Run for Something: A strategic plan

1. What we do

Run for Something will help recruit and support diverse progressives under the age of 35 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.

2. Why we do it

The progressive movement has a systemic problem that has failed to create a diverse talent pipeline. We don’t have young people ready to move up in politics and we don’t have a bench that looks like the people we aim to represent.

There are two key points of failure: (a) candidate recruitment and (b) the process of running.

CANDIDATE RECRUITMENT: As it currently stands, typically, the Party (Party being a shorthand for the committees, state parties, and state house and senate caucuses) targets an open race or a vulnerable Republican incumbent. Then the staff and elected officials in the area will search for someone they or their networks know in the district (or they’ll literally uproot someone, move them to the district, and get them on the ballot.)

  1. Raising money was hard. Some candidates found that people wanted young people to serve in office but didn’t think they could win so weren’t willing to donate money to a lost cause. Other candidates explained that without a wealthy network of friends and family, they were starting from scratch. Money matters: Some state-level races can be as cheap as $25,000 — others could cost as much as $1 million.
  2. Finding professional staff and the mechanics of campaigning were tough. Many candidates said they wasted time and efficiency because their friends served as campaign managers instead of professional operatives. They often didn’t know how to actually get on the ballot without intensive research, and the operations of a campaign (volunteer recruitment, access to the voter file, how to calculate a win number, etc) were tricky to navigate without someone who had institutional knowledge.

3. How we do it

We’ll find the people the usual institutions would never take a chance on, we’ll encourage them to run, and we’ll ease the barriers to entry by giving these people the resources to succeed.

This seems very simple. But right now, running for office is scary. By being loud and proud about how important it is to run — and then following that up with action to get people plugged into a training and then a race — we can ease entry into elected office.


  1. Millennials. Right now, that means under the age of 35. We need young people.
  2. Progressive.
  1. 18–35 year-olds are the currently accepted definition of “millennial.” (We promise to use that word as rarely as possible.)

In this level of electoral politics, a little bit of money can absolutely make a difference.

Two examples from Virginia:

There are not that many experienced campaign managers — but there are many experienced communications, field, digital, and political staffers who could manage a race if given a shot and some mentoring. We’ll aim to match staffers with the right race and candidate, and provide them with a network of people willing to give advice.


4. Long term goals

2017 is a chance to test the model. In 2018 and beyond, we’d like to expand the ways we can support candidates to include:

5. Our values

We’re progressive. That means: pro-equality, pro-choice, pro-health care, pro-gun violence prevention, pro-immigration reform, pro-voting rights, pro-climate change prevention, and pro-campaign finance reform.

6. The nuts and bolts


  • Communications Director — for organizational communications and to support candidate communications programs
  • Digital Director — to manage the website, social platforms, online fundraising, digital organizing, and support candidates with their digital programs
  • Finance Director — to run fundraising
  • Operations Director — to literally make the organization run
  • Political Director — to work directly with the state parties and partner organizations to be a good partner in the progressive movement
  • Staffing Director — to coordinate the staff network and support on-the-ground campaigns

But the truth is, the president isn’t the most important person in our democracy — the citizen is. The institutions will outlast Trump, and if we don’t do the work now of building a pipeline of future leaders, we won’t be able to right his wrongs and move our country forward.

We’re hopeful that the resistance will be strong, that the 2018 and 2020 elections will come around, and when they are, we’ll be ready with young people who are going to run, win, and fight for the values you and I care about.



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Run for Something

Run for Something

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