For other uses, see Candidate (disambiguation).
For Nominee redirects here. For the financial term, see Nominee account, see Candidate (disambiguation).

A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example:

"Nomination" is part of the process of selecting a candidate for either election to an office by a political party,[1] or the bestowing of an honor or award. This person is called a "nominee",[2] though nominee often is used interchangeably with "candidate". Presumptive nominee is a term used when a person or organization believes that the nomination is inevitable or likely. The act of being a candidate in a race for either a party nomination or for electoral office is called a "candidacy".[3] Presumptive candidate may be used to describe someone who is predicted to be a formal candidate.

"Candidate" is a derivative of the Latin "candidus" (shining white).[4] In Ancient Rome, people running for political office would usually wear togas chalked and bleached to be bright white at speeches, debates, conventions, and other public functions.[5]

Candidates in elections

In the context of elections for public office in a representational partisan democracy, a candidate who has been selected by a political party is normally said to be the nominee of that party. The party's selection (that is, the nomination) is typically accomplished either based on one or more primary elections according to the rules of the party and any applicable election laws.[1]

Candidates also may be described as "incumbents", if they are already serving in the office for which they are seeking re-election or "challengers", if they are seeking to unseat an incumbent.

In the context of elections for public office in a direct democracy, a candidate can be nominated by any eligible person—and if parliamentary procedures are used, the nomination has to be seconded, i.e., receive agreement from a second person.

In some non-partisan representative systems (e.g., administrative elections of the Bahá'í Faith), no nominations (or campaigning, electioneering, etc.) take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons in their area, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i.e., among the elected delegates).

Age of candidacy

The age of candidacy refers to the minimum age at which a person can legally qualify to hold certain elected government offices. The United States Constitution sets minimum age requirements, as do state constitutions.

In the United States, a person must be at least thirty-five years of age to be President or Vice President, thirty years of age to be a senator, or twenty-five years of age to be a representative, as specified in the United States Constitution.[6]

Presumptive candidate

The term "presumptive candidate" is sometimes used to describe a person who has not officially become a candidate is considered highly likely to in the future. For example, Jeb Bush has been named a presumptive candidate by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.[7][8]

See also

Look up candidate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Look up nominate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. 1 2 Judicial and Statutory Definitions of Words and Phrases, Volume 1, Edition 2, West Publishing Company, 1914, p. 588 p. 618
  2. "Nominee". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  3. "Candidacy". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  4. "Candidate". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  5. "Candidate". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  6. "Age of Candidacy Law & Legal Definition". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  7. O'Keefe, Ed (March 3, 2015). "Jeb Bush pounces on Hillary Clinton's e-mail woes — but he's not perfect either". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. Reinhard, Beth (May 13, 2015). "Jeb Bush Seeks to Clarify Iraq War Position". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
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