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Could Public Funding of Congressional Candidates Help Independent/Third Party Candidates?

The following story at Ballot Access News describes a bill that is expected to be introduced within the week, and reflects on the possible impact for independent and third party candidates.

from Ballot Access News
Public Funding of Congressional Candidates
March 24th, 2009

A bill will be introduced in Congress within a week to provide for public funding for candidates for Congress, according to this Washington Post story of March 23. The sponsors will be Senators Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) in the Senate, and John B. Larson (D-Connecticut) in the House.

The article does not say if the bill will disregard the partisan affiliation of candidates or not. The Clean Elections laws in Maine and Arizona do not discriminate for or against candidates based on the partisan affiliation of those candidates. But past bills for public funding in Congress have had separate rules, depending on whether the candidate is a Democrat or Republican, on the one hand, or an independent or a minor party member. [emphasis added] The bill will provide public funding for U.S. House candidates who raise at least $50,000 from at least 1,500 residents of their own district.

16 Comments

  1. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder Post author | March 24, 2009

    I tried to present the question in a very objective way, about will this bill help third party and independent candidates.

    But, it is clear, that if the criteria set is that you have to raise $50,000 from at least 1,500 district residents to receive the financing, already, that cuts most small parties and first time candidates out of the picture.

    I have run for office several times before. The most I ever raised for myself as a candidate was about $3,000. And, that was a result of the holy cause of the lawsuit I filed to stay on the ballot. (And, I lost.)

  2. paulie paulie March 24, 2009

    Sounds more like it would hurt them.

  3. Trent Hill Trent Hill March 24, 2009

    I agree with Paulie. Third Partiers mostly wont be able to get this, while major parties ALWAYS will.

  4. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder Post author | March 24, 2009

    Yup. I think you guys are right.

    But “public campaign financing” is a perfect example of an issue that the Democrats and duopoly have co-opted from the left, and distorted to harm the left.

    So, what should be a good thing, turns into poison, by making unequal rules for major parties vs. alternative parties.

    I posted this partly to help rile the troops. If this bill is passed with the wrong criteria, it could truly squash any hope of a third party/independent win – or even run- for congress.

  5. Elliott Kay Elliott Kay March 24, 2009

    Am I misunderstanding the bill, or are these people looking to use taxpayer funds to run for congress?

    I don’t want to pay for the campaigns of any Democrat or Republican candidate, and I even want to have a say as to whether I financially support a third-party candidate.

    This sounds to me like another of a long series of money grabs from the Republicrats (or are they Democans?)

  6. paulie paulie March 24, 2009

    Am I misunderstanding the bill, or are these people looking to use taxpayer funds to run for congress?

    You aren’t misunderstanding it.

    I don’t want to pay for the campaigns of any Democrat or Republican candidate, and I even want to have a say as to whether I financially support a third-party candidate.

    Same here.

    This sounds to me like another of a long series of money grabs from the Republicrats (or are they Democans?)

    Demipublicans.

  7. CHUCKtheFED CHUCKtheFED March 24, 2009

    we seem to be able to dedicate an FM channel to redundant traffic reports, allowing for people to jump in, listen, and get out.
    Why not reduce political advertising to the same thing? Take the lowest spectrum channel and dedicate it as local political channel, one for every local spectrum.
    1. only one candidate means a total drone of a message that might convince someone to run, just to change the tone,
    2. two people run, and alternate time.
    3. three people, split the pie accordingly. Divide by separate races, initiatives, etc. There could be ten…

    …by making it all in the same schedule mix, divided equally, the variable would be production value, which would be achieved by private donations, but money wouldn’t be necessary to have a voice. We just paid umpteen billion to send out vouchers for converter boxes… for air space that is just being sold…forget the bold faced lie about it being for first responders communication.
    This way, anyone with patience and desire can hear the candidates speak. And one can speak effectively without the Spielbergs of spin. Let all speak, let the issues emerge… at the speed and interactivity of the internet, on public airwaves.

    we DO still own the airwaves, right?

  8. paulie paulie March 24, 2009

    we DO still own the airwaves, right?

    “we” who, and why?

  9. CHUCKtheFED CHUCKtheFED March 24, 2009

    “We The People”….we/who

  10. paulie paulie March 24, 2009

    Why?

    Seems like it should be like any other resource – either owned by private owners, or unowned by anyone until someone comes along and mixes labor with it.

  11. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary March 24, 2009

    we seem to be able to dedicate an FM channel to redundant traffic reports, allowing for people to jump in, listen, and get out.
    Why not reduce political advertising to the same thing? Take the lowest spectrum channel and dedicate it as local political channel

    Most locales already have an NPR outlet. They are always at the bottom of the ratings, so low that they are rarely included in Nielson Reports. Furthermore, most NPR outlets refuse to cover any opposition candidates. Some have even gone all the way to the US Supreme Court to keep opposition candidates out of their so-called debates.

    PEACE

  12. Mik Robertson Mik Robertson March 24, 2009

    It seems to me the bill is backwards. If someone has an organization capable of raising funds, why should additional public funds be given to that candidate? Public funds would be needed only if a candidate did not have a large organization to raise money.

    If they do get public funds, then maybe they should be precluded from raising, or at least spending, any other funds for the campaign. Maybe a better way to go would be to simply preclude any spending for election to public office. Then all candidates are on an equal footing.

  13. paulie paulie March 24, 2009

    Then all candidates are on an equal footing.

    No, it just gives incumbents and the media more power.

  14. Mik Robertson Mik Robertson March 24, 2009

    There is considerable power with incumbency. The re-election rate of state legislators in Pennsylvania is something like 98%, although recent scandals may have knocked that down a bit.

    Perhaps incumbents should be precluded from the use of any public funds for campaigning. Trying to enforce that is a nightmare, however. Every “newsletter” I get from a legislator is a thinly veiled campaign ad.

    Traditional media still have considerable power, but it is slowly being eroded. Very slowly.

  15. CHUCKtheFED CHUCKtheFED March 24, 2009

    consciousness being what it is
    …repetition…
    an incumbent has an irreversible advantage.
    I’m not sure that you can eliminate… ‘advantage’,
    and one candidate (yours) is bound to have ‘smarter’ supporters.
    I’m wondering if all the
    supporters are ‘fairly’ considered.
    Media is what “we” have made it. We are allowing it to slip away, with new definitions brought on by new technologies. But it’s not gone yet.

  16. sunshinebatman sunshinebatman March 24, 2009

    Any bill providing public funding that makes it out of Congress will just take away state sovereignty vis-a-vis Congressional elections; and will fuck over third parties.

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