CVNM & CVNM Action Fund Endorsement ProcessGoal
The goal of CVNM/CVNM Action Fund's endorsement process is to use the power of endorsements and political activities to implement and reinforce the cycle of accountability to build the strongest possible conservation representation at the state and local levels. To achieve this purpose, our endorsement process is both methodical and predictable and based on consistent data and objective criteria.
CVNM recognizes that the endorsement process is an opportunity to educate voters, elected officials and candidates about the conservation issues that affect New Mexico. The endorsement represents an expectation that the candidate will work to advocate for and vote on behalf of the conservation and protection of our air, land, water, wildlife, and quality of life.
Our endorsement philosophy is based on the fact that incumbent elected officials determine through their conservation records whether and how CVNM/CVNM Action Fund will engage in their electoral races. The performance of incumbents is evaluated through the lens of the district or population they represent, and endorsement decisions are based on ensuring that each district or population is represented by the strongest possible conservation officials. Only if incumbents have demonstrated that they are out-of-step with the conservation values of their constituents will CVNM/CVNM Action Fund evaluate potential challengers. In open seats, all candidates are evaluated based on any record they have on conservation issues, their stance on critical environmental issues and the viability of their campaign.
Endorsement decisions by the Board of Directors are based on incumbents' conservation records, information submitted by candidates in their CVNM questionnaires, as well as through interviews conducted by staff and the Board.
Note that incumbents include any elected official who has served at least one full term. Appointees to vacant seats may be considered incumbents, if there is sufficient information to evaluate their conservation record. If appointees have not served a full term, and there is insufficient data to evaluate their record, the seat may be considered open.
Incumbents will be evaluated by CVNM staff and Board and assigned to one of four categories, based on rigorous and detailed internal guidelines:
- Conservation Champion
- Conservation Ally
- Persuadable on Conservation Issues
- Not Persuadable on Conservation Issues
Districts or populations will be assessed to determine the highest category of pro-conservation officials they can support, using the same general categories as for incumbents. These assessments will be based on any available metrics, including constituents' past or present support of pro-conservation officials in other offices municipal, county, state legislative, Public Regulation Commission and/or statewide.
Incumbents and their constituents will be compared to determine the degree of separation (if any) between what the district or population can support conservation-wise, and the record of the incumbent.
It is generally CVNM/CVNM Action Fund's policy not to endorse in races where a candidate or incumbent is running unopposed, because it dilutes the value and power of our endorsement. However, CVNM/CVNM Action Fund may make very limited exceptions in cases where a proven champion actively solicits our endorsement and provides a compelling reason to endorse.
In cases where the incumbent falls at least two tiers below their constituency in their conservation positions, CVNM/CVNM Action Fund reserve the right to actively recruit and support a pro-conservation challenger for the next election cycle.
Consideration of Challengers:
There are two areas of consideration when evaluating challengers to poorly-performing incumbents, each of which includes some higher-priority criteria (indicated by two asterisks):
Viability of Challenger:
- Does the campaign have a comprehensive written campaign plan? **
- Does the campaign have a realistic budget target? **
- Does the campaign have staff/dedicated volunteers with proven campaign experience? **
- How much effort is the candidate willing to dedicate to the campaign? **
- Is the campaign on track to meeting the budget target, or does it have a realistic plan for achieving it?
- Has the candidate received other endorsements?
- Other potential factors: poll results, strength of challenger in previous races, etc.
- How pro-conservation is the challenger, as reflected by their submitted questionnaire? **
- Does the candidate have a positive record on, or experiences with, conservation issues particularly as a decision-maker? **
- Are there any known or proven inconsistencies in the candidate's questionnaire response or prior bad acts? **
- Has the campaign incorporated an environmental platform or positions into the campaign message and materials?
Additional criteria may also be considered.
Open seats-- that is when an existing elected official retires or is no longer able to serve-- are a high priority for a rigorous endorsement process. They often represent the best opportunity for converting anti-conservation seats, and they are a high-priority for protecting our pro-conservation representation where the departing incumbent was a champion or ally.
Where a candidate for an open seat is unopposed, no endorsement will be offered, although a questionnaire may be solicited and a follow-up meeting may be pursued.
Questionnaires are a critical component of CVNM/CVNM Action Fund's endorsement process. They will be distributed to the following candidates:
- Candidates in open seats
- Incumbents who haven't served a full term and for whom we have an insufficient record
- Challengers to poorly-performing incumbents
- Under-performing incumbents who have challengers.
CVNM/CVNM Action Fund recognize the value of personal interviews with candidates in establishing relationships, evaluating substance and viability, and setting expectations for both the candidate and CVNM/CVNM Action Fund.
The need for interviews will be prioritized based on available time and resources, as well as the level of effort CVNM/CVNM Action Fund expects to expend on each race. Where possible, staff and Board members will conduct face-to-face interviews with candidates. We will not endorse a candidate unless at least one staff member or Board member has met the candidate in person.