NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC is following an endorsement strategy this year that bears comment even leaving aside the controversy over its endorsements raised earlier today here in the exchange between District 18 Candidate Natali Fani-Gonzalez and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC.
Most interest groups endorse up to as many candidates as there are seats to be filled. Occasionally, groups will endorse more candidates that there are seats available. For example, the League of Conservation Voters endorsed four candidates for the three House of Delegate seats in District 18.
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC has taken a unique two-tier approach. The PAC endorses up to as many candidates as there are seats up for election. At the same time, they all give a “100% Pro-Choice” rating to other eligible candidates that do no receive the endorsement.
Like the endorsement, candidates are free to tout this 100% Pro-Choice rating in the literature and other communications. I already received a blast email from Jordan Cooper proudly touting his rating in strongly pro-choice District 16.
Is the PAC devaluing NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s endorsement? After all, voters are unlikely to distinguish easily between the endorsement and the 100% Pro-Choice rating. Candidates are less likely to sweat their endorsement process since the consolation prize is such a good one.
While this strategy encourages all candidates to take strong pro-choice positions even if they are unlikely to receive the PAC’s official endorsement, it somewhat weakens the incentive for incumbents to cultivate their support during the legislative session that makes policy.
I suppose it also makes the endorsement process a bit easier as the decision makers know that good candidates who don’t get the endorsement won’t walk away empty handed. We’ll see how it goes and if other organizations follow NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC’s lead.