About the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide
Fuse is dedicated to a vision of shared and sustainable prosperity, equity, and justice for all people. Our mission is to achieve progress through government by the people and for the people in Washington state. We use our Progressive Voters Guide (PVG) to support candidates and ballot measures that will help us achieve our mission and vision for Washington.
The Fuse communications team begins research on the Progressive Voters Guide at the beginning of each April and we exhaustively research candidates and ballot measures for several months. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of progressive voters and provide them the information they need to make an educated choice based on their values in every race.
Which locations and races do we include?
Unfortunately, our small team cannot research and write recommendations for each of the thousands of candidates who run each year. As such, we take our list and begin to prioritize which races to research based on many factors, including:
The number of voters, progressive voters, and Fuse members in the jurisdiction
If Fuse has a local council there
If it’s a political swing area or has a potentially close race with broader political implications
If Fuse or a partner organization places an especially high priority on a specific candidate
if a candidate identifies as being a member of a historically underrepresented group
What information do we consider for our recommendations?
Once we have a starting point of which races we are likely to cover, we begin researching the candidates and ballot measures. We compile information from many sources, including (but not limited to):
Voters pamphlet statements
Legislative voting records
Fuse staff and local volunteer council interviews
Online and in-person nominations from Fuse members and staff
Candidate policy questionnaires
Partner organization endorsements
Conversations with partners and local stakeholders who have interviewed or worked with a candidate
Public Disclosure Commission filings
How do we make decisions in complicated races?
After we’ve compiled the information above, here are some factors we consider in making our recommendations in crowded or politically complex races. These are roughly listed in order of importance, though sometimes a single factor, like appropriate behavior, can outweigh everything else.
1. Partner endorsements and volunteer council recommendations: We strongly weigh the endorsements of our official partner organizations. In addition, the recommendations of our volunteer and advisory councils in Spokane, Pierce County, Clark County, and south King County play a significant role in our decisions.
2. The best choice in a given race: We do not automatically choose the most progressive candidate in the race. Instead, we weigh all of the information available and use the factors listed here to determine who we think is the best choice for progressive voters in a race.
3. Equity and diversity: We believe representation and diversity are critical for both engaging communities and crafting good public policy. We seek to support candidates who identify as a member of a historically underrepresented group or whose voice is particularly lacking in the office they’re seeking. We give significant weight to improving representation in evaluating races with multiple good, qualified progressives.
4. Experience and track record: We look for candidates with personal or professional experience related to the duties of the office they seek. For incumbents, we heavily weigh their track record in office, including their voting record, sponsorship of legislation, public statements, and level of community engagement. For candidates who have not held elected office, we will look closely at their professional and community leadership roles, a track record of bringing people together to achieve goals, and the depth of their understanding of the community they seek to represent.
5. Prioritization of resources: We try to focus our limited resources as an organization on the most important races where we think we can be a game-changer. Therefore, we usually won’t oppose an established progressive incumbent unless they have a viable challenger and we’re prepared to run a comprehensive campaign.
6. Viability: We will rarely recommend a candidate we deem to have a very low chance of winning when there are multiple progressive choices. Factors we consider in assessing viability include money raised, the strength of a candidate’s campaign infrastructure (i.e. staff and volunteer capacity), perceived local enthusiasm for their candidacy, and the strength of their opponent. However, our orientation is toward providing voters more information whenever possible to help them make their decision, even if we believe a progressive candidate is less viable, including showing their picture and endorsements.
7. Likelihood of effectiveness if elected: We do our best to evaluate how effective someone would be in office based on our assessment of what’s needed for that jurisdiction. We look for candidates with innovative proposals and experience building coalitions, navigating large bureaucracies, creating complex public policy, and communicating their agenda with the public.
8. Diversity of partner support: We give extra weight to candidates who receive the endorsements of partners across different issue areas, i.e. both labor unions and environmental groups.
9. Appropriate behavior and alignment with progressive values: In rare cases, we will oppose a politically progressive candidate if we believe their behavior or values are so abhorrent that we can’t justify putting our name behind them.
Who makes the recommendation decisions?
The Fuse Communications team in consultation with the Campaign Director and the Executive Director make most of the recommendation decisions. The Fuse Board of Directors is consulted on approximately five percent of races that we anticipate will be most controversial.
How can the public weigh-in?
Submit a comment: We prominently feature a Feedback button on the website: https://fusewashington.actionkit.com/survey/pvgcomments/
Nominate a candidate: In 2019, we created a new process for anyone to nominate a candidate for the Progressive Voters Guide, including staff. You can fill out the short form here: https://fusewashington.actionkit.com/survey/2021_PVG_Nomination.