You are on page 1of 4

FAQs and Guidelines for the 2020 Presidential Primary

Harvard College Democrats

Hank Sparks, President
Isabel Giovannetti, Vice President
Menat Bahnasy, Campaigns Director
April 22, 2019

What will the Harvard Dems do for the presidential election in 2020?
● The Harvard College Democrats remain neutral in primaries, including in
presidential primaries. Students interested in supporting certain presidential
candidates may participate in campaign subgroups, which are explained below.
Once the primary is over, the Harvard Dems will unite around the nominee and
mobilize for the general election as we have in years past.

What is a campaign subgroup?

● Subgroups are formed to advocate for a specific 2020 primary candidate.
Subgroups operate independently of the Dems and have their own student
leaders from the college, but are approved by the Dems Executive Board before

What did the Dems do in 2016?

● In the fall of 2015, Harvard college students formed Harvard for Hillary and
Harvard for Bernie, which were official subgroups of the Harvard Dems. The
subgroups held weekly events including phonebanks and panels and travelled to
New Hampshire for rallies and canvassing. When Secretary Clinton won the
primary, Harvard for Hillary maintained separate leadership but worked closely
with the Dems Executive Board to mobilize for the general election.

What are the benefits of having a campaign subgroup approved through the Harvard
● Publicize over the Dems-Announce email list. Approved subgroups will be given a
few, but not unlimited, opportunities to publicize their subgroup over our large
email list. Due to the quantity of candidates in 2020, it won’t be possible to give
every group the opportunity to publicize every event. Examples of an approved
use of Dems-Announce might include announcing a subgroup kick-off event, a trip
to New Hampshire, or a visit to Harvard by the candidate.
● Roombook privileges. Leaders of subgroups will be given access to the FAS
Roombook tool to book rooms for campaign subgroup events.
● Ability to request funding. The Harvard Dems work with a political action
committee to fund a limited number of campaign events for subgroups. More
details on funding are included below.

What is the formation process for a subgroup?

● Subgroups cannot be formed instantly, and must instead follow a process to be
formed that takes at least a few weeks.
○ First, students interested in forming a subgroup for a candidate who has
already launched their campaign must reach out to the Harvard Dems
Campaign Director at
○ Next, students interested in forming a subgroup must have an in-person
meeting with the Campaigns Director and any other relevant executive
board members to discuss their proposed subgroup.
○ Next, proposed subgroup leaders spend a few weeks drawing up a
detailed organizing plan. The plan outlines their goals for the subgroup and
how they intend to meet those goals. Example plans are provided at the in-
person meeting and usually are around 3-5 pages.
○ Next, the Campaigns Director reviews the organizing plan. They may spend
up to two weeks working with the proposed subgroup leaders to revise
and edit the plan. If the Campaigns Director is satisfied with the plan and
believes the subgroup would be a positive addition to campus organizing
efforts, they recommend the formation of the subgroup to the Dems
Executive Board. The process cannot move forward without this
○ Finally, the Dems Executive Board meets during their regular hours to
review the plan. The campaigns director presents the subgroup proposal
in-person to the board, and the board can ask the campaigns director any
questions they have about the plan. If the board votes in a majority to
approve the plan, the campaign subgroup is formed. If the campaign
subgroup does not reach the requisite six out of eleven votes, it is not
formed and an appeal process is not possible.
■ In some cases, the Harvard Dems board will have questions about
the organizing plan that the Campaigns Director cannot answer. In
those cases, the vote may be postponed by a week in order to give
the proposed subgroup leaders time to respond to those questions.
■ In all cases, our board seeks to approve only those subgroups that
will garner significant campus attention and turnout at events. In
many cases, the Harvard Dems will ask that the proposed subgroup
hold some sort of event, be it a debate watch party or phonebank, to
test whether it can attract turnout.
■ Dems Executive Board members who plan on being or are already
leaders in a subgroup must recuse themselves from the vote.

How is money distributed and fundraised?

● The Harvard Dems work with a PAC that has a limited amount of money,
especially for the fall of 2019. Funding requests in 2019 must be made in
consultation with the Harvard Dems Secretary, Harvard Dems Treasurer, and
Harvard Dems Campaigns Director. Beginning December 20th, 2019, a new
process will be detailed for funding requests.
● There are two different types of money that will be distributed for campaign
○ Money fundraised by the subgroup. The Dems will offer each subgroup the
opportunity to fundraise money for their subgroup through a political action
committee. Any money fundraised by subgroup leaders must be reported
to the Dems immediately, and that subgroup will be entitled to that money
for use during the 2020 primary. This means that subgroup leaders can
focus on fundraising and organizing while Dems board takes care of
reporting the money to the FEC, filing reports, and managing banking.
○ Money fundraised by our board. In accordance with our constitution,
money fundraised by our board through alumni outreach efforts or other
channels must be distributed equally between approved subgroups. At the
beginning of each FEC filing quarter, the Dems Executive Board will take
note of the number of subgroups and seek to distribute money equally
between the subgroups within that quarter. While we will do everything in
our power to distribute money equally, we cannot guarantee that money
will be distributed equally to the dollar or cent as a practical matter.

Who is the point person on the Dems Executive Board for subgroups?
● The campaigns director, who can be reached at

What is the language in the Harvard College Democrats Constitution about subgroups?
● “After consulting with the Campaigns Director, a member in good standing may
form a campaign subgroup of the Harvard College Democrats if a majority of the
executive board agrees that the following conditions have been met: The purpose
of the subgroup is (i) to advocate for a Democratic candidate in a contested
primary or general election, or (ii) to advocate for an issue or the passage of
legislation. The member in good standing has presented to the Campaigns
Director a plan outlining the group's goals and how it will work to achieve
them.The mission of the group shares the spirit and principles of the Democratic
Party, and can best be carried out through the subgroup model.”

How do I express interest in joining a subgroup?

● You can express your interest here.

How is leadership determined for a subgroup?

● The Dems Executive Board will work with whoever comes to us first to form a
subgroup. However, we will do our best to serve as a convening space and make
sure that anyone we know who is or might be interested in the subgroup is looped
in during the formation process. We expect all subgroups to reflect our democratic
values during the process of choosing leaders. If we hear that is not the case, the
subgroup may be subject to dissolution.

When will subgroups be most active during the academic year?

● Subgroups should host a limited number of events during the fall of 2019 and be
at peak activity level in the spring of 2020.