Can a TCDC member publicly support a Democratic candidate who lost their primary?
Now that the 2023 primary season in Tompkins County is over, congratulations are in order for the Democratic candidates. They have shown great commitment to the democratic process, spending weeks reaching out to voters, defining their position on the issues and sharing their ideas about governing.
Primary winners are now considered Democratic nominees. They advance to the next stage—the General Election—with the full support and recognition of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee (TCDC), which comprises members of the town and ward committees.
Over the past few weeks there have been inquiries about TCDC’s role in endorsing candidates. People have asked how they might publicly support a Democratic nominee’s opponent. As TCDC members, we are governed by By-law Article VII, Section 2:
“A member or officer of the County Committee will be removed, upon two-thirds vote of the County Committee for corruption in office, or for publicly supporting the opponent of a duly nominated Democratic candidate for public office after notice and charges to be brought by the Executive Committee to be heard by the full County Committee.”
Carrying out this process would be arduous. It would require a TCDC member to put forth the complaint to the Executive Committee, requiring a meeting to entertain the complaint and whether to bring it to the full TCDC. If they decide to proceed, TCDC would have to meet and vote on whether to remove the member from the Committee. Two-thirds of the TCDC members would have to vote for removal.
“Public support” has been historically recognized as writing letters to the editor, putting one’s name on an advertisement of support, giving a statement to the press, signing letters of support that are intended for publication, and signing or including one’s name in a candidate mailer to voters in the relevant election district. Members are NOT prohibited from telling family, friends or neighbors who they support and why, or from contributing financially to the opponent’s campaign.
From time to time a member has chosen to publicly support an opposition candidate. How was this managed? The member resigned from their town or ward committee and TCDC during the election cycle and submitted a request to be reseated at the completion of the election.
In conclusion, TCDC members are committed to support the duly elected Democratic nominees who won their primary elections. Those wishing to publicly support opponents may temporarily resign from their town or ward committee and TCDC.
As always, your inquiries are welcome!
Linda Hoffmann, Chair
Tompkins County Democratic Committee