Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Presidential Primary Endorsement Process

The Idea

During the 2012 election cycle, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund did not exist. Our parent organization, Tea Party Patriots, was heavily involved in the election, but was restricted to discussing issues rather than candidates. In fact, Tea Party Patriots was so limited that legal counsel advised against using the term “Obamacare” in any of our activity to avoid  jeopardizing our 501(c)(4) status that was still in limbo with the IRS. If you’ll remember, Obamacare should have been a big deal in the 2012 Presidential campaign, but the Republican nominee was the former Governor of Massachusetts who implemented a plan in that state that served as the model for Obamacare. Ultimately, we were stuck with a situation where the candidate who should have had repealing Obamacare as the pinnacle issue of his campaign was largely silent on the issue and the nation’s largest Tea Party organization couldn’t even mention it by name.

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, the Tea Party Patriots team consulted with its local coordinators around the country and determined that in order to prevent our hands from being tied behind our backs in the next election that we needed to form Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. They also indicated that they wanted us to endorse candidates. Since then, we have done our best to keep our grassroots integrity by consulting with local coordinators and local supporters in the states and districts with races that we have considered endorsing in.

Over the course of the last year, we have had many internal discussions, as well as many discussions with conservative leaders, local activists and Tea Party leaders around the country about the pros and cons of endorsing in the Republican Presidential Primary. Some of the pros include allowing us to take a leadership position on selecting the potential nominee, rather than be forced to either defend the ultimate nominee or push that nominee to adhere more to our values. Some of the cons include endorsing a candidate who ultimately doesn’t win the nomination, upsetting some of our supporters who have chosen someone who does not get our endorsement, and endorsing a candidate who makes a huge blunder after we’ve issued an endorsement. All of these are notable concerns.

Finally, we asked our supporters what we should do. After being surveyed, our supporters conveyed overwhelmingly that they want us to go down the path to an endorsement.1 An even bigger majority said they would be willing to commit to voting en bloc with other Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund supporters around the country on primary election or caucus day for our eventual endorsee to ensure that he or she has the greatest opportunity to win the Republican nomination.

After much deliberation, and after reviewing the input from grassroots supporters, we are moving forward with our endorsement process. This does not necessarily mean that we definitely will endorse a candidate. This process will simply give us the feedback we need from our supporters and from the individual candidates to be able to make a confident decision on whether or not to endorse and ultimately who that person will be should we decide to issue an endorsement.


The Process

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund will conduct a series of steps in order to gather and comprehend sufficient information to enable the organization to make an endorsement for President of the United States that instills confidence in the process, in the organization, and, most importantly, in our grassroots supporters around the country.

To ensure a fair process, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund will take the following steps with each candidate.

  1. Send a questionnaire to all of the candidates
  2. Do everything in our power to schedule a personal interview between the candidate and the leadership of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. Each candidate interview will consist of a set of generic questions that will be asked of all candidates and a set of very specific questions targeted at individual candidates to learn more about where the candidate stands on our values.
  3. Do everything in our power to schedule a public webinar with each candidate to give our supporters an opportunity to hear directly from the candidate, to have a chance at asking the candidate questions, and to allow the candidate to address our supporters on the issues that matter to us most.
  4. Provide as much information as is publicly available and reasonably accessible to our research team in order for our supporters to see where each candidate stands on the issues that matter to us and the issues that matter in the general election. Our team will do everything possible to provide objective information so that our supporters can see the potentially positive and negative aspects to each candidate in order to come to an educated decision on whom to support.
  5. Perform an online balloting process that will consist of four different ballots.
    1. The first ballot will include the top existing candidates in the race for the Republican nomination (at current count 14).
    2. The second ballot will be reduced to include at least the top half of the candidates from the first ballot (8 at the most) as long as the candidates receive at least 1 vote.
    3. The third ballot will be reduced to include the top 4 candidates from the second ballot.
    4. Finally, the fourth ballot will include the top 2 candidates from the third ballot.
  6. Registration: Anyone can register to participate in the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Primary. Existing supporters will be considered registered by simply being affiliated with Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. However, if your contact information or your email preferences have changed, we encourage you to complete the registration form. Any information in the registration form will update the information associated with you in our database.You must complete the registration in full with valid information in order for your vote to count.
  7. Implement a validation process to ensure the integrity of the votes counted in the balloting process.
    1. Existing supporters of Tea Party Patriots or Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund will be given weighted priority in the voting process. TPP and TPPCF are grassroots organizations that highly regard the input of our supporters. We want to ensure the process is loyal to our current supporters, but we want to allow others who identify with the Tea Party movement to participate in the process as well. This will also protect the process from a campaign or another organization that supports a specific candidate from stuffing the balloting process with enough votes to override the consensus of our existing supporter base.
    2. First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Mailing Address, and Phone Number are required fields in order to register to vote. This information will be used to validate existing supporters based on the information that we have on file. If you are uncertain that your information is correct, please email us at helpdesk@citizensfund.com.


The Result

Once the process has concluded and the results of the consensus of our supporters has been determined, we will ask for supporter feedback once again to determine if we will move forward with an endorsement. We believe this process will truly show the will of our supporter base and give all of us the information we need to objectively select a candidate who we think will best serve as the Republican nominee for President of the United States.