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Politics

Primary Election 2024: What is the Central Committee and why can't I find information about it?

This election season, we’ve gotten a lot of questions from viewers about the Central Committee contests on their ballots. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen explains.

On the March 5 presidential primary ballot, after the presidential candidates, there’s another party-nominated office on some voters' ballots.

It’s the County Central Committee, and depending on your party affiliation, you can vote up to six or nine candidates.

Like the presidential election, the Central Committee election is every four years. It’s a little-known office. That's why voters like Callum Arras submitted this question to the KPBS Voter Hub.

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“I want to be informed of my local candidates, specifically for County Central Committee … I’d also like to see a definition of the roles/responsibilities.”
— Callum Arras, San Diego County voter

To answer Arras' question, we went directly to the local Democratic and Republican party chairs.

“First thing we (the Central Committee) do is we endorse our Democrats, and then we also vote on the budget, and we also support the Democrats,” said Becca Taylor, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

She said Central Committee members also help set the party's platform.

“And in between election cycles, we work to recruit people to run for office and build up their skills and get involved in the community,” Taylor said.

For the Republican party, the duties are similar, but the party also has different jobs for each person on the committee, said Republican Party of San Diego County Chair Paula Whitsell.

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"Such as precinct ops, candidate recruitment, communications," she said. "So each one is assigned a job to do, and that's how they contribute to the party as well.”

She said people elected to the Central Committee can also be selected for leadership positions in the local chapter.

Another difference is that the Republican Party’s Central Committee districts are based on the county supervisor districts instead of the state’s assembly districts, like the Democratic Party's. And Republican Party members can choose up to nine candidates, while Democrats choose six.

Why can't voters find information about Central Committee candidates?

"Even though it's the No. 1 question we've gotten — 'Who to support?' It's a conflict of interest if we were to tell voters (who to voter for)," Taylor said.

Whitsell said it's up to each candidate to reach out to party members to make their case to get elected to the Central Committee.

"So every person that's running on the central committee, they're in charge of running their own campaign," she said. "So I know people are doing postcards, they're doing social media, they're going to different groups and explaining, I'm running for Central Committee, and this is why you should vote for me."

Both Taylor and Whitsell are also running for Central Committee in their respective districts.

Why should you care about the Central Committee?

"(Central Committee members) also volunteer to help get our Democrats elected," Taylor said. "Some of that might involve talking to voters, knocking on doors, texting, phone banking. Maybe they're helping fundraise so that we could pay for those mailers or the things that we're leaving at the door so people know who to vote for."

Whitsell said it's also good for the Republican grassroots movement.

"How the grassroots participate is by voting in their Central Committee people, because they are the closest communication to just everyday Republicans," she said.

I see candidates from another office are also running for Central Committee. What's going on?

Anyone can run for Central Committee. The only requirement is that they be party members.

"That doesn't really change the impact of how the Central Committee is run because when, for example, (during) endorsement votes, they have one vote and they continue to have one vote, that doesn't change that dynamic," Whitsell said. "They still have 48 people they have to convince that they should be the endorsed candidate."

"We often have electeds (who) also run for Central Committee. And ... basically, it works," Taylor said.

Editor's note: Links for candidates may go to public social media profiles, current or previous campaign websites for other positions candidates may have or are vying for, or professional bios for currently held jobs or political offices. Some candidates do not have any information available online.

Democratic candidates

Republican cadidates


If you have any questions about the ballot, like this one, drop us a line at kpbs.org/voterhub, and we’ll try to answer them for you.

The 2024 primary election is March 5. Find in-depth reporting on each race to help you understand what's on your ballot.