Nithya Raman for Los Angeles CD-4

Chapter Endorsement Process Timeline

  • Saturday, December 1st: members can begin submitting personal statements in favor or in opposition to the endorsement, as well as suggested amendments to the proposal
  • Sunday, December 8th: Second 1-hour debate preceding local officer candidate forum

  • Sunday, December 8th: Ballot drops as part of local officer elections

  • Sunday, December 15th: Voting period closes

  • Monday, December 16th: Results are announced

Click here to see a video of a Q & A session with the candidate.

Click here to to submit a personal statement in favor, in opposition, or an amendment to the proposal.

Click here to read statements for and against this proposal.

Click here to view the final hour-long member debate considering the chapter's endorsement of the candidate.

Below is the proposal submitted by the Electoral Politics Committee to the chapter for approval. 

Introduction

California’s primary election will be held on March 3rd, 2020. In addition to voting for a presidential candidate, Angelenos will have the opportunity to vote for their representatives on the Los Angeles City Council. Council District 4 is one of the districts with an election this cycle. The seat is currently held by Councilmember David Ryu, and there are currently 4 candidates declared to run against him.

Council District 4 is home to a significant number of DSA-LA members, estimated at 653 members in good standing. A victory in Council District 4 can raise DSA-LA’s profile in Los Angeles and boost the morale of its members. 

Map of Council District 4

DSA-LA analysis of Council District 4

LA Times infographic on Sanders vs Clinton primary results

Why We Recommend Nithya Raman for Endorsement

As a candidate, Nithya has a deep history of political activism that aligns very closely with the values of DSA-LA. Between her work advocating for the urban poor in Chennai and her work helping to build the homeless advocacy group SELAH here in LA, she has first hand experience working on exactly the kinds of issues that our organization has historically prioritized. And in this campaign, she has been vocal about her support for a Green New Deal for Los Angeles, which would combine expanded public transit, improved services for the unhoused, stronger tenant protections, and reduced focus in the city budget for the LAPD.

As for the race itself, Nithya is challenging the incumbent David Ryu, who can safely be described by the Left as “an establishment Democrat.” Much as he likes to describe himself as a progressive figure, he has in the past voted in favor of measures that would lead to the effective criminalization of homelessness and voted against measures that would improve sustainable transit infrastructure, such as bike lanes. There are other challengers in the race, but due to the jungle primary system, we can safely focus on simply coming in second place on March 3rd, which is a realistic and attainable goal. And due to the success of Bernie Sanders in many CD4 voting precincts in 2016, the majority of residents being renters rather than homeowners, and the high concentration of DSA members, the district is geographically very favorable to Nithya’s candidacy and potential DSA-aligned candidates in general.

High-Level Proposal

There are two ways in which DSA-LA can structure its support for Nithya Raman: a coordinated campaign or an independent expenditure campaign. It is the view of the Electoral Politics committee that a coordinated campaign is our best option. This is for the following reasons:

  • Much of our existing electoral bandwidth is being utilized for the Bernie 2020 Working Group. 
  • With only 3 months to go until the primary election, we need all the time we can to mobilize for Nithya. An independent expenditure campaign will likely take at a minimum a month to establish, leaving us with only two months to conduct voter outreach
  • A coordinated campaign will allow us to build a closer relationship with Nithya, which we can continue to strengthen if she is elected

With all that being said, we must abide by legal and compliance rules. At the time of this proposal submission, the Electoral Politics committee is still in discussion with DSA National’s compliance team and election lawyers to determine the best course of action with regards to a coordinated vs independent expenditure decision. As such, we have provided plans for both a coordinated campaign (referred to as “Coordinated Campaign”) and an independent expenditure campaign (referred to as “Campaign Working Group”), such that members can understand what both options would look like and to provide opportunity to comment on both potential situations. 

In the event membership votes to approve this proposal, be it resolved that:

DSA-LA’s Nithya 2020 campaign will structure itself as a coordinated campaign if allowed by compliance rules

  • In the event compliance rules do not allow for a coordinated campaign, DSA-LA’s Nithya 2020 campaign will structure as an independent expenditure campaign 

Coordinated Campaign Proposal

Be it resolved that:

  • DSA-LA endorses Nithya Raman for LA City Council District 4
  • DSA-LA will establish a Nithya 2020 Coordinated Campaign as described below
  • The Nithya 2020 Coordinated Campaign will be guided by the strategy as described below
  • DSA-LA will provide the requested resources as described below

Coordinated Campaign Composition

The Nithya 2020 Coordinated Campaign will be incorporated as a coordinated campaign. It will be composed of members defined as members in good standing who have attended a Coordinated Campaign meeting or event. The Electoral Politics Committee will handle initial administrative tasks (e.g. planning/facilitating initial meeting) until the Coordinated Campaign leadership team is established. The Coordinated Campaign leadership team will consist of two (2) Co-Chairs who are tasked with facilitating the implementation of Coordinated Campaign strategy and coordinating with Steering. The Co-Chairs have reasonable autonomy to create new positions for the leadership team or remove positions as needed. Co-Chairs will be elected by the Coordinated Campaign membership. Ballot distribution and tallying for the Co-Chairs election will be conducted by Steering. Once elected, Co-Chairs will then appoint all other positions as needed. 

