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A note about MoveOn’s Endorsement in the CT-05 Primary Election

MoveOn takes our role in elections and responsibility to members and the progressive movement seriously. Last week MoveOn wrongly endorsed Mary Glassman in the CT-05 primary, and we take responsibility for our error and apologize to MoveOn members in CT-05, Jahana Hayes, her campaign, and her supporters.

About MoveOn Endorsements:

MoveOn believes in a country where everyone can thrive, where there’s a place of honor and dignity for everyone, whether white, Black, or brown, 5th generation or newcomer. We endorse candidates aligned with this vision and who are willing to proudly stand up for an America that works for all of us and not just the wealthy few.

Decisions about MoveOn endorsements are made by a vote of MoveOn members in the state, district, or municipality. In an election with 3 or more candidates, more than 50% of voting MoveOn members must vote to endorse a candidate. In elections with just 2 candidates, more than 66% of voting members must vote to endorse.

However, for this primary, our process broke down, and in the interest of transparency we owe an explanation of what happened.

  • For months leading up to the CT-05 primary, MoveOn members were split in their support between multiple candidates, so we held off endorsing early in this race. In the week leading up to the election however we saw a surge in support for Jahana Hayes among MoveOn members.
  • On the Friday before the election, intending to offer an opportunity for members to make their voices heard, we launched an endorsement vote among members in the congressional district, with the full expectation that Hayes would win the vote.
  • Voting in MoveOn endorsements is limited to current active members who are subscribed to our email list. However the Glassman campaign ignored our clear endorsement rules and shared the ballot vote page with their supporter list.
  • Unfortunately in this instance we failed to catch and filter out such invalid votes, as is our standard practice. This led us to falsely believe that members had voted to endorse Glassman instead of neither candidate reaching the 67% threshold.
  • We deeply regret that this took place. We have now also reviewed all previous candidate endorsement votes this cycle and determined none of the other endorsement vote outcomes were affected by this error.
  • Mindful of the persistent barriers and frequent lack of institutional support for Black women candidates in our politics, movement, and society, we inadvertently became a part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. We are committed to learning from this mistake, increasing safeguards against tabulation errors, and looking more comprehensively at our endorsement process to identify ways in which it can do better live up to our responsibility to serve our members and elevate their collective voices as well as to advance the core progressive value of equity.

Here’s what we’re doing going forward:

  • We’ll be having a vote of members in the district on endorsing Jahana Hayes for the general election, which we expect she’ll win. When she does, we’ll make the maximum $5,000 contribution to her campaign and work our hearts out to help elect her, along with our other 2018 endorsed candidates. Hayes is a former National Teacher of the Year who will be a fierce advocate for public education, she supports Medicare for All, and she has been a vocal advocate for immigrants and against the Trump administration’s family separation and detention policy. She’ll be a fantastic champion and leader in Congress.
  • We are immediately implementing changes to safeguard against future tabulation errors.
  • We are fully debriefing internally to review our endorsement process more broadly and figure out how to better ensure that endorsement vote results accurately reflect the will of MoveOn members in relevant geographies as well as ensure outcomes that advance equity.

We regrettably screwed this up and take this extremely seriously. This has been a year in which we’ve seen brilliant new leadership emerging from progressive Black women, people of color, queer, transgender, and Muslim candidates in elections across the country. Mistakes like the one we made in our CT-05 primary endorsement don’t happen in a vacuum — they can act as yet another barrier that hinder the election of candidates from traditionally marginalized communities whose success is essential to a reflective democracy.

At MoveOn, we’re committed to a more progressive, diverse, reflective, inclusive politics and to improving our processes moving forward, consistent with our values, our responsibility to members, and our responsibility to the progressive movement.

Ilya Sheyman
Executive Director, MoveOn Political Action