Chair Patrick Maguire


Guidance For Democratic Candidates In Washington County

As the Washington County Democrats, we are a group of volunteers that work together to see our shared values enacted into law by electing Democratic candidates at the local, state, and federal levels.  Most of our efforts as a county are focused on local elections (city, county, school board, etc.) and targeted state legislative seats.  What kind of help we can offer candidates and campaigns depends on what sort of office you are running for!

VoteBuilder Access:

VoteBuilder, also referred to as VAN and the Voter File, is a very useful digital tool developed by the national Democratic Party which combines the public record of every registered voter with information about their political leanings.  It can be used to create walklists to canvass voters, as well as mail, email, phone, and text communications. This lets your campaign reach more of the people you need in order to win. There is a fee to use this tool, which ranges between $250 and $500 depending on the type of election, but it is always much less than the market value of such a database.

Legislative and Metro Council candidates must apply directly to the state party for a VoteBuilder account. County, city, and local board candidates should fill out the application on our website and email it to the county party. Any candidate who is a registered Democrat in good standing will then be granted access by a vote of our Executive Board.  After approval, candidates will be referred to the state party to make payment, get their account set up, and receive any needed training.

Endorsements Process:

In partisan primary elections, such as the Democratic primary for state legislative seats, we do not officially take a position.  We let the Democratic voters decide who the nominee will be, then come together behind that nominee in the general election.  If you are running in a partisan primary, we welcome you to attend our meetings and introduce yourself and recruit volunteers, but we don’t directly endorse anyone.

In nonpartisan primary elections, such as those for city councillor, school board member, or county commissioner, the current party practice is to endorse one Democratic candidate.  A five-person endorsement recommendation committee is established and tries to reach out to registered Democrats who have filed to run in those races to invite them to interview.  To be sure that you are invited to interview, I would encourage you to be proactive in reaching out to the recommendation committee.  Contact them by January before a May nonpartisan election, or by July for a November nonpartisan election.

The endorsement recommendation committee will make a recommendation to the full Central Committee membership, which usually has an attendance of around 100-200.  All Democratic candidates will be invited to attend and speak to the Central Committee, after which a vote is taken to approve the endorsement recommendations.  If that passes, then those candidates are endorsed by the party.

Party Office in Hillsboro:

Our party maintains an office in Hillsboro.  It can be used for occasional rallies or events by candidates who are either the party’s nominee or the party’s endorsed candidate.  Contact our office committee chair to request such use of the office.

Neighborhood Leader Program:

Our biggest way of supporting candidates is our neighborhood leader program.  Hundreds of party members across the county volunteer to contact 20-30 Democratic voters in their neighborhood.  They contact the same voters before every election, so they build relationships.  This increases turnout and gets the names of our party nominees and endorsed candidates out in the community.  To make sure you are listed on the slate cards that neighborhood leaders distribute, please stay in close contact with our campaign team in the months leading up to the election.

Communications and Social Media Promotion:

Once a candidate has been endorsed, our communications volunteers work very hard to promote their campaign. They will invite candidates to provide information about themselves and their events. That information will be used to create content for a webpage about our endorsed candidates, as well as social media posts on our party pages. If the candidate is willing, we will also write an interview with the candidate to be distributed via our newsletter, website and social media. Candidates are also always welcome to share any of the content and assets we create on their behalf.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time,

Patrick Maguire
Chair, Washington County Democrats