How to Endorse a Candidate for Office

Letters of endorsement, whether published in the newspaper or shared online, are important tools for political action. But a lot of us feel uncomfortable writing them. My husband, Steve Peha, developed a tool to make this kind of writing: The What-Why-How™ Strategy.

This is a picture of the What-Why-How Strategy developed by Steve Peha on The Word Factory Blog

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Planning an Endorsement

Always start in the WHAT column: what you think or the most important thing your reader should know. Then work across to the WHY and HOW. Your WHAT should be a complete sentence, but the rest of the strategy can be completed with phrases or placeholders. Here's an example:

This is an example of the pre-write for a candidate endorsement letter

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Writing an Endorsement Letter for a Political Candidate

The easiest place to start is with your WHAT. Putting your opinion or recommendation right up top makes it clear -- and gets the message across if people don't have time to read the whole thing. For longer pieces -- say an opinion essay or a Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram post, each WHY/HOW or HOW could to be its own paragraph.

Then work from each WHY to its HOWs. For short pieces, like letter to the editor, each row is probably going to have to be a sentence or two.

Pro Tip: Get everything down in the order you have it on your sheet, then go back through and shift the organization if necessary so your recommendation starts strong and leads to a logical conclusion and call to action.

Here's an example:

It’s vital that we vote our values, so I’ll be voting for Barbara Middleton Foushee for alderman this Fall. Barbara is an effective advocate for social justice, voting rights, acceptance, economic opportunity and gender and racial equity. She also devotes a significant amount of time and effort working in the community through the First Baptist Church’s Community Awareness and Political Action Ministry, and as a mentor for K-12 and college students. Her experience on several town and county committees, including the OWASA and Carrboro Human Services boards, means she understands how local government works – and doesn’t . She can hit the ground running on day one of her term. I especially appreciate Barbara’s thoughtful leadership. She seeks out new ideas and different perspectives, weighs the alternatives, considers possible outcomes and develops reasonable positions. She’s approachable and engaged, and genuinely committed to governing well. Please join me in voting for Barbara Foushee for Alderman.

Now that you've got the strategy, start writing. Your personal reasons for supporting a candidate for office will resonate with other people in your sphere of influence and beyond. But only if you share your views.

Bonus: The What-Why-How is also a great tool for writing an introduction for a candidate, or for crafting a candidate statement to use on the web or at forums and other events.

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