me to be an effective advocate in the legislature, and making many new friends along the way.
In parting, I encourage readers to learn more about the DFL’s Minnesota Values Project, which articulates with eloquence and specificity how we can work together to build a better future for all Minnesotans. I am honored to be DFL-endorsed and look forward to contributing to this worthy goal.
Here is a link to the Minnesota Values Project: