Our 2019–2020 strategic plan

Where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why


Run for Something will help recruit and support young diverse progressives to run for down-ballot races in order to build a bench for the future — the folks we support now could be possible members of the House, Senate, and maybe even President one day. We aim to lower the barriers to entry for these candidates by helping them with seed money, organization building, and access to trainings needed to be successful.

  1. Make public service desirable, interesting, and honorable again! Running for office is not something just rich old white men do — and it’s not something only slimeballs do, either. We aim to permanently improve and expand the definition of “politician,” and bring it back to public service.
  2. Build a long-lasting organization that can recruit progressive candidates for every single one of the 500,000+ down ballot offices across the United States — starting with someone who will run in every state legislative race in targeted redistricting seats in 2020.
  3. Be the safety net for candidates — from getting folks thinking about running for office to actually launching a campaign all through to Election Day, providing support that allows candidates to run efficient, grassroots-oriented, voter contact-driven campaigns (and not to feel so alone while they do it.)
  1. An exhaustive review of what we’ve done over the last two years. We get into the weeds on strategy, tactics, who did what, and how the whole thing operated.
  2. Where we succeeded, where we failed, and where we think we can improve.
  3. Where we want to go from here, specifically with 2019–2020 in mind, and an eye toward the future — plus, how much it’ll cost.

2017/2018 recap

Our 2018 winners!! Look at all those beautiful world-changing faces.
  • 55% of our winners are women
  • 50% are people of color
  • 16% are LGBTQ


Look at all those beautiful Run for Something candidates!
  • We use Twitter for connecting with journalists, activists, and grassroots supporters. We highlight stories of our candidates, reinforce our core messages about how the political system needs to change, and are a bit more informal (and occasionally, profane.)
  • Facebook is for “real people,” so to speak — our audience there is a little older. They love stats, factoids, and engaging candidate stories. We love them!
  • Instagram rolled out during the spring of 2018. We used the platform to highlight candidates, doing “candidate takeovers” every week and letting them tell their stories directly.
  • We rolled out on Tumblr in fall 2018 and use it nearly exclusively for candidate stories. Young people are the primary users on Tumblr — they’re the kind of folks who should consider running for office.
  • Our “Why We Run” series on Medium (and then posted on all platforms and over email) highlighted candidates with Q&As to get at both their backstories as well as how we helped them.
  • 10% of the folks recruited actually get on the ballot, giving us a good sense of how big we need our top-of-funnel to be in order to yield actual candidates.
  • White men are the mostly likely to sign up, but women of color are the most likely to actually get on the ballot, meaning our pipeline and proactive outreach to underrepresented communities is reaching the targeted audience.
  • The folks most likely to actually run are the ones interesting in solving problems and can clearly identify that. This informs the kind of framework we should apply to advertising and storytelling moving forward.
  • Barely 9% of potential candidates mentioned Trump on their intake survey and only 3% of confirmed candidates did so. 40% of candidates on the ballot mentioned local issues. Again, this informs how we can message to recruit the most likely “real” candidates moving forward.
Look how few people mention Trump… this isn’t about him!


