Run For Something (RFS) was incorporated in Washington, DC in December 2016—about a month after Republican Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election—and formally began its activities on January 20, 2017, the day of Trump’s inauguration. RFS includes both a “Section 527” component under the IRS tax code which regulates nonprofit organizations, and a “501(c)(4)” component. The former, which receives the bulk of RFS’s financial resources, is responsible for setting up state-affiliated political action committees through which RFS gives direct support to candidates. The latter uses its funds for such activities as “list-building, organization building, and staffing — building a progressive network of staff and young people who want to get engaged in politics.”
RFS’s mission is to “recruit and support talented, passionate young people who will advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years,” and who are willing to run in “down-ballot races” for offices like state legislatures, mayorships, and city council seats. “These races,” notes RFS, “are often the entry-point for careers as public servants. Nearly half of all governors in 2014 got their start as members of a state legislature.” At its inception, RFS’s initial short-term goal was to recruit “five strong candidates” to run in Virginia and possibly North Carolina.
RFS seeks to recruit only people younger than 35 who self-identify as Democrats and “progressives.” Specifically, the organization looks for candidates who will be:
Moreover, RFS seeks out young people who are “diverse,” meaning “women and members of underrepresented communities” such as “LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.” “Our candidates will be at least half women,” says RFS, “as well as men of color.”
RFS also tries to find potential candidates who are well “connected,” meaning that they have a large number of connections on social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as numerous local contacts in their cell phones.
In an effort to find and identify highly qualified young people, RFS employs a variety of strategies. These include:
Once RFS has identified certain young people as viable candidates worthy of its assistance, the group helps them with such tasks as fundraising, organization building, staff hiring, and “press and social media amplification.” It also sets up mentorship connections for these young candidates, and puts them in touch with training organizations like Wellstone.org, EMILY’s List, the Latino Victory Project, She Should Run, Emerge America, and Higher Heights.
One of RFS’s co-founders is Amanda Litman, who served as an email writer for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, deputy email director at Organizing for Action, digital director for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Florida, and email director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The organization’s other co-founder is Ross Morales Rocketto, described by RFS as a “progressive political operative” who worked for Julian Castro‘s 2005 mayoral campaign in San Antonio, and Bill Richardson‘s presidential campaign in 2007.
RFS’s Board of Advisers includes individuals affiliated with an array of leftist groups and causes, such as the Latino Victory Fund, the For Our Future Fund, Organizing For Action, Be Bold Media, Keith Ellison For DNC Chair, EMILY’s List, Precision Strategies, and the Democratic National Committee. Some RFS board members also worked for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama (2008 & 2012) and Hillary Clinton (2016).
Further Reading: “More Than 1,000 Progressives Signed Up To Run For Office Over The Weekend” (Huffington Post, 1-30-2017); “Who We Endorse, Why We Endorse Them, and What It All Means” (Medium.com); “A Strategic Plan” (Medium.com); “What We Actually Do for Candidates” (Medium.com).