While the co-chairs have autonomy to create new positions or remove position as needed, we suggest that the leadership team be composed of the following positions:

It will have a leadership team composed of the following positions:

Note: some of these positions may be removed or responsibilities adjusted depending on legal and compliance rules

  • Co-Chair (2): Facilitates implementation of Coordinated Campaign strategy, coordinates with Steering, and coordinates with Nithya campaign. Shall have reasonable autonomy to create new positions or remove positions as needed
  • Canvass Mobilizers (3-5): Mobilizes members to attend Nithya’s canvasses and phone banks
  • Compliance Coordinator: Ensures Coordinated Campaign is tracking expenses and staying in compliance with city and state laws. Reviews all of the Coordinated Campaign’s planned events and actions to ensure they are in compliance
  • Communications Coordinator: Writes copy for emails and social media outreach, maintains flow of information with Communications Committee
  • Internal Outreach Coordinator: Plans events with or coordinates down-ballot support from other committees in DSA-LA
  • External Outreach Coordinator: Conducts outreach to allied organizations in CD4 to plan events

The Electoral Politics Committee will handle initial administrative tasks (e.g. planning/facilitating initial meeting) until the Coordinated Campaign leadership team is established. Co-Chairs will elected by the Campaign Working Group membership. Ballot distribution and tallying for the Co-Chairs election will be conducted by Steering. Once elected, Co-Chairs will then appoint all other positions. 

Coordinated Campaign Strategy

The Coordinated Campaign will focus on augmenting and supporting Nithya’s existing field efforts by mobilizing members to attend Nithya’s canvasses and phone banks. It will utilize Nithya’s campaign literature and messaging at these voter outreach events.

Additionally, the members of the Coordinated Campaign will a) work to contact all DSA-LA members in Council District 4 and ensure that they are registered to vote; b) organize DSA-LA members in CD-4 to commit to vote for Nithya in the primary election; and c) will GOTV DSA-LA members in Council District 4. This will deepen the internal relationships within DSA-LA, and further develop our organization's ability to mobilize our own membership in an election.

To the extent that it is allowed by compliance rules, the Coordinated Campaign will seek to plan events in partnership with other committees in DSA-LA that raise awareness of Nithya and her platform. It will also utilize chapter media infrastructure to highlight Nithya’s campaign. 

As a chapter, we voted to prioritize the Green New Deal and DSA for Bernie. As our campaigns are still ramping up, it would be a mistake to launch a new campaign that is not complementary to our chapter resolutions. Any canvassing for Nithya should happen in concert with canvassing for Bernie and the Green New Deal, so as not to draw resources away from these campaigns - as long as such compliance is allowed by compliance rules.

Requested Chapter Resources for Coordinated Campaign 

Note: some of these requests may be removed depending on legal and compliance rules

  • A dedicated webpage on the dsa-la.org website for Nithya 2020 news, updates, and resources
  • Provide Nithya 2020 materials at all general Chapter events, especially events focused on recruitment and outreach
  • Inclusion on DSA-LA’s chapter media outreach (e.g. social media)
  • Limited chapter treasury funds for canvassing supplies and other campaign-related expenses
  • Inclusion in chapter-wide outreach via email and text to mobilize membership for Coordinated Campaign events

Independent Expenditure Campaign Proposal

Be it resolved that:

  • DSA-LA endorses Nithya Raman for LA City Council District 4
  • DSA-LA will establish a Nithya 2020 Campaign Working Group as described below
  • The Nithya 2020 Campaign Working Group will be guided by the strategy as described below
  • DSA-LA will provide the requested resources as described below

Campaign Working Group Composition

The Nithya 2020 Campaign Working Group will be incorporated as an independent expenditure campaign. It will be composed of members defined as members in good standing who have attended a Campaign Working Group meeting or event. The Electoral Politics Committee will handle initial administrative tasks (e.g. planning/facilitating initial meeting) until the Campaign Work Group leadership team is established. The Campaign Working Group leadership team will consist of two (2) Co-Chairs who are tasked with facilitating the implementation of Campaign Working Group strategy and coordinating with Steering. The Co-Chairs have reasonable autonomy to create new positions for the leadership team or remove positions as needed. Co-Chairs will be elected by the Campaign Working Group membership. Ballot distribution and tallying for the Co-Chairs election will be conducted by Steering. Once elected, Co-Chairs will then appoint all other positions as needed. 