  1. We do not have to do everything ourselves, especially when other people are already doing it or do it better.
  2. Support should be as accessible to as many people as possible, in whatever way candidates need it. We might not know the best way to help them!
  3. As they say in the critically acclaimed ABC show Lost: Live together, die alone. As applied to our work: Running for office is really hard, but you don’t have feel so lonely when you’re doing it.
  • Progressive, whatever that means wherever they live — we believe in basic progressive values, but do not demand purity to any particular policy, nor do we have a strict litmus test. Our candidates are running for too many offices and we work in too many states (i.e.: all of them) to do that.
  • Authentically rooted in their community — this doesn’t mean born-and-bred somewhere, but it does mean someone has ties where they’re running, and represents that community in a meaningful and genuine way.
  • Willing to work hard and talk to voters — we don’t sugarcoat how hard running for office is.
  • Interesting and compelling to talk to — if our volunteer enjoys the conversation, voters probably will, too!
  • We co-sponsored trainings with EMILY’s List and heavily recruited women to attend from our lists
  • We encouraged women to apply for Emerge’s 6-month intensive candidate training programs across the country
  • We worked closely with the National Democratic Training Committee to make sure our candidates had access to their extensive library of free, online, campaign resources
  • We recommended candidates for endorsements by groups (like Flippable, Working Families Party, MoveOn, DFA, #VoteProChoice, etc) and people (like President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton)
  • One Vote at A Time made videos for more than 30 of our candidates
Meet Lina, the new Harris County Judge
  • Civic Power Media and The Creative Cabinet supported our candidates with creative help
  • The Hometown Project connected public figures/celebrities with our candidates
  • Get Her Elected, a group of women content creators run by Lily Herman, worked with dozens of our women candidates
  • We worked with Mobilize America and text messaging platforms to ensure our candidates received the best tech tools for them to win
  • How to Fight Climate Change as a City Councilmember
  • How to incorporate DREAMERs and DACA protections into a local campaign
  • GOTV 101 for first-time candidates
  • Cybersecurity for small campaigns
  • Money wasn’t the biggest value-add we could provide candidates — community was.
  • It was so helpful to have someone to ask questions to who didn’t have financial skin in the game — meaning, if they asked a stupid question, we wouldn’t yank our support.
  • Two-thirds of our losing 2017 candidates wanted to run again
  • 50,000 candidates was a lot! Our pace of candidate recruitment stayed relatively stable throughout the months (about 1,000 a month) but especially as the 2018 elections crept up, folks focused on those. We also found advertising for these leads — particularly if we wanted good leads — to be prohibitively expensive.
  • 1,000 endorsed candidates would have been possible had we endorsed all the folks who applied. We would have had to lower our standards, and frankly, would have had to engage more deeply with candidates who didn’t meet our “hell yeah!” test. We had to make a decision: Meet our arbitrary goal, or miss it but maintain the quality of race we aspired to engaged with? We chose the latter, and will happily defend that.


  • Major gifts from folks including Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca, New Media Ventures, Onward Together, and partners across the progressive movement. Some of this funding was program-specific; others were general operating funds.
  • A focused online fundraising program that raised a steady amount of money with an average gift hovering below $45 and included merchandise sales.
  • More than 25 small/medium-sized fundraising events across the country in New York, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Madison, Sacramento, and London. Events ranged from meet-ups with $35 or free tickets to $50,000 events with catered food, alcohol, and large host committees.
  • One big event! Party for Something, held in D.C. in June 2018, where Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren all spoke, along with Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy. We played cornhole! It was fun, and just as important, the event raised nearly $250,000. We plan on doing it again, so get psyched.
  • Staff — including health care and benefits
  • Travel — fundraising trips, in-region travel for regionals, and the cost of bringing a remote team together regularly
  • Legal fees
  • Advertising
  • Video production
  • Merchandise production and shipping
  • Fundraising and event expenses

Values & philosophies

  • Local and state government directly affects people’s lives — it’s critical to have good progressives in those offices, making those decisions.
  • Most local elections are manageable, affordable, and can be won purely on hustle by the right candidates.
  • Our future presidents, governors, and members of Congress will come from our bigger pool of present-day state legislators, city councillors, and school board members.
  • Running strong local candidates who do aggressive voter contact will spur more voter turnout, helping Democrats at every level of government.
  • Federal races
  • Expanding our age limit — we’ll keep our focus on young people
  • Officially merge with the Democratic Party
  • Advocate for specific policy positions
  • We have big dreams and are unafraid to pursue them.
  • We have a high risk tolerance; we’re not afraid of fighting the system when fighting is necessary. We’re not afraid of primaries either.
  • We’re willing to fail; we’d rather fail than avoid challenge.
  • We believe in radical openness; we never shy away from challenging dialogue.
  • We tell the truth, even when telling the truth is difficult.
  • We’re transparent.
  • We’re here for the candidates and we put their needs first.
  • We meet people where they are, with warmth and without judgment.
  • We work hard while respecting people’s lives outside work.
  • We support Democrats that share our values and want to run for office.
  • We value cultural competences and strive to exemplify it in all we do.
  • We believe in diversity and seek to build a team that demonstrates diversity across race, class, geography, professional background, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  • We’re committed to our goals and will make short-term sacrifices in service of our long-term goals.
  • We take principled stands, but don’t believe it’s our job to be the “purity police.”
  • We invest in talent, both at RFS and in the field.
  • We build infrastructure designed to last beyond individual election cycles.

2019, 2020, & beyond

Run for Something will be the premiere local candidate recruitment and support institution across the Democratic party and progressive movement.

