CVNM & CVNM Action Fund Statewide Office Endorsement Policy
The goal of CVNM & CVNM Action Fund’s endorsement process is to use the power of endorsements and political action to implement and reinforce our cycle of accountability to build the strongest possible conservation policy outcomes at the state level. To achieve this goal, we strive to ensure that our endorsement process is methodical, predictable, and based on consistent data and objective criteria.
Evaluating candidates for statewide office is a much more nuanced process than for legislative seats because ultimately their conservation performance in office will be determined not by votes, but by many large and small decisions about how to organize and emphasize different facets of their executive branch. For this reason we tend to begin our review process earlier for executive and statewide offices, compared to our legislative endorsements.
Incumbency is important when it comes to statewide races. Because our interest is primarily in securing favorable policy outcomes, an incumbent will need to be particularly inaccessible and poor on our suite of issues in order to warrant a challenge. For this reason we tend to prioritize open seats for involvement because we see it as an opportunity to help elect people who will be outstanding on our issues.
While we will endorse in primaries, it is not an automatic decision. Our goal is to identify the candidate that represents the best opportunity to enact pro-conservation policy, if there is one. This does not mean that we’ll endorse the “least bad” option in every statewide primary. It also means that we may not endorse if there are multiple viable candidates that represent approximately equal odds of enacting pro-conservation policy.
Not all statewide offices are equal when it comes to conservation policy. We’re more likely to look closely at candidates for Governor and State Land Commissioner, although we have endorsed for Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer, and may continue to do so going forward. We’re also limited by our own internal capacity. Endorsing in multiple statewide races may be preclusive of doing meaningful work in the most important ones.
CVNM considers the following factors (listed in no particular order of importance) in determining who, and whether, to endorse in statewide contests:
- Inclusion of CVNM’s values in platform, emphasizing the protection of the health of New Mexicans by safeguarding our land, our air, and water; and support for the development of a strong and clean economy
- Environmental and justice record and history of relevant work history and accomplishments
- Responses to CVNM candidate review questionnaire
- Demonstrated Inclusion of CVNM’s core issues in campaign speeches/stump speeches, materials and platform
- Campaign viability
- Performance in interviews with CVNM
- Past comments and positions
- Expertise and facility with technical aspects of CVNM policy concerns in New Mexico
Not all factors are equal in this evaluation. Because of the importance of these offices, viability becomes a larger factor in the consideration of candidates. CVNM engages in elections in order to secure policy outcomes. This means that a candidate who might be stronger on environmental issues, but is unlikely to win would not represent the best choice for endorsement. Ideally, the most viable candidate is also the one who is strongest on our issues, but it is commonly a matter of degrees. In practice, these factors will tend to result in CVNM Action Fund endorsing the candidate that is strongest on our issues while also being in the top tier of viability.
The endorsement process begins when you receive the questionnaire. As a general rule, we try to give candidates 1 day per question on the questionnaire. As an example, if you receive a 15 question questionnaire you can anticipate having roughly two weeks to complete it. This rule is subject to change based on CVNM’s requirements. After your questionnaire has been returned you may be contacted for a follow up interview by CVNM staff and/or board members either in person or via phone. Following our review and evaluation period, staff will submit endorsement recommendations to the political committee of the board, who will then evaluate and submit those recommendations (potentially with changes) to the CVNM board for discussion and approval.
Candidates are notified of endorsement following board approval. The endorsement is officially issued by the CVNM Action Fund Political Action Committee.