While the co-chairs have autonomy to create new positions or remove position as needed, we suggest that the leadership team be composed of the following positions:

It will have a leadership team composed of the following positions:

  • Co-Chair (2): Facilitates implementation of Campaign Working Group strategy, coordinates with Steering. Shall have reasonable autonomy to create new positions or remove positions as needed
  • Canvass Lead (3-5): Plans weekly canvasses and phone banks, launches canvasses
  • Canvass Mobilizers (3): Mobilizes members to attend canvasses and phone banks
  • Data Coordinator: Administers voter data system, manages data collection/entry, and distributes walk and call lists to field and mobilizer teams
  • Compliance Coordinator: Ensures Campaign Working Group is tracking expenses and staying in compliance with city and state laws
  • Communications Coordinator: Writes copy for emails, press releases, and social media outreach, maintains flow of information with Communications Committee
  • Internal Outreach Coordinator: Plans joint canvasses with or coordinates down-ballot support from other committees in DSA-LA. Works with External Outreach Coordinator to coordinate campaign-linked social events, such as happy hours and cafe meetups
  • External Outreach Coordinator: Conducts outreach to allied organizations in CD4 to plan joint canvasses. Works with Internal Outreach Coordinator to coordinate campaign-linked social events, such as happy hours and cafe meetups

The Electoral Politics Committee will handle initial administrative tasks (e.g. planning/facilitating initial meeting) until the Campaign Work Group leadership team is established. Co-Chairs will elected by the Campaign Working Group membership. Ballot distribution and tallying for the Co-Chairs election will be conducted by Steering. Once elected, Co-Chairs will then appoint all other positions. 

The co-chairs have the mandate to switch the campaign from an independent expenditure to coordinated campaign if required for legal or other reasons. 

Campaign Working Group Strategy

The Campaign Working Group will attempt to hold canvasses each weekend in January and February in the lead up to the March 3rd Primary, with the final four days of the cycle focused on GOTV efforts. It will seek to establish 3 canvass locations within CD4 for each weekend. It will also hold regular phone banks for the purpose of voter outreach and member mobilization. The campaign will also create content for social media outreach.

The Campaign Working Group will seek to partner with other committees and working groups in DSA-LA, either through joint canvasses in which both committee work and Nithya are prioritized, or by requesting that Campaign Working Group literature simply be distributed as part of the other committees’ work. 

Finally, the Campaign Working Group will attempt to plan joint canvases with community organizations in CD4 to both mobilize voters for Nithya, but to also build awareness of DSA-LA in CD4 and to establish relationships with allied organizations.

Should Nithya move on to the general election, the Campaign Working Group will take a three month break from field work following the primary election. It will use this time to analyze canvass and election data and run an analysis on the Campaign Working Group’s successes and failures in the primary cycle. It will deliver a report to its membership and the broader chapter on lessons learned and recommendations on how it should operate going into the general cycle.

As a chapter, we voted to prioritize the Green New Deal and DSA for Bernie. As our campaigns are still ramping up, it would be a mistake to launch a new campaign that is not complementary to our chapter resolutions. Any canvassing for Nithya should happen in concert with canvassing for Bernie and the Green New Deal, so as not to draw resources away from these campaigns - as long as such compliance is allowed by compliance rules.

Requested Chapter Resources for Campaign Working Group

If created, the Nithya 2020 Campaign Working Group will request the following resources from the chapter:

  • A dedicated webpage on the dsa-la.org website for Nithya 2020 news, updates, and resources including a Campaign Kit which would allow individuals to self-organize
  • Videos and other campaign materials for the Nithya 2020 campaign
  • Provide materials related to Nithya 2020 at all general Chapter events, especially events focused on recruitment and outreach
  • Inclusion on DSA-LA’s chapter media outreach (e.g. social media)
  • Printing funds for flyers, banners, and other campaign materials
  • Translation of all materials to Spanish, at the minimum
  • Chapter treasury funds for canvassing materials, renting community spaces, and other campaign-related expenses
  • Access to Bernie Working Group VAN database
  • Inclusion in chapter-wide outreach via email and text to mobilize membership for Campaign Working Group events