  • Any young progressive thinking about possibly running for office
  • First or second-time 40 and under candidates
  • State and local parties when they are looking for young and diverse candidates
  • Organizations who train candidates
  • Donors who care about recruiting and supporting local candidates
  • State and local party infrastructure that is unable to provide resources to candidates outside of their top targets
  • Reporters, content creators, artists, and anyone else looking to tell interesting stories about the present-and-future leaders of the Democratic Party
  1. Run candidates in as many races as possible! By the end of 2020. Run for Something will build something that has never existed before on the left: Candidate recruitment infrastructure that is massive, permanent, year-round, and (eventually) across all 50 states.
  2. Support candidates at every step of their campaign — we’ll have folks signing up with us who are three weeks out from Election Day and folks who are three years out from Election Day. We want to be able to provide what candidates need when they need it. We want to build on the success of our support program in 2017 and 2018 to take the work to the next level.
  3. Continue building an organization that can do this work sustainably (and have fun, too!)

Big picture: The organization’s work doesn’t change. What does is the structure within which we do the work and how we prioritize our efforts.

The 2019–2020 electoral calendar

  • Governor: Kentucky (R), Louisiana (D), Mississippi (open seat)
  • Legislature — Mississippi, Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey (all election days are 11/5 except LA)
  • Major municipal elections in at least 20 states, including: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin
Map courtesy of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee



  • Access to tools that may be helpful to candidates, like Mobilize, peer-to-peer texting, website templates, and the voter file. In a dream world, Run for Something would have licenses to the tools and be able to direct candidates to what makes the most sense for their campaigns
  • Earned and social media support in an operationalized way that also allows for spontaneity



  • Pedro Torres-Mackie, the founder and managing director of Quotidian Ventures, an early stage Venture Capital fund based in the Flatiron District of NYC. He started Quotidian in 2010 to invest in passionate entrepreneurs and help them realize their potential to turn innovative ideas into groundbreaking companies, and has invested in 60+ startups with $1.5B+ in realized exits to date. In 2015, he was selected as part of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Venture Capital. Outside his work at Quotidian, Torres-Mackie is a member of the Advisory Board for the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE), a member of the board of directors at the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education (CSNYC) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, an Advisor to Angel List, and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Design Lab.
  • Tim Lim, CEO of Lim Consulting Services LLC, which focuses on political strategy, organizational development, and fundraising. Tim most recently was a Partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), a full-service marketing agency that works with political campaigns, corporations and advocacy organizations, as well as the President and Founder of Precision Network, a cutting-edge media buying firm.
  • Jen O’Malley Dillon, a veteran organizer, campaign manager and pioneer in the use of data analytics to target voters and consumers. She is currently a Partner at Precision Strategies, and most recently served as Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama’s reelection campaign, overseeing the largest field organization in the history of presidential campaigns, voter protection and education programs, and political outreach, and leading the development and use of data analytics to target, register, persuade and mobilize voters. Before that, she was Executive Director of the DNC. Jen has worked at every level of office — from state senate and mayoral races to five presidential campaigns.
  • Abby Pucker. Abby is passionate about supporting initiatives at the intersection of tech, media and culture that are driving society to be more inclusive and amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. She has invested in a number of LA and New York based companies in both the media and community spaces and is involved in others in an advisory capacity. Most recently, Abby was leading expansion efforts at Catalyte, a mission-driven for profit company that uses AI to identify, upskill and assemble high-performing software development teams. Her work on mission-driven film and theater projects as an executive producer and producer for the past two years along, with her time in the tech space, spurred on her recent jump from the tech world to entertainment full time as the Director of Business Development at Madison Wells Media, a diversified media company based in LA.
  • Emmy Ruiz, an operative and strategist who has worked in Democratic politics for more than a decade. She is committed to working with communities of color and working to change the face of power.
  • Teddy Goff, a co-founder and partner at Precision, where he leads our digital practice. Teddy’s team develops strategies and runs programs for major corporations, innovative startups, leading nonprofits, and progressive campaigns. Most recently, Teddy was the senior advisor for digital and technology for Hillary for America. In 2012, Teddy was the Digital Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign, leading the President’s digital strategy and managing the 250-person nationwide team responsible for the campaign’s social media, email, web, online advertising, online organizing, front-end and product development, design, and video presences. TIME described his work as “redefining the limits of viral politics.”


  • 2019: $3.4 million; 2020: $4.5 million
    Two year total: $8 million
  • 2019: $4.63 million; 2020: $6.12 million
    Two year total: $10.79 million
  • 2019: $6.21 million; 2020: $8.29 million
    Two year total: $14.5 million




Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net

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Run for Something

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net